The Marvel Cinematic Universe scales down to the small screen with a new half-hour series about The Avengers’ favorite android-human couple.
The first two episodes of WandaVision – featuring Wanda Maximoff and Vision – finally debuted on Disney+ over the weekend, setting up a genre that Marvel’s heroes haven’t really explored under Kevin Feige’s new universe: a situation comedy. In the show’s first two episodes that premiered Friday, we were re-introduced to two of the stars of INFINITY WAR and ENDGAME as they move into an idyllic suburb and try to fit in with their new neighbors.
WandaVision is ostensibly a send-up of classic 1960s TV comedies – at least in the first two episodes – there’s something more sinister hiding just below the surface. Both episodes featured little hints that all is not as it seems, leaving viewers wondering what the series plans are and where they go from the show’s opening salvo.
In the debut, Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) are a couple in love who just want to fit in to their new neighborhood. The first two episodes are almost entirely in black and white, aping classic sitcoms from the 1960s.
First, in an homage to the wackiness of the Dick Van Dyke Show and I Love Lucy, Wanda and Vision host Vision’s boss and his boss’ wife – the Harts – for a very important dinner party. The comedic miscommunication begins when the couple sees a heart on the calendar and assume it’s a special, romantic occasion for the pair.
Kathryn Hahn debuts here as next door neighbor Agnes, who tries to help Wanda get ready for her big night with Vision. Hahn is perfectly cast here, as I always thought she could have been a breakout TV star in the medium’s golden age of sitcoms. She nails the best friend charm and brings the perfect energy levels to her scenes.
Next, the couple are set to take part in a talent show – doing a magic act – to raise money for the local school district. While Wanda meets the ladies organizing the event, Vision goes off to the neighborhood watch, where he tries a piece of gum and swallows it, which causes the android to end up a little drunk at the talent show. His escapades force Wanda to use her magic to cover.
Added to the cast in the second episode is BUFFY alum Emma Caulfield Ford. As Dottie, the head of the talent show organizers, she deadpans and scolds for most of the second episode until Wanda and Vision (sorry, Glamour and Illusion) win over everyone in the audience.
Each episode has moments where the comedy breaks, giving hints that this isn’t just standard situations played for laughs. When the mood turns serious – like in the second episode, when Wanda and Vision go outside to see a man in a beekeeper outfit climbing out from a sewer grate – the tone of the show gets oddly disconcerting. Other times, like when the color red pops through their black and white world, gives Wanda pause, as a voice that maybe only we can hear asks, “Who did this to you, Wanda?”
I loved those moments, as it made WandaVision a mystery on top of the sitcom homages. The Disney+ series is supposedly meant to bridge into the Doctor Strange sequel, which will in turn lead into the third SPIDER-MAN movie, all of which is building a multiverse of Marvel’s own. After the opening chapters of that larger story, I’m excited to see where it goes.