Wanda Maximoff (aka Scarlet Witch) and Vision are the MCU’s most star-crossed and heartbreaking couple. But now they’re reunited in an idyllic suburban hell, searching for bliss while harsh reality creeps in from all sides.
At least I think that’s what’s happening.
When Where & Why
WandaVision is a foray into prestige TV by Disney+. The idea is to take lesser developed or underused characters and put their stories in the small screen spotlight. Think The Mandalorian for the MCU.
The first two episodes give off the vibe of a 50s sitcom: black and white, square picture, and a laugh track. At first you think it’s a spoof on the absurdly perfect, made-for-TV lives from the Leave It To Beaver age. And from gender roles to neighborhood hierarchy, it is. But there’s more to it. WandaVision is consciously generic.
Vision and Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany reprising their roles from The Avengers) seem to have been dropped into some dream sequence. They know they love each other, but don’t know their background. He has an office job but has no idea what the company does. When his boss comes over for dinner, Wanda and Vision can’t answer simple questions like their anniversary. The nosy neighbor, played to perfection by Kathryn Hahn, shows up on cue and cluelessly can’t take a hint on when to leave.
While the pieces individually make sense in the setting of a generic suburbia, none of them fit together to complete the puzzle. We know that Vision died when the Mind Stone was ripped from him twice during Infinity War, and we know it devastated Wanda.
So if this were an origin story, it would rip up the entire canon of both characters. And Marvel guru Kevin Feige is too savvy to recreate I Dream of Jeannie but with super heroes. This is supposed to be set after Endgame, so this could be an elaborate dream Wanda creates to deal with her grief.
Or.. it could be so much more.
A Splash of Color
The first two episodes aren’t entirely black and white. During a ‘commercial’ for a modern toaster from Stark Industries, a small button on the appliance has a red dot. In the second episode, a colorful toy flies into the yard, and at the end, the interior of Vision and Wanda’s home has color. But from the toaster dot to the warm color palate of the living room, red is front and center. Yes, it matches the Stark Industries color and much of Vision’s design, but red is also the color of anger, passion and war.
The ‘commercial’ in the second episode is for a modern watch, but a close look shows it’s from Hydra. The advent of color, Iron Man creeping back into her life, and Hydra’s omnipresence could be Wanda’s grief wall beginning to crumble.
At least I hope it’s something like this. Scarlet Witch has been through too much hardship and grief to be relegated to a classic sitcom spoof. And getting out of that mold has been a slow burn in the first two episodes. But.. I think the next few Fridays will be revealing and fulfilling.
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
Like the cool cats hitting the hotspot on a Friday night in the fabulous fifties, I’m having a martini. Shaken (like Wanda’s psyche) not stirred.