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WandaVision 'First look' - Review

Marvel Studios tease mystery and intrigue while celebrating old-school sitcom genius

563 days. That's how long Marvel fans have had to wait for a first glance at what Phase 4 of the MCU might have to offer. While WandaVision isn't strictly tied to the next segment of the franchise, it follows the events of Avengers: Endgame (2019) where Wanda was last seen mourning the loss of Vision.

So where does WandaVision take place? As of yet, we don't know! The first episode opens with Vision carrying Wanda over the threshold in their wedding attire as they move into their new home in a town called Westview. It appears the pair want to settle down and blend into an ideal suburban lifestyle while also trying to conceal their powers. From the design and black-and-white overlay, it's safe to assume that this episode takes place during the 1950s. Another giveaway is the nod to what looks like The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966) through the show's set design (the living room and kitchen are an almost carbon-copy of what was used in the early 60s sitcom), costumes and narrative (I feel like I've watched an episode of TDVDS with a similar storyline).

Chaos opens (cue the flying paint smashing into Vision's head) and ensues when Wanda and Vision can't seem to figure out what occasion they had marked on their calendar that day, with a slight piece of vital miscommunication setting up the comedic climax of the episode. A number of characters are introduced including Agnes (Kathryn Hahn), the couple's nosy neighbour who seems to be a bit too concerned with their business to just be the curious housewife living next door, and the Harts, Vision's boss and his wife who leave an awkward feeling after the weird events of a dinner party.

And what first clue were viewers given? As the credits began to roll and the music faded away, the picture zooms out to reveal the events of the last 20 minutes had been observed by somebody who watched everything happening on a television screen. Very unusual indeed!

Cut to episode two where there seems to be a time jump to the 1960s (based on the costumes and the fact that Wanda and Vision now live in a two-storey house). In this episode, the couple begins to socialise with the neighbourhood a bit more as they prepare a magic act for the local talent show which has been organised "for the children" (if you know, you know). It's during this time that Wanda starts to notice a few strange things like finding a toy helicopter in the garden hedge and a voice speaking to her through the radio.

The second big clue is given at the end of the episode where after discovering that Wanda is suddenly pregnant (how did they miss that?), the pair go outside to find a beekeeper escaping a manhole. This doesn't sit well with Wanda who somehow resets reality to a few moments ago and the setting then moves forward to the 1970s. Again, very weird.

So what do we know or what can we assume after watching? Well, it's very clear that Wanda is able to manipulate this reality she finds herself in which suggests that she has control of the situation. However, the fact that somebody is trying to communicate with her implies that nobody knows where she is. Has the grief of losing Vision turned her completely bonkers or has a new villain taken advantage of her abilities for their own personal gain? We just don't know yet!

It was a big risk to reintroduce Marvel with a time-travelling superhero sitcom after years of flashy and striking blockbusters but it seems to have paid off. The performances of Olsen and Bettany are really entertaining, with Olsen playing the role as the non-conformative, energetic housewife with ease and flair. Also, I can't see Debra Jo Rupp as any other character than Kitty Forman so it was nice to see her effortlessly returning to her famous roots. The pacing of the show is fun, and the homages to past sitcoms is a nice added touch that fans of the shows referenced will enjoy.

As a sitcom lover, I am utterly obsessed with the current look of WandaVision and so looking forward to seeing the mystery of Wanda's whereabouts unfold. I'm also intrigued to see how Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) and Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) will tie into the storyline, as well as the introduction of Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris). But for now, it appears things could be getting a great deal stranger in the small town of Westview...

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