WandaVision Sets a High Bar for the MCU

Rachel Stern ‘21 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

The pushback of Black Widow due to COVID-19 resulted in a full year with no Marvel Cinematic Universe content. After the MCU drought, WandaVision is the water that fans waited for eagerly, only for the water to be so much tastier and refreshing than expected. The MCU has a formula, that being beloved comic book characters exchanging quips and kicking ass to the delight of the audience. It’s a formula, but it works. WandaVision is unlike anything the MCU has put out, as this is their first show where we can see characters from the movies interacting in the television medium, further connecting and adding to the MCU. Daredevil and other Netflix Marvel shows inhabit a weird space where they are simultaneously part of and not part of the MCU, so they do not really count.

Following the magically-inclined Wanda Maximoff and her synthezoid husband Vision, they try to fit into the the New Jersey suburb Westview as a normal couple through various decades of American sitcoms from The Dick van Dyke Show and I Love Lucy dynamics of the 50s to the Modern Family/The Office styles of humor of the 2010s. Despite everything looking peachy, sinister forces are afoot that threaten the happy couple and the lives they created.

Thanks in no small part to the acting abilities of Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany, Wanda and Vision are incredibly entertaining to watch. In comparison to Marvel protagonists like Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor, Wanda and Vision do not get as much attention as they should in the movies. Centering them creates so many comedic and dramatic scenes that are unlike anything else we’ve seen. Cosmic threats are all fine and good, but Marvel can make you laugh, cry, and scream at Wanda and Vision’s couple dynamics. One moment it is domestic fluff, and a couple seconds later ,it’s a tear-jerking display of an inability to confront grief.

Elizabeth Olsen and Josh Stamberg in WandaVision. Photo courtesy of IMDb.

WandaVision is the first MCU content we have seen since Spiderman: Far From Home, and it keeps pulling us back once a week because every time we want to see more, the “Please Stand By,” ending tag comes in to spoil the fun. Some people call it the main villain of the show. 

What’s so captivating about the show is that it balances comedy and psychological horror. The jokes are decade-appropriate, but they know how to hit modern humor as well. As for psychological horror, it is everywhere, just bubbling under the surface of an idyllic suburban television family. Sometimes it is subtle, and other times it jump-scares after lulling the audience into a false sense of security. The audience knows that something is always off about Westview, and the scary part is that we don’t know why it is so off-putting. Every frozen smiling face creates a nightmarish world that we don’t want to look away from.

WandaVision is over now, and now we have shows like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki to look forward to. WandaVision set an incredibly high bar for MCU television and television in general, and despite it being over, it was the perfect television introduction to the Marvel world we have loved and missed so much.

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