Movie Review: WandaVision shows what TV can and should be

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Photo by Felix Mooneeram on Unsplash

Marvel Studios’ “WandaVision” is the first of Marvel we’ve seen since “Spiderman: Far From Home” was released in 2019, and it was certainly worth the wait. The show is Marvel’s first time including its primary characters and storylines in television shows rather than feature films. With several more Marvel shows on the way – including “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” “Loki” and “What If?” – “WandaVision” set the stage for the superhero power-company to usher in a new age of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“WandaVision” rightfully shocked and impressed audiences with its uncomfortable nostalgia. The show focuses on Wanda Maximoff, or the Scarlet Witch, and the Vision. Despite both characters being Avengers in the last several Marvel films, neither had previously received extensive focus and character development. “WandaVision” explores the power and depth of both characters with more emotional force than Marvel audiences have seen in a while.

The show transforms throughout the series and harkens to sitcoms of decades past, but it does so with a level of unease. It recognizes its audiences didn’t actually watch television sitcoms of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s so it creates a nostalgia that recognizes its own inauthenticity. “WandaVision” plays with expectations, characters and settings like only the product of blockbuster film-level funding and production can. 

Full of twists, turns and questions, “WandaVision” keeps audiences constantly figuring out what each episode means before realizing the ground is falling out from beneath them. While not everything is shocking or unpredictable, the show plays with the expectations of die-hard Marvel fans and cultivates a sense of discomfort and fleetingness. 

Elizabeth Olsen as Maximoff and Paul Bettany as Vision shine as they show range and vulnerability. Olsen specifically steals her own show with skill and depth she hasn’t previously had the opportunity to show in the Marvel Universe. Her emotional and relatable performance made the large-scale production come together.

Fan-favorite side characters – including Darcy Lewis of “Thor,” played by Kat Dennings; Jimmy Woo of “Antman,” played by Randall Park; and Monica Rambeau of “Captain Marvel,” played by Teyonah Parris – return to play central roles. However, Kathryn Hahn as Agatha Harkness gave a performance rivalling Olsen’s. She stole the hearts of audiences and facilitated the greatest surprise of the series. 

Hahn and Olsen are captivating, and I cannot wait to see them continue exploring the depth of these characters in future Marvel projects. 

“WandaVision” truly vaulted over my expectations and somehow felt exactly like a Marvel movie without feeling too comfortable or familiar. It sets an intriguing base for future Marvel TV shows and the coming phase of Marvel generally. If “WandaVision” is a good indicator, I anticipate this phase will develop a new age of Avengers with more emotional complexity, nuance and cinematic skill than audiences typically expect from superhero films.

All in all, “WandaVision” was a 10/10 and a delightful highlight in these dreadful pandemic times.

Catherine Dema

Catherine Dema is the page editor for Features & Investigations on The Hilltop Monitor. She is a senior majoring in Oxbridge: History of Ideas and physics.

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