The frustrating subtlety of WandaVision on Disney Plus

Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda in "WandaVision" on Disney Plus.
Does she pour the milk first? Or the cereal first? And are those really lemons? (Image credit: Marvel Studios)

This is going to spoil some details for WandaVision. Consider yourself warned.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is not particularly known for its subtlety. Sure, Kevin Feige & Co. can play the long game — the pieces of Infinity Saga were being put into place long before we mere mortals probably realized — but most everything else about the MCU can be described as running head first into a wall. 

Action moves ahead either at full speed (or faster), or is painfully slow. The scale often is either huge, or subatomic. There's Hulk, then there's Banner. And it's a tribute to the movies that we often knew what ultimately was going to happen and could sit back and enjoy what has been, for more than a decade now, one hell of a ride. 

But with WandaVision on Disney+, the first post-Infinity Saga MCU entry and the first as a series, we have something different. It's more grounded, based in suburban New Jersey. The faux-sitcom side of the show is set in a home that probably looks something like yours. And each half-hour episode has been crafted to end with a perfectly timed cliffhanger.

I'm not a comic book aficionado — I'm just a guy who has very much enjoyed the movies. (And who has a hard time explaining why there's so much dust in the air every time I watch Black Panther, Infinity War or Endgame.) I don't know the backstories that flesh out the many characters of the MCU. But what I have learned is that knowing those backstories help you spot the little things in WandaVision that keep the story moving and the cliffhangers more tolerable. Because you have some idea of what's ahead. These are little nuggets that more casual MCU fans probably missed — because we didn't really know they existed. 

And all that background also means that we've been publishing some serious spoilers the past few weeks.

We had a pretty good idea that Agnes (Kathryn Hahn) was actually not just nosy neighbor Agnes

We've known that Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) isn't just a S.W.O.R.D. agent who disappeared in The Blip only to return thanks to the events of Avengers: Endgame. She's not just the daughter of Maria Rambeau, Carol Danvers' best friend in Captain Marvel. She's much, much more.

We've known that S.W.O.R.D.'s Tyler Hayward isn't just some pain-in-the-ass bureaucrat — he's almost certainly something far worse.

Those are some pretty carefully crafted pieces that have been moved around the board through the first seven episodes. They've been cloaked in the guise of the period pieces — sitcoms based around the way shows looked and felt over decades past. I don't mind admitting I didn't catch any of that while I was watching. And I'm in the camp of folks who don't mind the weekly teasing and waiting. It gives us time to catch our collective breaths and just enjoy — and to absorb what those who know these stories far better than what we've seen on Disney+ have brought to the table. I only wish I'd known some of it going into the series — it might have made the cringe-worthy 1950s and '60s bits a little more bearable, knowing what it was building to.

And I also know this: I almost don't care what happens to Wanda and Vision at this end of it all. At the end of the day, it could well be Monica Rambeau's world, and we're all just living in it.

(One more thing I know: Watching Disney+ on Apple TV is just about the best way to do it.)

Phil Nickinson

Phil spent his 20s in the newsroom of the Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal, his 30s on the road for and Mobile Nations and is the Dad part of Modern Dad.