by Sam Acosta
The first Disney+ exclusive Marvel show represents an exciting new chapter of the MCU that explores a more creative side of what Marvel has to offer. “WandaVision” starts this new age of superheroes by throwing us back to the era of black-and-white television, immersing us in a world reminiscent of classic shows like “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “I Love Lucy.”
Superhero couple Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) have just moved to a new neighborhood and must hide their superpowers to fit in. Despite the nostalgic atmosphere and corny jokes, an unshakable sense of eeriness quickly falls over their domestic hijinks.
These first two episodes set the stage for what seems to be a “Twilight Zone”-esque story. I absolutely love that style of storytelling, and as soon as those elements became apparent, I was hooked. In every scene, I started trying to piece together what was going on underneath the surface. Take it from me and don’t try to do that quite yet, because the plot is still heavily shrouded in mystery.
In terms of performances, the acting is on par with the Marvel movies. Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany both give captivating performances that made me care about the characters more than I did in their previous appearances. The quirky situations that they find themselves in bring out a different side of these characters that we’ve never gotten to see before, and it’s a joy to watch. Along the way, the show does a great job of combining classic sitcom levity with an ever-present uneasiness.
The show does such an incredible job of creating an atmosphere that feels authentic to the era. Everything from the period-appropriate costumes to the whimsical animated intros feels like it was pulled directly from the time period. The black-and-white coloring is the perfect cherry on top of this time machine of a show. As someone who used to watch “Dick Van Dyke” reruns all the time, the show felt so familiar before it had even started telling the story.
Something particularly unique about this show is the tongue-in-cheek commercials in the middle of each episode. They are set within the world of the show and provide hints for the audience as well as easter eggs for hardcore Marvel fans. I absolutely adored these and found myself searching every inch of the screen for little clues.
The first episode’s commercial shows us a “state-of-the-art” toaster produced by Stark Industries. The second episode’s commercial reveals a Strucker watch with a tiny Hydra symbol on the face. Whether these are relevant to the plot is still up in the air. There are smaller easter eggs hidden in these commercials as well, but I encourage you to see if you can find them on your own.
While I have high praise for the creativity of this new venture, I recognize that it also has some weaknesses. The comedy in this show is bad. Very bad. It is painfully corny, and the canned audience laughter combined with some of the jokes made me cringe. I assume that this was on purpose to recreate the same cheesy atmosphere of the shows from that era, and people who enjoy that atmosphere won’t have any issues with the show.
For people who aren’t accustomed to that style of comedy, this could be a very difficult watch. Marvel has been adding more comedy to their films, especially since the irreverent “Thor: Ragnarok” was released in 2017. The main fanbase has become accustomed to this and may even expect it at this point. Yet, this new level of camp may throw even the most well-rounded fans for a loop.
That said, I think that this tone is only temporary for the show. The ending of episode two ends with a clear break from the show within a show and hints toward a more sinister plot. I would encourage everyone who watches both these episodes to wait and see how the story builds from there.
I have high hopes for this show. It appears to be building up to the introduction of the multiverse in the MCU, which will be relevant for future movies. This includes the upcoming “Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” as well as the third Spiderman movie, where it is reported that Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield will be returning as alternate-universe Peter Parkers.
With the ending of episode two being so dramatically different than the rest of the show, I believe next week’s episode will begin to show us what the true future of “WandaVision” will be. I believe in Kevin Feige and the new era of Marvel that we are beginning to see post-”Endgame.” I think that “WandaVision” is preparing us for that new era. It will not be what we are used to, but I have hope that it will be something that we love.
Episodes one and two of “WandaVision” are available to stream on Disney+.
Sam Acosta is a sophomore Theatre Comprehensive Major and an A&E writer for Cedars. He likes spending his time watching movies, drinking Dr. Pepper, and writing plays.