What to Watch Verdict
'WandaVision's first two episodes are a series of small and strange moments that drive home the kind of impact that these Disney+ series' can have on the greater MCU.
🔸It's weird. Like weird, weird.
🔸Bettany and Olson's chemistry shines in ways that the films never gave it the chance to.
🔸We're already seeing hints — albeit small ones — to what might be going on.
🔸It's nice that they dropped the first two episodes together, but they might have served better as a single pilot.
This post contains spoilers for WandaVision.
When we entered 2020, none of us could have known that we would have ended up going for a year without any Marvel properties. It’s a small-scale “problem”, given what’s happening in the world, but moments of escapism matter now more than ever. Because of that, the Marvel banner dropping across WandaVision’s first episode packed a strong emotional punch. Given the subject matter, I suspect it won’t be the hardest hit we see coming out of this new series.
For those confused, Vision (Paul Bettany) remains very dead. Or at least as “dead” as a sentient artificial intelligence brought to life by the Soul Stone can be. So, how is he alive and well and he and Wanda’s (Elizabeth Olson) little sitcom paradise? The series hints that the answer to that will be quite dark. However, for these first two episodes, we get to see the couple enjoying small moments of marital bliss (and all of its complications).
WandaVision opens with the couple happily finding their forever-home in Pleasantville, USA. The two navigate their new life in their new town of white picket fences and petticoats with all the joys and stumbles of the sitcoms of the '60s, leaning most notably on Bewitched for its first two chapters. Their monochrome backdrop only accentuates their oddities as we watch two of the most powerful beings in Marvel canon do their best to live a normal, Thanos-free life.
But voices in radios hint that their paradise will be short-lived.
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Also: How to watch all the Marvel movies in order
Though these first episodes don’t do much to tell the viewer what in the world is happening in this quirky new show, they do illustrate that we should have been letting Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olson do more comedy ages ago. Watching Vision (in human form) break out into “Yakity Yak” in attempt to distract his boss from the witchy shenanigans happening in his kitchen shouldn’t work, yet it’s one of the funniest moments in the pilot. The couple's chemistry is given a chance to shine in ways that the cinematic MCU simply never had the space for. In the films, everything between Wanda and Vision felt largely implied. Even when their emotions were explicit, they felt largely sterile. Given the need to focus on the entirety of the universe, it makes sense that their chemistry was never given the opportunity to blossom on the silver screen. But damn if that doesn’t just drive home how much these shows can mean to the emotional impact of the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Despite there being no real explanation as to what in the multiverse is going on in this strange little sitcom town, we do get some hints. The logo you see pop up several times throughout the episode belongs to an organization called S.W.O.R.D. (Sentient World Observation and Response Department). Think of it as S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division), but for space. But don’t take that to mean that Wanda and Vision have found themselves on another planet. Nothing’s out of bounds in this series, but it seems more likely that at least one of them remains on Earth.
WandaVision’s picture of the era is a diverse one. While this is all presumably happening in Wanda’s mind, it’s still worth calling out that we see all walks of life in prominent positions in the neighborhood. Marvel has as much work to do as any major production company, but it’s nice to see small steps when they’re made — even if they’re late.
As far as additional players in Wanda and Vision’s story, we meet Agnes (Kathryn Hahn) and Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) in these first two chapters. Agnes is the endearing and sometimes scandalous housewife next door, while Monica shares an immediate connection with Wanda but isn’t given a ton to do in these first two episodes. Expect more from her once Wanda snaps out of whatever — ahem — vision she’s found herself in.
This review wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t call out the delightfully quirky commercials placed in these first two episodes. They crawled out of the '60s telecast right into this new series, and they’re a wonderfully strange touch. They’re far from the oddest part of these episodes, but they certainly add a level of fun to them (even if one of them is for a Hydra watch). Oddness reigns in WandaVision in the best way possible, and I get the sense that Vision gumming up his works with a literal piece of gum will be far from the strangest or silliest thing we see this series do.
It’s worth your time, and I can’t wait for more!
Amelia is an entertainment Streaming Editor at IGN, which means she spends a lot of time analyzing and editing stories on things like Loki, Peacemaker, and The Witcher. In addition to her features and editorial work, she’s also a member of both the Television Critics Association and Critics Choice. A deep love of film and television has kept her happily in the entertainment industry for 7 years.