WandaVision: Good but not Great

WandaVision burst onto Disney+ with a mixture of comic book weirdness in vintage sitcoms. Over nine episodes, the show morphed into a mature examination of grief. The show is highly enjoyable but doesn’t quite reach great. For me, this is because the show couldn’t quite escape its MCU roots for me.

The MCU Formula

For me, the MCU is best summed up by the phrase “7 out of 10.” When you sit down to watch an MCU film you are guaranteed a well made, enjoyable action comedy. Some are obviously better than others, but even the worse MCU film is fun. The reason for this guarantee of quality is the formula approach their films take. The formula is:

  • A wise cracking male hero (often played by an actor called Chris)
  • An underwhelming villain who is a mirror image of the hero
  • Daddy Issues
  • Supportive but under-used female lead
  • A loyal best friend/sidekick
  • Overly CGI final battle with the villain
  • Fan Service Easter Eggs/references to the wider MCU

Now not every MCU film follows this mold, but the vast majority of the films contain most, if not all, the elements listed above. This includes the most experimental MCU movies like Thor Ragnarok and Guardians of the Galaxy.

How does WandaVision do?

For the first three episodes, WandaVision avoids the MCU formula completely. Instead, we get a weird show about superheroes living in old 1960s sitcoms with the odd bit of weirdness once in a while. A few Easter Eggs appear but mostly they are in the fake ads which appear roughly halfway through each episode.

The weirdness is ‘interrupted’ by episode four (We Interrupt This Program) which explains everything that has happened up to this point. We know where the toy helicopter Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) finds in episode two comes from and who Geraldine is. They also introduce the MCU’s version of the actual world.

WandaVision: Good but not Great

This explanation felt unneeded and suggested a concern that MCU fans may have been ‘put off’ because the show was too weird. The fact the first two episodes dropped as a double bill while they made the first three episodes available to reviews suggests an element of worry on the maker’s part.

From this point, the show felt safe for the rest of its run and finishes with the standard CGI battle. However, the latter half of the series also contains WandaVision‘s best episode, ‘Previously On’, a close examination of Wanda’s character. This 47 minute episode is arguably the best piece of character development in the whole MCU.

One of Two Ways

The reason WandaVision is Good but not Great, is it can’t decide whether it is a MCU show or a weird tale of grief set in sitcom pastiches. My preference would be for the latter, with the weirdness turned up to eleven. I’d also change the villain into someone trying to help Wanda, rather than fight her.

From an MCU point of view, the only issue this creates is the lack of an origin story for Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris). This, of course, assumes nothing else was introduced quietly, which will become important later.

As I said above, WandaVision is highly enjoyable, and I would recommend it. The performances are great, especially the aforementioned Olsen and Parris but not forgetting Paul Bettany and Kathryn Hahn. Also the dialogue and set production is truly beautiful.

What did you think of WandaVision? Let me know in the comments below!