WandaVision, Episode 1 and 2 review

After a long hiatus due to the worldwide pandemic of Covid-19, the Marvel Cinematic Universe returns with its first live action series on Disney+. WandaVision was announced as the most experimental product that the Marvel Studios ever made: let’s talk about the first two episodes and see if the promise was well kept! (SPOILERS AHEAD!)

The MCU is finally back and I couldn’t be more excited about it. It had been too long since Spider Man: Far From Home release over a year and a half ago that initially it didn’t even feel real (wink, wink) to be watching a Marvel product again: only hearing the classic opening soundtrack before every Marvel movie after so much time made me shiver. Yes, I missed the Marvel Cinematic Universe that much. The happiness of seeing Wanda and Vision back in action was already a delight, and in the beginning I couldn’t imagine the level of genius this show was about to show me. The promises were kept, and WandaVision is indeed the most experimental work of the Marvel Studios so far. The first two episodes can appear extremely straightforward and simple at a first inattentive viewing, when in reality the structure, the characters and the story are so much more complex and intriguing, and yet still wrapped in a mysterious box that I am so eager to open.

The first two episodes are indeed an introduction to WandaVision and its “universe” and characters, and the choice of releasing two episodes first is everything but random: these two episodes work extremely well in setting up what it is about to happen in the future ones, which are going to be a total of 9 episodes.
The series takes inspiration from the sitcoms that made history during the years that go from the 50s to the 80s, and every single frame of the show is filled up with references to them, from the direction to the picture and the characters, whose actors’ performances, starting from Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany, are absolutely brilliant. One of the most evident references is the one to Bewitched, the renowned series from the late 60s and early 70s, starting with the music, the same visual effects used when Wanda uses her powers and even the famous opening sequence, revived as the opener for the second episode!

Just like the sitcoms WandaVision refers to, the first two episodes of the series are packed with simple gags, chaperoned from the most classic laugh tracks of those days, but the apparent feeling of happiness and light-heartedness hides something terrible and disturbing, which is probably caused from Wanda’s enormous distress, especially when it comes to the past lives of her and Vision: they seemingly can’t remember anything about their past, their marriage or the reason why they are even there, and all the other characters sometimes act like they are trapped in this reality, likely generated by the same Wanda (willingly or not), and are incapable to react to it. Wanda indeed seems to be in control of this black and white reality, exception made for some external interferences that she tries to fight back and keep out of her visionary universe.

When Wanda seems to gain more awareness of the outside world or her past, some on-screen elements acquire colour: from the luminous red light of the ToastMate 2000 branded Stark, to the red helicopter and the blood from the hand of Dottie, until the moment when, from Vision’s head, the colours spread to all the surroundings at the end of episode 2. The same advertisements in between the episodes are clear references to Wanda and her past, as the above mentioned toaster is a reference to the ticking bomb ready to explode just in front of Wanda and Pietro back in Sokovia, or the Strucker wristwatch that refers to the person who made experiments on the twins and their joining with HYDRA.
The vertical plot of the single episodes, despite taking most of the minutes, feels as something entirely secondary and its only purpose is to introduce the story and to create the contrast with the moment of tensions: the viewer has always the feeling that, even in the most easy-going moments, there’s something wrong and is constantly waiting for something terrible to happen that, in the end, does happen.

Some of the characters introduced are already tied with the MCU and the Marvel Comics universe, starting with Agnes which in the comics is Wanda’s mentor, and Monica Rambeau, and old acquaintance of the sole MCU fans, too, as her character appears in Captain Marvel as the daughter of Maria, Carol Denvers’ friend and fellow pilot, and now appears all grown-up in WandaVision. The question is, why is she in Wanda’s vision? Wanda never met her for what we know so far, and this makes us wonder about the characters and the real reason why they’re potentially trapped in this illusion. The fact that we find out, at the end of the first episode that someone is seemingly watching and taking notes on everything that is happening from and old television, increases the mystery and the curiosity of us all.
We know that WandaVision is strictly connected with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and that it will potentially start the Marvel Multiverse as we know it from the comics, which it eventually leads to the appearance of some other characters which are confirmed (or almost confirmed) to appear in the series, all familiar faces to superheroes’ fans.

The direction of the first episodes is simply fantastic: from a rawer and old-fashoned direction made up by more static takes and an older aspect ratio, we gradually move towards a more modern and current way of direction and aspect ratio, especially during specific moments, such as the scene where a mysterious beekeeper appears, to get to the end of the second episode when it takes over just moments before colours brightens up the screen again, paving the way for the story to develop even further with the next episodes, which are promising to be spicy to say the least.

WandaVision is definitely something we have never witnessed before within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and its landing threatens to turn upside down everything we have learned to know so far: rules are about to change, just like Kevin Feige and his team changed the rules of their typical films to present us this (so far) genial series. The promise was kept, the mood has been set and so have the expectations.

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