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WandaVision thoughts

This entry is going to be about my thoughts on WandaVision and features spoilers, so continue at your peril. As with the Mandalorian, it’s been really handy to have a new episode to look forward to each week in these odd times that are mostly spent at home.

When WandaVision was first announced, I wasn’t particularly bothered. I didn’t have much interest in Wanda or Vision based on their MCU appearances. This this is more due to the fact that the characters didn’t have a massive amount to do with their limited screen time. And I didn’t know a lot about their characters from the comics, other than a few things I’ve read online. Then again, you’re much more likely to enjoy things if you go in with low expectations.

But by the end, I had become emotionally invested in a relationship between an omnipotent being and a robot. Yes, I know Vision is a synthezoid, but ‘robot’ makes that sentence read funnier.

The series could have been a massive failure, but it succeeded due to the writing and commitment of the actors involved. This series really showed what a talent Elizabeth Olsen is when given the opportunity and the right material. It was such a nuanced performance, effortlessly flitting between victim and villain. And I really hope she receives all the awards going.

Paul Bettany also gave a great performance. Vision was just as confused about everything that was happening as the viewer. And Kathryn Hahn simply stole every scene she was in, plus she has the best theme tune of any Marvel villain.

The show took a couple of episodes to get going and the 1950s-60s sitcom setting was fun and I was trying to figure out just what the hell was going on. My theory proved correct that Wanda had basically created a pocket reality like Center Parcs where she could control everything, known as the Hex.

I’ve never seen a TV show quite like it and it constantly surprised me. In the sitcoms setting, there was something creepy and more sinister just below the surface. I used to love The Outer Limits in the 1990s and this certainly had a similar feel in places.

Jumping a decade with each instalment didn’t work at all for the most recent X-Men films in terms of continuity, but here it made much more sense. The decades progress in parallel with Wanda losing control over everything as it gets closed to present day (in the MCU, ‘present day’ means 2023). Then there’s the meta-level of those outside the Hex watching what’s happening on TV screens, theorising and trying to figure everything out just as the viewers were. In fact, I would have weekly calls with Marvel expert and former comedy partner Langton to do just that.

And on the subject of the X-Men, there was that certain appearance from Evan Peters as Pietro. He was the best thing about the most recent X-Men films and a much better character than the MCU’s version of Quicksilver, which was a rare misstep by Marvel. When he first appeared at the end of a WandaVision episode, I thought they’d brought him through the multi-verse from the Fox universe.

Yet the more time we spent with this character in WandaVision, the more it became clear what something wasn’t quite right. I’d predicted in conversations with Langton that it either was the Fox Quicksilver, or it was actually the actor Evan Peters. As it turned out, I was closer with the latter guess. Although I would be lying if I said I had guessed the Ralph Bohner swerve.

This Bohner decision has provoked some backlash from some fans online, which seems to be pretty easy to do these days. Yes, it could have been better. But it’s not worth getting angry because a theory you’ve thought up and can intricately explain doesn’t turn out to materialise. Then again, this anger normally means you have a successful YouTube channel and don’t need a regular job.

I didn’t hate the reveal and the MCU has been known to pull similar stunts before, see The Mandarin/Trevor Slattery. But I have a sneaking suspicion that we will see Evan Peters again in Doctor Strange 2, which the end of WandaVision set-up.

Minor MCU characters Darcy and Jimmy Woo reprised their roles to great effect, and the series introduced Monica Rambeau – as an adult anyway. This introduction was really well done, as it was fascinating to see the immediate aftermath of rematerialising after the Hulk Snap. I’m looking forward to seeing where they go with this character next, especially one with such cool powers.

The finale was also been criticised online, particularly the fight in the skies between Agnes and Wanda throwing magic at each other from a distance. But I enjoyed the episode and didn’t have any real problem with the magic chucking.

It’s since crossed my mind that it was possibly shot in this way because of social distancing, as the makers said that about a third of the series was filmed after Covid had forced it to stop for a few weeks. That’s my theory. Franky, we’re lucky to even have such a show during a global pandemic.

Ultimately, it is a show about grief and trying to find a way through it. And it is utterly mad, in the best possible way. But then sometimes grief can have this effect, albeit without all the superpowers, creating a pocket reality, and taking an entire town hostage.

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