Marvel’s Back: An Introduction to WandaVision

In 2009, Tony Stark declared that he was Iron Man, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) was born. Releasing an astounding total of 23 movies in one decade, the MCU has expanded to include new planets, villains, Infinity stones, and dozens more superheroes since Stark originally donned his shiny red-and-gold suit. 

The franchise originally presented a plan for future productions not long after the pain of Endgame had settled in 2019. The long-awaited Black Widow was set to release in May of 2020, followed by The Falcon and the Winter Soldier miniseries this past fall and eight more projects throughout 2021. But, alas, Covid-19 safety restrictions, movie theater shutdowns, and delayed editing and filming rounds forced these productions on hold. 

The Marvel fandom has been patient before. They thought Loki was dead, like, six times, only to watch him magically emerge unannounced in every Thor movie. They mourned and agonized for over a year after Infinity War’s catastrophic resolution in wait of the heroic culmination of Avengers: Endgame. But the unexpected lull in any Marvel content during these past eighteen months has left many spoiled fans desperate for release dates of any kind. 

Kasey: The Buildup

My wait for these previous multi-million dollar blockbusters was much more underwhelming. I entrenched myself into the Marvel fandom on a random night during quarantine this summer. My second-ever MCU movie was Infinity War (I loved Black Panther even before I got into the MCU, and I wanted as much T’Challa content as possible), and I’m deeply ashamed to write that I irresponsibly watched Endgame that same night with no previous knowledge of the MCU. What followed was a month-long binge of every Marvel movie in chronological order. I’m writing this six months later, and it’s safe to say that I’m hooked. 

I’ll never know what it felt like to watch these movies in the theater with full knowledge of the MCU behind me, and I’m not going to lie: that stings a little. But consolation came on December 10th of this year (no, I’m not about to dissect Taylor Swift’s newest album that also came out that night, though the two events together made for an earth-shattering day), when Disney released a revised plan for Phase 4 of the MCU that included over a dozen trailers and promos for movies and miniseries in the next two years. Marvel fans were ecstatic with the prospect of new content and impending release dates after the longest drought in MCU history, and I was excited to observe the buildup, conspiracy theories, and easter eggs in these productions that I’d missed out on with the various other 23 MCU film releases over the years. 

“We Just Don’t Know What to Expect:”

The first of these long-awaited projects is Marvel’s WandaVision, whose first two episodes released on January 15th. WandaVision is a nine episode miniseries, and one episode will release on DisneyPlus every Friday until early March. The show features Avenger Wanda Maximoff and her relationship with Vision sometime after the events of Endgame, and multiple aspects of the show leave fans confused, unsettled, and eager for the next episodes. Vision died in Infinity War, and nothing in Avengers: Endgame indicated his possible revival. Yet, in WandaVision (confirmed to take place after Endgame), Vision is a fully developed character. The show also displays different eras of American sitcom history, and the first two episodes suggest that Wanda herself is altering the reality at hand. Unlike previous action-packed MCU blockbusters, the plot is long and drawn out. A majority of the content in the first episodes resemble classic sitcom storylines, but sporadic clues and unnerving twists clearly point towards chaos of some kind. Patient fans love the easter eggs and clues that the producers embedded into the frankly bizarre structure of the show, and conspiracy theories speculating about the path that the show will take have been roaming the internet since the trailer’s release in November. But others, used to dynamic and fast-moving films, were less impressed. The classic MCU action scenes aim to culminate in the last few episodes, and some fans just don’t want to wait that long. A big name-drop accompanied by classic Marvel heartache in the very suspicious final ten minutes of the most recent episode, however, left fans that have stuck with the series (Kasey and Emma included) pretty emo and desperate for more.         

Emma: Not A Classic MCU Blockbuster, and I’m Okay with That

What to say about WandaVison? My love for psychological horror and the use of uncanny valley phenomena might make me a little biased, but I for one am INCREDIBLY excited to continue watching this series. If I’m being honest, the first episode was largely underwhelming until the final few scenes. As Kasey mentioned, the show at face value appears to be an old, black-and-white sitcom, including a corny laugh track and predictable housewife-working husband banter that one would expect from the box VHS sets of 60’s oldies in your grandparents’ attic. As the first episode unfolded, I found myself asking: “Where is my real MCU content?” — meaning, of course, where are my invading aliens, science experiments gone haywire, and mystical beings? However, there is a distinct tonal shift at the end of episode one, in the middle of a dinner party Wanda and Vision have thrown for Vision’s office job boss and his wife. Though subtle, the events that unfold begin to reveal cracks in the seemingly perfect universe that Wanda and Vision have found themselves in. I felt the uncanniness, the slightly off-putting sensation that I so enjoy from other thriller and horror media, and all of a sudden I had a whole new lease on the show.  SOMETHING IS VERY WRONG HERE!!!, my brain screamed, and I was over the moon about it. 

The second episode ramps this discomfort up to the next level, making use of the black-and-white color palette to emphasize certain objects that are thrown into red-and-yellow relief.  Shots of Vision trying to “get in” with the male crowd are interspersed with too-perfect, too-polite housewives at a garden party.  All the interactions characters have in this show seem off, as if something is wrong or missing from the bigger picture.  The end of this second episode once again brings a tonal shift, leaning more into the psychological elements of horror, where a sinister figure emerges from a manhole, and approaches the couple’s house. We as viewers realize that the real main character here is Wanda, whose actions seem to control and shift the world around her. 

Many questions about the series remain. Where are Wanda and Vision? How is Vision present after his unfortunate end in Infinity War? And perhaps most chiefly of all, what exactly is going on here? I, for one, am excited to find out.   

What’s Next?

WandaVision will continue to release episodes on DisneyPlus every Friday until March 5th, directly followed by The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on March 19th. Every DisneyPlus miniseries that is set to release in the upcoming months is in-canon, and thus has bearing on what will happen in the future movies and installments of the Marvel franchise. The release methods of later 2021 projects are currently up in the air, but hopeful rumors report that Black Widow (set to release on May 7 of this year) will premiere both in theaters and on DisneyPlus, and at least three more miniseries are slated to release on DisneyPlus before the end of 2021. We encourage curious readers to watch Tony Stark’s origin story and the other MCU masterpieces before joining the world of WandaVision, and hope that our more impatient Marvel counterparts will stay vigilant and watch to the end of the series, for we doubt they’ll be disappointed.  

Emma Barry ‘22, Features Editor & Kasey Corra ‘22, Co-Assistant Editor-in-Chief &