Wonderful ‘WandaVision’

Superhero couple Wanda and Vision. An homage to TV sitcom classics like ‘Leave It to Beaver’ and ‘Family Ties.’

By Wendell Gaa

The year 2021 appears to be yet another pandemic year despite the increase of vaccination rollouts and continuing lockdown. The main form of cinematic entertainment remains online TV streaming at home. 

Thankfully one addictive mini-series which is now available for streaming on Disney+ is “WandaVision,” which follows the story of two popular superhero characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) — Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch portrayed by Elizabeth Olsen, and Vision played by Paul Bettany. The series further explores their respective fates and romantic relationship in the aftermath of the events of the 2019 epic blockbuster “Avengers: Endgame,” the highest grossing film ever. 

In contrast to other films and series produced by Marvel Studios, “WandaVision” is not a straight-out action-packed show.  Its plot rather consists of weekly episodes which depict this “magical” virtual/alternate reality in a town called Westview in New Jersey created by the Scarlet Witch herself.  In this reality, Maximoff plays out the role of an ideal suburban wife married to her magically resurrected husband, none other than her deceased lover Vision (last seen in 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity War” where he had met his untimely death at the hands of the galactic supervillain Thanos).  Their idyllic and happy life together is manifested in the form of actual television series “episodes” in which they superficially play out their part of the perfect American suburbia family.  These “episodes” are homage to landmark classic TV series which were pioneering for the respective decades when they were released (ex: “Leave It to Beaver” in the 1950s, “Bewitched” in the 1960s, “Partridge Family” in the 1970s, “Family Ties” in the 1980s, etc.).

On the surface, “WandaVision” may seem like a light-hearted take on the relationship and misadventures of the MCU’s two star-crossed lovers. But as each episode progresses, one will definitely sense that not all is what it seems and that there is something dark and sinister afoot.  It is this kind of nuanced narrative for which I am appreciating “WandaVision” so much. I find this kind of genre storytelling to be a breath of fresh air from other typical and more generic superhero films and series.  Not that I find anything wrong with the latter, but such unique superhero plotting is yet another fine example of the talent of Marvel Studios for cinematic diversity, in spite of some Hollywood pundits accusing the MCU of being comparable to “theme parks” where the same story and themes redundantly and repetitively happen all over again. 

As expected, the visuals in this mini-series are astounding, yet even more so are the performances from the actors themselves.  Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany prove again how they easily fit into their respective characters of the Scarlet Witch and Vision perfectly like an arm glove, and to see their interaction of intimacy and conflict grow in each episode is nothing short of enthralling.  The supporting cast is additionally fun to watch, particularly actress-comedian Kathryn Hahn, who may be best remembered from the 2000s crime drama “Crossing Jordan,” and Teyonah Parris whose character has links to another Marvel hit film “Captain Marvel.”  Returning MCU actors Randall Park and Kat Dennings are an additional welcome entry to the mini-series as well. 

The FilAm community can take pleasure in the fact that one of its own, double EGOT winner Robert Lopez and his wife Kristen Andersen-Lopez are the composers for the theme music of “WandaVision.”  His musical talent is so masterfully applied to this show which reflects the assortment of its different “decade era” TV musical themes from the 1950s to the present time.  

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© The FilAm 2021

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