Wandavision is the first series in the MCU taking place after the events of Avengers: Endgame and follows the story of Wanda Maximoff a.k.a the Scarlet witch as she comes to terms with her losses from the previous avengers movies. It marks the first of a series of one-shot stories that will tie into the main overarching story that has been set up for the MCU phase 4 stories and serves as a lead up to the events in Spiderman 3 and Doctor strange movies.
Wandavision starts with Wanda and Vision as 2 superpowered individuals attempting to create a typical household life in what is essentially a 50’s suburban America and adopts a sitcom style narrative equipped with a live studio audience with us the viewers seemingly watching a sitcom and later revealed that the in show characters also watching the same show. Nothing much is explained to the viewer on what exactly is going on during these first few episodes but as the story goes on more of this reality starts to become unhinged and it adopts a more familiar format in the later episodes.
The first three episodes in my opinion are rather slow as it attempts to cement this format while showing the gradual breakdown in this reality but I felt this could have been done within the span of only 1 or 2 episodes rather than 3. This made the pacing feel quite slow in the beginning and reminded me more of filler episodes whilst watching anime. There are some payoffs to these episodes towards the end but really serves to only explain why these show formats were chosen by Wanda for her new reality and ties back to her past but nothing more than that. Also, the first few episodes are formatted like 50’s sitcoms so if you don’t enjoy that sort of thing it might be a bit of a slog to get through.
The story picks up however after the 3rd episode where we start getting more involved with the main story and how Wanda and Vision got into their current predicament. The pacing after the 3rd episode was much better and each episode ends with a satisfying cliffhanger that made me want to continue watching. The story also did a good job with subverting expectations and when watching with some friends we had a good time speculating on what was going on and who was behind all this during and after each episode. The story did a good job of making us believe the main antagonist was one person but always left this feeling that there someone else pulling the strings which made speculating all the more fun.
Wandavision also goes into Wanda’s backstory and how she lost her parents, built a hatred for Tony Stark, became radicalized and her involvement with Strucker’s experiments. It fleshed out more of her past and allowed viewers to get a glimpse of who she was before the Avengers movies. Although the series is called Wandavision, a lot of the story focused more on Wanda and the challenges she faced following the Avengers movies as well as in her past. I thought this backstory made her overall story much more sympathetic and showed the tremendous loss she had to experience throughout the course of the story
Being a superhero based series, one would expect it to be more action packed but there were several moments where the story dealt with the personal struggle and challenges of the main characters which I really enjoyed. One such scene was when they showed the aftermath of Avengers 2 with Wanda acclimating to her new environment and dealing with the lost of her brother, quicksilver. Vision and Wanda had a conversation on the grief that comes with loss and how one can make the most of that. The scene fleshed out Vision as a character which we did not get to see much of in the avengers movies and established the relationship between Wanda & Vision and I thought was quite well done.
Another scene I thought was quite interesting was the fight between Vision and White-Vision. What started out as an all out brawl actually diffused into a battle of logic with Vision trying to convince White-Vision to go against his main directive. After seeing many punchy-punchy scenes, having these kinds of resolutions to fights was to me a much needed breath of fresh air and was refreshing to see them take this approach especially in a fight between sentient computers. It makes me wonder how great it would have been to see this sort of battle take place between Vision and Ultron.
While this review has some spoilers I’m not going to go into discussing the main antagonist of the show as I feel this reveal is such a good one that viewers should experience it without knowing beforehand.
Characters in Wandavision
Wandavision includes a wide cast of well known and new characters to viewers with Wanda and Vision being main characters of the in universe show. Those not familiar with the comic books may miss out on some of the references in terms of characters like Photon, Agatha Harkness and White Vision but the story does a good job of including them into the narrative without needing any prior knowledge regarding them.
There are several mentions of the characters from the universe such as Ultron, quicksilver and others and viewers would need to have seen the previous movies to catch these references. The appearance of the seemingly X-Men version of quicksilver also hinted at the possibility of multiversal involvement but was later shown to not be the case but was still an interesting twist to have Evan Peters reprise this role.
If your unfamiliar with the characters don’t fret, the story progression and their roles fit in quite well as a self contained story but those of you who are familiar with the comics and previous MCU movies would get extra mileage on some of these appearances and throwbacks.
Visual effects & Costume design
The costume design was great and had many throwbacks to the original designs of the characters such as the original costumes for the Scarlet Witch, Vision and Quicksilver. However they also updated these costumes to bring them to a more modern age and I really liked how they approached the Scarlet Witch final design costume, it reminded me of the modernization of the Aquaman costume which made something silly look quite amazing.
Visual effects was not skimped on throughout the movie with many of the special effects on par with most of the Marvel movies. Many of the fights were very well done with the final fight showing off some really cool abilities from Wanda and even Vision. I thought the special effects were not overdone and had just enough to make the fights more visually interesting to watch.
The visual effects of the series as it moved from a 50’s show to a 90’s show was also a nice little detail with the set design mirroring much of the shows they were parodying or copying. The minor details such as the fidelity and prop design were also a nice touch.
Minor Gripes with Wandavision
One of the main weaknesses of the show for me was the slow pacing of the early episodes. I had watched this series after all episodes had been released and was able to power through to a point where the story became more interesting but if I had watched on a weekly basis I might have gotten disinterested after the second episode.
In terms of plot the story was good but I felt vision didn’t have too many significant moments in the show with the story really focusing more on Wanda’s development which is not necessarily a bad thing but I would have liked to see more of Vision as well. The story itself didn’t feel boring but the motivations of some of the antagonists wasn’t fully fleshed out and it came off as a simplistic need for more power. Most of the antagonist had this underlying motivation rather than a more compelling reason. I felt they could have done something more especially since this story took place in the aftermath of endgame and the effects superpowered individuals had on the world but they ultimately did not go this route.
The way the show ended, essentially gave a huge power boost to the Scarlet Witch and essentially set up in-universe justification for even more power ups for her character. I worry how this would be balanced out against other characters as she’s now canonically shown to be a reality warper with limitless potential. These may cause a huge power creep in the MCU as other characters either are unable to compete with this level of cosmic strength or they would have to be upgraded as well making the more simplistic or non-powered villains less of a threat moving forward.
Ultimately I’d rate the movie somewhere between 6-7 out of 10 as I enjoyed the story but it felt rather slow and didn’t grip me in the beginning. There were many great moments in the show that showed Wanda’s tough journey so far and moments where great wisdom was shared. The series was also self-aware enough to make jokes about its character such as one of the characters casually remarking how Wanda’s accent seem to appear and disappear randomly.
I think the main twists in the show was also done well enough to be enjoyable and the series help ground some of the unknown variables such as the nature of Wanda’s powers in the MCU. The story is self contained enough to watch even if you are unfamiliar with the comic books and helps to world build on the already huge marvel cinematic universe as well as set up the upcoming events for the coming movies.