Each Friday, Darren from @darrenmoviereviews will be recapping the most recent episode(s) of WandaVision and the show’s overall connection to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. Recaps will be released in mid-afternoon to avoid early spoilers.
Darren here from @darrenmoviereviews with a breakdown of the first two episodes of WandaVision, now streaming on Disney+.
Marvel fans rejoice! Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has officially begun with WandaVision. After a year and a half since Spider-Man: Far From Home was released, the next entry in the MCU has begun with a two episode premiere that provides audiences with something they have never seen in a Marvel movie before: a sitcom. And I’m happy to report that so far the miniseries is a blast of fun, beautifully designed and full of mystery that will keep fans hooked for the rest of the season.
The creative team have done a wonderful job recreating the classic sitcom vibe on WandaVision. The production design is excellent for the first two episodes, perfectly recreating the 50s in the first episode and the 60s in the second episode. The costume design and hair and makeup design is beautiful, especially for Elizabeth Olsen who radiates style and grace over the course of the two episodes. Frozen and The Book of Mormon song writers Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez provide theme songs for each episode, setting the fun tone of the homage to the sitcoms that the show is emulating. The black and white colour grading and the square aspect ratio complete the image of the classic sitcom, framing everything in these two episodes to feel like classic sitcoms like I Love Lucy and Bewitched. Then there is that wonderful colour transition at the end of the second episode as the series gets ready to enter the era of the 70s sitcom in the next episode. While some viewers may be missing the action spectacle that normally accompanies the Marvel films, I have always personally believed that Marvel is at their best when they are trying something new and unique. And thanks to the great work of creator Jac Shaeffer and director Matt Shakman, they help create one of the most refreshing entries into the superhero genre in recent years.
Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany shine as Wanda and Vision from start to finish. The two of them have wonderful comedic timing as they both fully throw themselves into their sitcom roles. While they have not been given a comedic role in the MCU before, the two of them easily show that they have the comedic abilities to carry this wild series all by themselves, and I cannot wait to see where they take their performances next. Debra Jo Rupp and Fred Melamed are fun as Wanda and Vision’s neighbours the Harts, both of them tapping into their comedic talents that they are known for. But it’s Kathryn Hahn who consistently steals the show as Agnes, Wanda and Vision’s nosy neighbour. Hahn revels in the joy of being Agnes, fully utilizing the over exaggerated character to deliver some truly hilarious moments. Whenever she is not on screen, you cannot wait for Agnes to appear again, but don’t you worry. Like any good nosy neighbour, Agnes finds a way to appear at the most opportune moments. But is this just coincidence, or is there more to Agnes that will be revealed over the remainder of the miniseries. Time will tell…
And now for the spoiler warning. If you have not seen the premiere episodes of WandaVision, stop reading. But if you have, continue on as I get into the plot of the episodes, the mystery that is building and predictions on where the show and the MCU could be heading next.
The first two episodes of WandaVision each have an open and closed sitcom plot, while carefully laying out concerning elements and tons of hidden clues to hint where the series could be moving. The first episode focuses on Wanda and Vision trying to remember why they have a heart on their calendar as neither can remember why August 23 is important to them. It turns out it was an abbreviation for the Harts coming over for dinner, which leads to a funny dinner party as Wanda tries to turn her special night she planned for Vision into a dinner meant to impress Vision’s new boss. The second episode revolves around Wanda and Vision’s introduction to their new neighbours as the two of them prepare a magic act for the neighbourhood talent show. Ending this week’s episodes is the surprise reveal that Wanda is pregnant, and a few months along by the looks of it. But throughout the two episodes, there are many moments where both the audience and Wanda and Vision realize that something is not right with their environment, questioning what is actually happening to our heroes. And then there is the ominous ending of both episodes showing someone watching Wanda and Vision like a television episode, and the S.W.O.R.D. logo appearing both times and throughout each episode.
