WandaVision was propelled by its originality: New MCU content should follow suit
Note: The following article contains spoilers for every episode of “WandaVision.” Read at your own risk.
Every Friday for the past two months, I have opened up Disney+ to watch the new episode of “WandaVision.” The limited series just finished its run, with its ninth and final episode dropping last Friday, March 5, but the MCU is far from done. In two weeks, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” will begin and “Loki” will follow it in June. Looking ahead to this lineup of MCU TV shows, I feel the same way I did when Marvel dropped their Phase 4 movie plan at The San Diego Comic Convention (SDCC) 2019—excited and absolutely terrified.
For those of you who don’t know, I am a longtime, hardcore MCU fan. We’re talking been-committed-to-the-franchise-ten-years, seen-every-movie-opening-night type of fan. But the movies of the last several years have jaded me. My reason for this largely rests on my criteria of what makes a good movie: enjoyable throughout, doesn’t fall apart under questioning.
By and large, “WandaVision” falls into those two categories. If you haven’t seen the show and are reading this anyway, “WandaVision” is split in two parts: a television show documenting Wanda and Vision’s suburban life, with each episode styled to match sitcoms from different decades, and the so-called “real world” of the MCU. The sitcom episodes are funny, well-styled and thoroughly enjoyable. Even when I hadn’t seen the show “WandaVision” was spoofing off of (for example, I have never watched an episode of “The Dick Van Dyke Show”), I loved it, though there were a couple of lines that made me cringe. The real world episodes did not work nearly as well.
You see, I have this problem where I like things to make sense. My suspension of disbelief is incredibly high, but I shouldn’t be able to find inconsistencies in a show’s own logic, especially if I’m not even looking for them. And that’s where the final two episodes of “WandaVision” lost me. I accepted the episode-long fight between white Vision and hex Vision. I’ll even go along with suddenly introducing the idea of different kinds of witches (general term for magic practitioners) who wield different kinds of magic, even if the Salem scene from episode 8 was one of the worst written and most poorly acted scenes I’ve seen recently. But I couldn’t take the inconsistent retroactive continuation of Wanda and Pietro’s powers.
I am aware that more of the worldbuilding around witches will be explained in 2022’s “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness,” in which Wanda has a central role, but I don’t think I should have to wait over a year for another movie to explain plot points introduced in a miniseries. If anyone can explain to me how Pietro and fake Pietro got superspeed, please tell me, because I can’t figure it out. (Was Pietro a witch? Is superspeed a spell?)
For all these problems, though, I truly did enjoy “WandaVision.” I would recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in watching it, and probably to people without that interest, too. The meta aspect worked well, the side characters were engaging and I’m still grooving to Agatha’s villain reveal song. The final two episodes weren’t the show’s strongest, and I was disappointed by the resolution of the Evan Peters cameo, but they weren’t weak enough to make me lose interest. The scene where Wanda said goodbye to her family hit a genuine emotional beat I once worried the MCU could no longer achieve: tragic but necessary, without being used solely for shock value. I fear, though, that this won’t be the case for Marvel’s upcoming TV shows.
“WandaVision” was so good because it wasn’t something I’d seen from the MCU before. The final two episodes started to feel like something I might see in theaters, with the final battle especially reminiscent of pretty much every final battle I’ve seen in an MCU movie since “Age of Ultron.” And that’s what I’m afraid of from “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier;” the MCU could so easily return to the formulaic superhero films they’ve been churning out for the last several years. “WandaVision” could be a bright, incredibly successful aside, a fun digression that doesn’t signal any type of change in direction.
I want “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” to be good. I want the Flag-Smashers, which Wikipedia lists as the main villains of the show, to not be “radicals” who force our heroes to uphold conservative, patriotic American values. I want this show to be something wildly different, not just “Captain America 4.” I don’t think that will happen, but it’s nice to hope, right?
And if Disney does once again let me down, at least I’ll have “WandaVision” to rewatch.
Other arts and entertainment reflections after nearly a year of the pandemic: