WandaVision (2021): A Homage to Decades of Sitcoms
Updated: Aug 1, 2022
Marvel’s Phase 4 was supposed to begin with Black Widow back in 2020, but the COVID-19 Pandemic put that release on hold. This led to Marvel shuffling around their schedule and delaying many projects like Shang Chi and much of the rest of Phase 4. But after nearly 2 years without any new MCU content, Marvel went ahead and released the mini series revolving around Wanda Maximoff and Vision. This was the dawn of a shift in storytelling within the MCU as they transitioned into TV-related content.
Wanda Maximoff (played by Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (played by Paul Bettany) move to the small town of Westview, New Jersey to begin a life together. As they settle into their new house, they quickly befriend their new neighbor Agnes (played by Kathryn Hahn), and quickly form a family. However, as their life becomes more normal it becomes clearer that not everything is as it seems. Strange events and sinister forces chip away at Wanda’s perfect life and start showing the cracks in her mental state. Now with these cracks growinggger and her family in jeopardy, only Wanda is capable of setting things right before she loses everything.
This was Marvel's first ever show that was directly tied into the MCU, unless you consider Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. part of the canon. Expectations were high and WandaVision was kinda tough to pin down what it was going to be about in the marketing. However, what was acknowledged was the show’s use of sitcoms. I guess most of us didn’t realize they would pay individual homage to roughly each decade of sitcom evolution. The first two episodes were played in the classic black and white aesthetic and used a mixture of styles and tones from The Dick Van Dyke Show and I Love Lucy, even managing to sneak in The Twilight Zone as well. As the show progressed, they also paid homage to other shows like The Brady Bunch, Full House (as Elizabeth Olsen’s older siblings starred on the show), Malcolm in the Middle, and even Modern Family. They consistently managed to maintain a different style of television with each episode and still was able to gel each style seamlessly with the MCU’s signature tone.
Speaking of Elizabeth Olsen, she finally gets her chance to truly shine as the powerful sorceress, giving an emotional performance that delves deep into Wanda’s grief and loneliness. This is such a tragic character as she lost her brother, Vision (twice I might add), and parents. While she seemed to always pick herself back up after each loss, it was only because there was someone to help her. Here we go into what would happen if no one were there to help her process. In fact, each time a traumatic event happens to Wanda, a sitcom is always on; functioning as an escape. From when her building was bombed in Sokovia to after losing her brother in Age of Ultron. It is also something to remember that the creators never once condoned her actions of brainwashing Westview into a living sitcom, but it is an understandable outburst of pain and grief.
Besides Elizabeth Olsen giving her best performance as Scarlet Witch, Kathryn Hahn swooped in and stole most of her thunder, whether it was as the nosy neighbor Agnes or immortal witch Agatha Harkness. Hahn’s approach to the character was different compared to other Marvel villains I’ll say, mostly because she never felt like the big bad in some ways. She was a villain without a doubt, but she was more curious about the power Wanda had. Even though Agatha would end up fighting Wanda in the final episode, she did so after finding out information as to how Wanda came to be and mostly was fighting her to prevent her from becoming The Scarlet Witch. But of course Hahn’s charisma and comedic timing definitely made her a fan favorite, and her ear worm of a tune Agatha All Along certainly helped.
Each episode may not be to everyone's liking, due to the different style of sitcom throughout the years, that does not mean there aren’t any great moments throughout. Two moments in particular stand out: Wanda coming into her full power as that are amazing, such as Wanda coming into her full power as Scarlet Witch; although this is portrayed differently than normal superhero fairs, as the music and Agatha make this moment more foreboding than triumphant.
But there was another moment that was even bigger than this one; an internet destroying, universe shattering moment that no one saw coming…Evan Peters being brought onto the show as a recast Pietro Maximoff. For those that live under a rock, Evan Peters played Quicksilver on Fox’s X-Men movies to many fans’ delight and his reveal of being in WandaVision had many fans speculating the Multiverse was in play, even though a few episodes later he was the punchline of a dumb boner joke and left a sour taste in many fans’ mouths; possibly even more sour than Trevor Slattery’s reveal in Iron Man 3.
WandaVision was exactly what everyone needed to get back into the MCU again. As the emotional story was really resonating with everyone during a time of quarantine. But aside from the story, a captivating performance from Elizabeth Olsen and a scene stealing one from Kathryn Hahn really kept viewers on their toes as to what would happen next. Not only great performances but shocking moments that kept jaws on the floor were coming every episode, even if some led to disappointment. All in all, WandaVision not only proved that Wanda Maximoff was more than just a supporting character but an actual Avenger, and I can’t wait to see what kind of chaos she can raise in the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness!