To call WandaVision a wild ride these past several weeks would be something of an understatement. While it’s not the MCU’s first foray into the small screen, it’s certainly the most ambitious. In fact, it might be one of the most ambitious TV projects in recent history, paying homage to the medium as it subverts it to hell and back and leaving an endless sea of memes and fan theories in its wake
As WandaVision’s weird, wild, wonderful ride comes to its own conclusion this week, there is one burning question it needs to answer: Could Marvel have been doing this the whole time?
I mean… sure, the MCU needed to build itself on a strong foundation of core characters and formulaic hero arcs. It needed to take its time and ease the majority of the movie-going public into a world where superheroes were commonplace. And it took meticulous planning into interconnect what’s soon to be more that two-dozen feature-length films into the same (mostly) seamless continuity. But did we really have to sit through Iron Man 2 and Thor: The Dark World before we got to the good stuff?
It’s not just the scale of WandaVision’s ambitions, either. Although this is a show that didn’t break out of its in-universe fantasy until the very end of episode three, but how the time is spent with its characters. After being briefly introduced in the post-credits scene of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, both Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) were formally introduced in Avengers: Age of Ultron, along with scores of other characters and a plot that never really came together. Though they’ve each had a fair amount of screen time, always in someone else’s movies, nuanced character exploration was never the MCU’s strong suit.
Wanda’s backstory, trapped in her apartment with her (now-dead) twin brother forced to watch in fear as a Stark-brand missile just happened to not explode inches away, was told almost immediately. Though it served solely as a mechanism for her radicalization by HYDRA, which she renounced shortly thereafter and became an Avenger. In the same film, we saw Vision literally created from one of the Infinity Stones, denying him the ability to even have a backstory. While both have been discussed in following MCU entries, as was their burgeoning romance among the strangest of circumstances — which is being a superhero/celebrity in the increasingly expanding MCU.
Now, amid all its sitcom trope sendups, the (likely) made-up twins, and the raw power of Wanda Maximoff on full, chaotic display, we’re seeing who these characters are and what they’ve become because of this. As a result, in a series that’s filled with god-tier level witchcraft, resurrected superpowered androids, and very strong multiverse implications, it’s a fundamentally human story.
It’s certainly not the first time a TV show has flaunted its admiration and disregard for the boundaries inherent to the medium, fusing otherworldly weirdness with grounded tales. Though it’ll likely go down as one of the most-remembered — and one of the MCU’s most salient turning points. Of course, it’ll also be remembered for Kathryn Hahn’s take on Agatha Harkness and her theme song. Also valid.
*For the record, I’m betting that the Luke Skywalker in The Mandalorian cameo that Olsen teased a few weeks back will be Tony Stark welcoming Vision to the afterlife.
WandaVision is available to stream on Disney+