We’ve finally made it! Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has officially begun with the first two episodes of WandaVision! Was it worth the the wait? How did the first two episodes grade out? Warning: Full spoilers ahead!
You’re still here!? Excellent! First and foremost, the script and vibe of WandaVision was terrific from the very first moments. In fact, the very first sequences are filled with clips that immediately took me back to Bewitched, I Love Lucy and the Dick Van Dyke Show. From a film perspective, I was constantly reminded of Gary Ross’ Pleasantville, a positively wonderful film which materialized a TV-series into real life. Let’s deep dive into some of the main positives from the first two episodes of WandaVision.
The first ten 10 minutes of the series premiere is unlike anything we’ve ever seen from the MCU. From laugh tracks to the costumes, the show feels as if it were directly stripped from the 1950s. It even includes commercials that tease a toaster from Stark Industries as well as a watch from Hydra (we’ll get into that in a little bit). For the most part, the 50’s vibe was effective at cementing the concept of a TV-show within a TV-show and Wanda’s false reality.
But let’s be real: This show wouldn’t be what it is if it weren’t from the amazing chemistry by the two leads, Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch) and Paul Bettany (Vision). Olsen and Bettany are terrific here. Their love for one another is scintillating and we’re even exposed to the MCU’s first sex scene (for real). We even see Wanda become pregnant later in episode 2. However, WandaVision is clearly way more concerned with Wanda’s alternate reality and emotionally fragile state.
What were some of the best moments?
One of the best moments came from Vision singing “Yakety Yak” by the coasters while Wanda is struggling to put together a gourmet dinner in the kitchen. Another moment came in episode 2 as Vision portrays a drunk robot due to chewing a piece of Big Red gum. The other highlight came from a talent show where the two leads are sidesplitting in their performance.
From a character perspective, I thought Kathryn Hahn’s performance as Agnes truly stole every scene. Knowing Hahn’s resume and knack for comedic timing, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that her quips are pitch perfect alongside Wanda’s insecurities and attempts to fit in with her neighbors. The neighbor to the right was easily one of the show’s strong points for me and I cannot wait to see more.
As a whole, the first two episodes truly soared when the show featured some of the darkest moments we’ve seen from the MCU.
The scene of Fred Melamed’s Mr. Hart choking on his food while Debra Jo Rupp’s Mrs. Heart repeated “stop it” was excellent. It was also really fun to see Debra Jo Rupp return from That 70’s Show. I probably speak for everyone saying that she’ll always be Kitty Forman to me. The “for the children” scene was exceptionally dark and felt like something stripped out of The Stepford Wives.
The scenes of watching Wanda’s reality crumble all around her was also all around terrific. Most notably, the cliffhanger at the end of episode 2. There were also some Truman Show-esque moments that make us think that Wanda might not be in control of her reality as we might expect. Wanda was truly terrified as a mysterious figure comes out from a sewer with SWORD logos on their equipment.
It’s clear that SWORD is behind the scenes, but to what role?
Did Wanda create this false reality herself or is SWORD holding her mind hostage? We’ll all be surely watching every week to find out. Lastly, there was an abundance of charm in the first two episodes, but I think it’s pretty clear that the tone of the show will be getting much more dark in the very near future. The intent of these two episodes was clear: set up the amazing dynamic between Wanda and Vision. The puzzle pieces have barely touched the board so far, which brings us to some of the negatives of the show.
What didn’t work:
For many of us (myself include) who were hoping for a massive tease about the direction of Phase 4 of the MCU, the first two episodes didn’t exactly ring the bell. It’s not a stretch to say that the first two episodes were primarily a tease for what’s to come. For the most part, we were only teased of SWORD’s presence.
The commercials were a fun add, but what exactly was their intent? Both commercials had some interesting teasers of Stark Industries and Baron Von Strucker. However, were these moments one of the many traumatic memories buried deep within Wanda’s subconscious? I feel like they were simply utilized as filler. I don’t want to call the first two episodes of WandaVision total filler, but I totally understand why this may lead to some fans being disappointed.
I get it… It would be crazy for Kevin Feige to spill the beans for Phase 4 so quickly. However, I have to be honest. It’s been 563 days (Spider-Man: Far From Home) since MCU fans had a taste of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The wait has been excruciating for many like myself and seeing the first hour of WandaVision be nothing more than a tease is somewhat of a downer. Lastly, Monica Rambeau barely had a role in the first two episodes. I’m very excited to see her character grow, but her screen time was minimal to say the least. I’m hoping Monica has a bigger presence in the series moving forward.
What does August 23rd represent?
This is easily one of the biggest mysteries from the show to date. In the first episode, we see Wanda and Vision celebrate a “very special day” on August 23rd. For better or worse, both characters are clearly confused with its meaning. Was it simply their anniversary or could it signify something greater? Could it represent Vision’s creation date from his J.A.R.V.I.S. days? Or maybe the creation of Wanda’s reality?
Or perhaps the day her brother Quicksilver died? We saw a heart drawn above August 23rd on their calendar. A heart could represent multiple things. It could represent joy and happiness, but it could also symbolize loss and sadness. From what we’ve seen many of Wanda’s plot points are driven by family. She’s a character who has struggled to find love and family throughout her journey in the MCU.
As we know, there have been significant traumatic events in Wanda’s life. I may be reaching a little too deeply here, but I think we’re beginning to see some of the horrors Wanda experienced begin to surface into her false reality of joy and happiness.
How do the first two episodes grade out?
Simply put, it’s really good. The idea of visiting a different sitcom era each episode is brilliant and will surely keep a specific demographic watching each and every week. For better or worse, the rich concept of the TV-show within a TV-show was fun while it lasted. Unfortunately for me, the novelty wore itself off pretty quickly by the end of the second episode. I’m honestly kind of shocked. I thought the sitcom concept would have translated better.
In similar fashion, I think this is why the Ant-Man films get so frequently overlooked
The concept and themes of the Ant-Man films are so well executed from top to bottom. They are filled with an immense amount of heart and passion. However, the Avengers films have set such a high standard for MCU content that expectations are through the roof. The Ant-Man films are often overlooked because they don’t drive the overall plot as much as we’d like. I think it’s possible that WandaVision may fall into that same trap.
I’m really interested to see how fans react to WandaVision. Will the fans be truly open to this incredibly rich and experimental project? Or are the fans so thirsty for glimpses of the overall Phase 4 plan that they’ll quickly forget it? Do younger fans even care about Bewitched or the Dick Van Dyke show? Do younger fans even know about those shows?
It’s way too early to tell the impact WandaVision will have on Phase 4 moving forward. We were spoon-fed that the events of this series would have a profound impact on Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, Spider-Man 3 and Phase 4 moving forward. It’s important to have patience…
It’s also important to consider that the first 3 phases of the MCU took an insane 11 years to develop before its ultimate climax into Avengers: Endgame. After finishing the second episode, my perspective was clear: I’m in the middle ground. If I had to describe the first and second episodes of WandaVision, I would say cautiously optimistic.