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TV Series Review: WandaVision

IMDb Link: WandaVision (TV Mini Series 2021)
Distributor: Disney
Creator: Jac Schaeffer
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Kathryn Hahn

Synopsis: Blends the style of classic sitcoms with the MCU, in which Wanda Maximoff and Vision – two super-powered beings living their ideal suburban lives – begin to suspect that everything is not as it seems.

This review will be spoiler-free.

It has been almost 18-months since the last MCU project, Spider-Man: Far From Home, aired to audiences for the first time. Due to the pandemic and the closure of cinemas, an unplanned break was given to Marvel to prepare for the next phase. The first project to come from this phase, the mini-series WandaVision, is one of the most unique projects from the company. Not only is this the official first venture for the MCU into television, something they will continue to do over on Disney+, but the premise of the show is quite unique. It is safe to say that given the wait, the quirky premise, and my love for Wanda as a character, I was excited to finally get to see this when it started to release earlier this year.

The sitcom formula is something which may shock regular MCU fans, considering how different it is tonally to the action films we are used to from the company. However, anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of sitcoms. To have this homage to the genre over the span of six decades is such a charming idea and one that is fantastic to watch, particularly with these characters and this world.

The big worry with this premise was how it was going to tie into the MCU and not completely be its own separate thing. With the third and fourth episodes of the show, I was starting to worry that the show was hurrying the reveal and that the showrunners were anxious to get the characters back into reality. However, the show quickly finds its pacing again and has a smooth transition from the sitcom genre to the MCU universe.

Wanda Maximoff is one of the most interesting characters in the MCU, just based on the mystery of her power and the amount of pain she has gone through in the six years she has been on screen. She is the perfect character to have as the first lead for a TV series, as a film would simply not have had the time to really delve into her as a character and everything she has gone through. This is supported by an outstanding performance from Elizabeth Olsen, as she has to balance the emotions and power that Wanda has with the humour of the sitcom genre.

Everyone in the cast does a wonderful job with their roles, including Paul Bettany who has a natural humour to him that works within this world. However, from the first episode of the show, it was Kathryn Hahn who everyone was drawn to as the next-door neighbour, Agnes. There was just something there right from the start that made people want to see more of Hahn as each episode progressed, and I can guarantee that more people will be looking out for whatever roles Hahn takes in the future.

What really helps this show continue to entertain for nine episodes is just how much fun they have. This is particularly clear in the first few episodes, when the show has fun with the sitcoms of the 50s and 60s. The production design, the costumes, the characters and the premise all lend itself nicely to a more playful series which is exactly what we get. We also get to see the sitcom mayhem play alongside Wanda’s magic, which is handled extremely well and adds that bit of humour to the story.

As with any MCU project, there are spoilers surprises and cliffhangers all across the series. Whilst I will not go into detail on any of them here despite how much they have already been spoken about, I want to say that each of them works incredibly well. We have such a connection to this world and these characters that when a shocking twist comes, it has major impact. It is the cliffhangers in episodes Five and Seven in particular that are incredibly memorable and leave the biggest impact, both of which I adored.

The sitcom genre is wonderful, but there is a time where narrative has to take the forefront and the story needs to wrap. The final two episodes put a stop to the sitcom genre as the show goes back to the familiar formula that the MCU films take and are both very good. There are people who seem to be disappointed in these episodes, and I am not sure if it was due to expectations, change of tone, or people theorising by that point, but I do think these episodes were handled very well and directed a real focus on what the story of the entire series was about.

A big theme of this TV series is about dealing with grief, something that Wanda has had to do within the MCU for the past six years. There are some incredibly touching lines and moments within these final few episodes that handle the subject matter and that is boosted by Olsen’s incredible performance. I am glad that the MCU is taking a darker subject matter like this and giving this intimate moment to Wanda, to further develop her character and have this heavy theme run through what is otherwise fun entertainment. It adds real weight and shares a message that I think many people will be able to connect with.

This story does feel contained as opposed to most MCU films, and I wonder if this is a direction that will continue with the other mini series that are planned for DIsney+. It is best to enter this show and let it take you on the journey, not to speculate or theorise. This is a show purely about Wanda and Vision and their relationship, and the series starts and ends with that exact focus. The show does provide moments that will become even bigger, but I am glad to simply have this isolated story within the MCU – and one that deals with one of my favourite characters in the franchise.

I have been impressed almost every single week when getting to sit down on a Friday and re-enter this incredible world. I love the emotion of the story and the direction that the show ended up going in, even if I was not sure how they would pull it off. I do hope that Marvel continues to take some risks with their storytelling and know that audiences will accept it and embrace change because this refreshing show brings some new light to a franchise that could easily experience burnout.

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