By Valeri Guevarra, Editor in Chief (‘22)
Spoiler Alert for all episodes of WandaVision!
After over 18 months, the Marvel Cinematic Universe hiatus ended with the release of WandaVision. The Disney+ exclusive show, which premiered a new episode every Friday from January 15th to March 5th, stars fan favorites Paul Bettany as android Vision and Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff, and MCU newcomer Kathryn Hahn as noisy neighbor Agnes (revealed to be Salem Witch Agatha Harkness). The show highlights the romance between the Vision and Wanda through American sitcom homage episodes through the decades while also featuring MCU side characters in traditional gray-scale Marvel plot, including Antman’s Jimmy Woo (played by Randall Park), Thor’s Darcy Lewis (played by Kat Dennings), and Captain Marvel’s Monica Rambeau as an adult (played by Marvel newcomer Teyonah Parris).
Marvel fans, including myself, were ecstatic at the show’s release as the show became the first entry into MCU’s phase 4 (originally scheduled to start with Black Widow back in May 2020). The show has grabbed the attention of many different types of fans due to the continued limited traditional television shows and entertainment because of the pandemic. However, due to the diverse audience, many reviews are mixed, but Marvel veteran fans (like myself) and casual viewers can agree on a couple of things: the award-deserving acting talents of Bettany and Olsen, Kathryn Hahn’s vibrant and brilliant performance as Agnes/Agatha Harkness, surprisingly likability of supporting characters like Jimmy Woo and Darcy Lewis, and the wonderfully catchy and fun tunes from sitcom theme song homages to Agatha’s theme, ‘Agatha All Along’.
To many MCU stans, including myself, the series started a bit slow. The series’ release date was announced only two months in advance, but the fans still theorized and created high expectations for the MCU’s return. The trend continued to affect fan’s opinions until the end of the series, thanks in part due to the weekly release schedule, cliffhangers, and notorious ‘standby’ screen at the end of the short episodes. It may be my uncultured television sitcom knowledge or high expectations of head producer Kevin Feige and the series, but the series was underwhelming, especially the beginning episodes before episode 4’s introduction of the outside world outside of “the Hex” and finale. While the show’s mystery and surprise twists were enjoyable, including Fox’s Quicksilver (played by Evan Peters), Monica’s newfound powers, and charming initially confusing pair up of Woo and Lewis, the series suffers from the same problem the box office breaking Avenger’s Endgame faced: high fan expectations. Mephisto, Nightmare, multiverse, mutant theories filled Twitter trends and conversations, but the series never addresses any of them. In Feige and WandaVision team’s defense, the show simply continued the trend of past films and MCU material. More often than not, the MCU does not build up comic references and storylines quickly. Rather they take the long game and build up the story with hints and name-drops.
MCU fans, like myself, feel underwhelmed by the modest and traditional plot building of the series and slow MCU plot build-up while many casual viewers loved the show’s unique combination of sitcoms and mystery superhero storyline, similar to Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. After everything, however, many agree how the new character building of lower-tier characters like Maximoff, Woo, Lewis, and more only furthers the enjoyment of them in the films (previous and future as in the aftermath of premieres, past MCU films are often trending on Twitter thanks to the newfound appreciation of underrated films with WandaVision characters, including the Thor trilogy, Antman films, and even ‘worst Avengers entry,’ Age of Ultron).
The series will leave an impact on the MCU with the introduction of new White Vision, complete with full memories of MCU events but lacks the mind stone, Wanda’s fashionable and ready-for-action new costume, the introduction of Wanda’s newfound chaos powers as the Scarlet Witch, and two post-credit scenes that set up the highly anticipated fall 2022 Captain Marvel sequel with Parris and upcoming Doctor Strange sequel next March. Olsen’s performance in WandaVision has many counting the days until ‘Emmy-winning’ Elizabeth Olsen will be used in future marketing campaigns, but officially, next up on the list is Wanda’s return in the Doctor Strange sequel. Although underwhelming in some parts, Wanda and her unique character has me on the edge of my seat for her return in March 2022.