TV REVIEW: WANDAVISION is a quirky and unique delight that sets an intriguing path forward for the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe


Writer Jac Schaeffer and director Matt Shakman have created an engaging and retro throwback to the vaudeville vibe of the classic TV shows of yesteryear; a show whose subtext promises an ominous beginning to the next stage of big-screen Marvel feature fare.

It’s hard to believe that we’ve gone over a year now without a new big-screen production from Kevin Feige and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Spider-Man Far From Home was our last taste of the MCU since Covid-19 delayed the releases of Black Widow, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, and The Eternals. But this Friday, January 15th brings us the newest project from the fabled House of Ideas, WandaVision, which is debuting exclusively on Disney+. WandaVision reunites us with Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch, first introduced in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, with Paul Bettany’s Vision, whom we last saw losing his life and the Mind Gem to Thanos back in his quest to end half of all life in the cosmos back in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War.

But how is it that Vision is now back and seemingly sharing an idyllic TV sitcom lifestyle with all its tropes and laugh tracks with Wanda here at the start of WandaVision? It’s a mystery the characters are confronted with directly in the first episode of this limited series event and one for which neither character has a satisfactory answer. Wanda and Vision start out by living in an I Love Lucy-esque black and white household; one where Vision works at a computational company where he doesn’t understand what he actually does all day. Wanda is a merry homemaker, but they both have to keep the fact that they’re a witch and a synthezoid under wraps from their nosey neighbors like Agnes (Kathryn Hahn), the local gossip, and gadabout. This premise of being a supernatural character but having to keep it under wraps did wonders for shows like Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie and WandaVision uses it for the same event. The first few episodes deliver straight-forward period sitcom fare, lampooning zany plots and aesthetics from shows like I Love Lucy, Bewitched/I Dream of Jeannie, and The Brady Bunch. It’s to the credit and cracker-jack comedic timing of Olsen and Bettany that this aspect of the show really works and likely Schaeffer played to their talents in conceiving the premise of the show. But the show really works in terms of meta. Under the surface, the audience can tell things are awry and as some characters come to feel that the world isn’t what they make of it, the question arises as to whether Wanda is a prisoner of this Truman Show like television universe, or if she’s somehow enabling its continued existence for her own purposes.

The show plays with this notion of meta throughout in clever ways; from ersatz television commercials to zany double entendres in the dialogue itself. As I noted before, it’s Bettany and Olsen who make the show within a show work, but in particular, Olsen, whose charisma radiates throughout the episodes. She channels the zany confidence that powered many of the classic sitcom leads of yesteryear to great effect, from Bewitched’s Elizabeth Montgomery, all the way to the can do, no matter what energy of Lucille Ball. Hahn also shines here as the Ethel Mertz to Olsen’s Lucy in her role as Agnes, as does Teyonnah Parris as Geraldine, a fellow outsider that Wanda befriends at a Stepford Wives-esque club meeting in Episode 2. Bettany plays the frazzled straight man, channeling Larry Hagman and Dick York at times, with a pinch of Dick Van Dyke. While all this is going down, Schaeffer and Shakman leave small crumbs to suggest a wider world outside of the TV universe the two leads live-in and it’s done brilliantly in such a way that by Episode 3 you’ll be chomping at the bit to find out just what is going down and hoping you could binge this all in one shot.

Overall, WandaVision provides an intriguing portal to the new Phase 4 of the MCU with a really unique premise that leads into a mystery to keep you plugged in for all 9 episodes, with plenty of Easter eggs for Marvel Comics fans as well. Well-worth checking out and at 30 minutes each, the episodes fly by. If you are a fan of classic sitcoms and genre deconstruction in popular media, then this is a one-two punch made just for you. Don’t miss out.