What the Hell Even Is ‘WandaVision’?

Disney+ / WandaVision

WandaVision is the kind of show that could only happen on a streaming service as a piece of a larger cinematic universe, neither of which really existed 15 years ago. If we didn’t already know who the Vision and the Scarlet Witch were, the slow burn of the first two episodes would be completely nonsensical.

We do know who the Vision and the Scarlet Witch, though, and we know that they don’t live in a meticulous recreation of Rob and Laura Petrie’s house from The Dick Van Dyke Show. Dick Van Dyke himself even advised the makers of WandaVision on getting the look and feel of his eponymous sitcom which turns 60 this year just right.

But it’s not quite right. It feels like typical Dick Van Dyke when Wanda burns the roast when Vision’s boss comes over for dinner, but then he angrily starts questioning her: “Where are you from? Why did you move here? How did you meet?” Wanda and Vision don’t really have answers for this, and then Vision’s boss starts to choke, nearly to death. It’s a long, uncomfortable scene that goes on longer than you’d think before Vision saves him.

But after that, it turns out the boss really likes the couple and Vision is getting that promotion at work after all, even though he doesn’t know and no one can tell him what the company actually does.

In the second episode, Wanda and Vision’s house is suddenly, with no explanation, a replica of the Stephens’ house from Bewitched. And then the queen bee of the neighborhood asks Wanda some questions she doesn’t have an answer for and a glass explodes in her hand, and we see her blood is red despite everything else being black and white.

Finally, at the end of the episode, a man in a beekeeper costume with a strange logo on the back (it’s the logo S.W.O.R.D., S.H.I.E.L.D.’s intergalactic counterpart in the comics) emerges from the sewer, surrounded by bees, there to “rescue” Wanda. Wanda says no and then the episode rewinds like a VHS tape and Wanda decides to stay in the house with Vision where they magically turn to color the way a lot of TV shows did in the 1970s.

This should all sound insane to you, because you just watched an hour of television without the faintest idea what’s actually going on. This would never have happened on linear television, where networks would demand some sort of resolution or deeper explanation at the end of the first episode. In a movie, this sitcom setting would be the first act, and we’d have already had the break into two where Wanda and Vision let loose with their powers in a romp before the central confrontation begins.

WandaVision is the first Marvel project we’ve seen in over a year and it’s also the first to step outside of a strict mold. There’s no doubting that every Marvel movie so far has been good; even the bad ones were still fine, maybe a B-/C at worst. Now, with this, with WandaVision, they’re actually doing something different. It’s a weird show that revels in its weirdness and it appears that it will continue its slightly unsettling and frustrating slow burn across several episodes, presenting sitcom episodes that wrap their plot up with a neat little bow but ironically deny the audience any closure or feeling of relief.

We as audience members think we know what’s going on. We’ve seen the trailers, we have a pretty good idea that Wanda has created this sitcom pocket reality after some sort of mental break to give herself the life she could have had before Thanos killed Vision. But we don’t know that for sure. And just when we thought we were going to get some sort of hint at the big picture, Wanda herself told us no, we’re not.

I have found that the Marvel Cinematic Universe at times feels like I got my greatest childhood wish granted by a monkey’s paw; I’ve always loved super-heroes and the movies are genuinely good but there is clearly such a thing as too much of a good thing.

But a year-long wait for a project that breaks the mold of what Marvel is and has been is exactly the sort of pallet cleanser I needed to be optimistic that Marvel’s Phase Four is on the right path. For right now, there’s nothing else quite like WandaVision on television, and that’s not something I thought I’d ever say about a Marvel project again.

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2 years ago

If You hated bewitched and the dick van dyke show re-runs when you were young this will be like a BAD TRIP TO HELL!!!…

In my opinion it JUST SUCKS!!!!