So what does this all mean? Well, it’s clear that Wanda is trapped in some sort of simulated reality. But the question is whether Wanda is being held as a hostage by some evil character who has yet to be revealed, or if this is her own doing? During the second episode, there is an interruption to Wanda’s discussion with her neighbour Dottie by the radio with a voice asking Wanda where she is and who is doing this to her. The voice is not identified, but it did sound like Randall Park’s Jimmy Woo, suggesting that he is trying to locate Wanda. If this is Park, then why is the FBI looking for Wanda? However, at the end of the episode after seeing a S.W.O.R.D. agent comes out of the sewer, Wanda uses her powers to rewind time so that she and Vision do not see the S.W.O.R.D. agent. This contradicts the radio message as it shows Wanda is in control of her environment, suggesting that she may be the one creating this reality.
To further build the mystery, the S.W.O.R.D. logo consistently appears throughout the two episodes, suggesting that S.W.O.R.D. is heavily involved in what is happening, which raises another question: is this related to Nick Fury in outer space as last seen in the second post-credit scene in Spider-Man: Far From Home? Then there is Teyonah Parris’ appearance as Geraldine, who we know is Monica Rambeau in real life, who makes a very strange remark during a conversation with Wanda and Vision after the talent show. She asks VIsion how they pulled off the magic trick, to which Wanda responds “she’s not talking”. But it’s Geraldine’s response of “I had a feeling you would say that” that begs the question of what her motivations are. Is she involved with Wanda’s imprisonment in this television world, or is she here to help Wanda break free from this simulated reality?
On top of all this, there were those commercials in the middle of each episode: the first being for a Stark Industries toaster and the second for a Strucker watch. They are a fun moment that mimics a television program and commercial programming, but they obviously serve a deeper purpose than just the fun nod to the sitcom format. The first commercial is an obvious reference to Tony Stark that all viewers should catch, but the second may not be as obvious. Marvel fans will recognize the name Strucker as Baron Wolfgang von Strucker who was portrayed by Thomas Kretschmann in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Avengers: Age of Ultron, one of the leaders of Hydra, begging the question whether we have seen the last of Hydra in the MCU?
Beyond these more obvious Marvel easter eggs, there are some more subtle ones that require a deeper knowledge of the Marvel comics to spot. This includes the label on the bottle of wine in the first episode reading “Maison Du Mepris”, which translates to House of Contempt. Could this possibly be a reference to the comic storyline entitled House of M which explored Wanda’s relationship with her father Magneto and her brother Pietro. Is this a sign that the X-Men may be making their appearance sooner than previously expected in the MCU and have implications for their possible appearance in future films, such as Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of madness? Or the name of the department store at the talent show that can be seen in the background. Wentworth is the last name of supervillain Superia, and was a recurring enemy in the Captain America comics and also has ties to characters from the Spider-Man comics. Before becoming Superia, Deidre Wentworth was the head of H.A.M.M.E.R., an organization created in the comics after a Skrull occupation of Earth. While H.A.M.M.E.R. has not appeared in the MCU films to date, the name did appear briefly in the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It’s safe to say the name of the department store is more than mere coincidence, and it could be the first hint in the MCU of the recently announced Secret Invasion miniseries on Disney+.
So where does the show go next? We know that Wanda’s powers are growing and she is incredibly powerful as she seems to have some sort of control over the entire reality she and Vision are in. I believe that Geraldine/Rambeau is present to help Wanda as it seems that she is not a tight knit member of the community from her brief appearance, suggesting she is not in league with the rest of the characters we have met so far. Also, I think it is safe to say that Hahn’s Agnes may end up being the villain of the series, but is she the only villain? I think there is another villain behind Agnes in the outside world that could extend into future MCU projects, whereas Agnes is just the agent in the simulated reality with Wanda and Vision and will be the main villain for this miniseries.
Unfortunately, that ends the recap and discussion of the premiere of WandaVision, but make sure to check back next Friday afternoon as I discuss the third episode.