It’s been some time since we last visited the Marvel Cinematic Universe and after such a long absence its good to be back with an exciting new series in Disney+’s WandaVision. Plenty of fun and whimsy, along with a good dose of mystery are promised in this one as audiences finally get to learn what happened to Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) following the events of Avengers: Endgame.
In this first episode of WandaVision we find Wanda and Vision gripped by matrimonial bliss, as now newly married, they now embark on a life in the quiet suburban town of Westview. Walking right into a quintessential 1950s sitcom, Wanda and Vision meet their neighbours, and get into the swing of it, with Vision becoming a breadwinning company man, and Wanda attempting to live the life of a happy homemaker. But things soon get difficult when our newlyweds are forced into hosting an important dinner party and it’s there where things get quickly out of hand.
Taking its inspiration from the quintessential 1950s TV sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show, Wanda and Vision are fully embraced the idea of post-war Eisenhower era suburbia, and Episode 1 effortlessly recreates this mood and feeling. From the charming, chiming opening credit song courtesy of Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez to the vintage Atomic-age set design to Wanda’s perfect fitting circular swing dresses that anoints her as the ‘perfect’ stay-at-home housewife. Make no mistake we’re back in America’s TV Golden age era here. Director Matt Shakman has a lot of fun in recreating the look and feel of this classic television age, and he heavily leans into the era’s tropes, along with their absurdity, and with the addition of a live-studio audience laugh track, you’ll sure to be getting giddy.
Finding themselves right in the middle of Westview, and the strange new world of suburbia are Wanda and Vision set the stage for WandaVision in this first episode, and its magical to see these two together again. In this first episode’s setting, Olsen is a pitch-perfect match for Mary Tyler Moore, while Bettany is the classic clutz of Dick Van Dyke, and each of them effortlessly brings the charm of this decade back to life. But it’s not without its struggles, that’s for sure. Domestic life doesn’t necessarily come easy to Wanda, and Vision’s computational structure also marks him out as an oddball, and the hi-jinks and laughs that occur will have audiences in stitches.
What’s really fun to see with this first episode of WandaVision is how Olsen and Bettany, along with Shankman’s direction, play into the production atmosphere of the classic 1950s sitcom. These are two genuine characters who find themselves in a completely different world, and both Wanda and Vision are a little bit lost with the quirks of the era, which include magazine articles on how ‘A Wife Should Properly Look After Her Husband’ to the possible ‘Red Scare’ that comes from Wanda’s status as a Sakovian immigrant. While this first episode both celebrates the decade’s quirks and lighthearted ‘ah shucks’ atmosphere, it also pokes fun at the farcical nature of the decade and makes for a real treat for audiences.
In addition to the return of Wanda and Vision, audiences are also introduced to a brand new character in the form of Kathryn Hahn’s Agnes. This very nosey neighbour pops up at the most unexpected of moments and quickly becomes Wanda’s self-appointed best friend and introduction to suburban life. Hahn has a lot of fun as this neighbourly nuisance, and its fun to see how she interacts with Olsen and Bettany. While we’re yet to understand the significance that she will play in upcoming episodes, she’s definitely a character that fans will want to keep an eye on.
While this first episode of WandaVision really strove to set-up the world that our characters now inhabit, we also saw the beginning of some newfound character development for both Wanda and Vision. Themes of identity and reality begin to seep their way into this first episode, especially with Wanda and Vision being the new couple on the block ‘who don’t quite fit in’. And then, of course, their powers also get them into a whole heap of trouble as well. While it’s early days yet, and things are certainly not as they seem, I think we’re only at the beginning of some large scale character growth for Wanda and Vision and this is going to be incredibly interesting for long time Marvel fans.
Episode One of WandaVision is a sweet and heartfelt nod back to America’s first-ever decade of the television sitcom, and it delivers plenty of humour and a whole heap of surprises. It’s a fine place to start, and wonderful to see these two characters finding themselves in a new world, and completely in love….but we have a feeling that it’s going to get a lot more interesting from here.
WandaVision streams every Friday night on Disney+.
Image: Walt Disney Pictures