Wandavision is anything but your typical MCU experience. Gone are the over the top fight scenes, formula driven origin stories, and mostly vanilla villains that defined nearly every single MCU installment. In their place, Wandavision took a major risk showing a jovial deep-dive into Wanda’s growing anguish, pain, and possible insanity.
In case you missed it, Wandavision started earlier this year (2021) on January 15th on Disney+. To say the least, fans of the MCU didn’t 100% understand this first glimpse back into the universe since Spider-Man: Far From Home.
Wandavision opened with a fun spin through a 1950s era sitcom, complete with a live studio audience and no color. Fight scenes and other common elements of the MCU made no appearance.
Many fans finished the first episode thinking Marvel’s producers had also lost their minds like Wanda. Patient viewers, and those familiar with the comics, knew there was more to the show. Within 3 episodes, the happy, sitcom vibe of show started to deteriorate, revealing a bigger mystery that is slowly unfolding over the course of weekly episodes.
The risky approach, bucking the norm of nearly every MCU project, is starting to pay off for casual and hardcore fans alike. And to boot, we get to sadistically sit back and enjoy watching Wanda slip more and more into madness.
And Jesus Christ it has been fun.
What's in this review
Who is in Wandavision
Let’s start with the basics. To understand what is happening in Wandavision, you need to know who the two main characters are.
Sure, there are other important characters that are introduced, but in the interest of not spoiling anything, I have left them out of this particular guide. See, I can be nice.
Wanda Maximoff aka the Scarlet Witch
The MCU first introduced Wanda Maximoff (played by Elizabeth Olsen) in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Or, if you want to get technical you douche bag nerd sitting back saying “ackchyually…”, she was shown for about 10 seconds in the post-credit scene of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. But since she didn’t get formally introduced until Age of Ultron, that’s her actual introduction.
Anyway, she and her twin brother, Pietro, are orphaned twins from Sokovia, who volunteered to be Hydra experiments. She gained all kinds of cool mind and energy based powers that made her one of the most powerful Avengers. Her brother got fast, not faster than a bullet, but that’s a different story…
After getting in with the wrong crowd and helping Ultron nearly destroy the world, she joined the Avengers only to accidently kill innocent people and kick off the main events of Captain America: Civil War.
She spent a few years on the run with Captain America’s crew while having a forbidden love affair with a animatronic sex doll known as Vision. Less then 2 years later, she had to blow him up to destroy the mind stone, one of six infinity stones, to save the universe.
Immediately after blowing up her sex doll, she had to watch as Thanos, a big mean purple guy, used the time stone, another magic space rock, to bring him back to life only to rip the magic rock out of his head.
Well shit, no wonder she created this alternate universe. I mean Thor turned to carbs and beer, she turned to recreating reality. Seems legit.
Vision (played by Paul Bettany) or Wanda’s glorified sex doll, as I like to call him, started life as a synthetic man Ultron originally created as his new body in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Long story incredibly short, the Avengers stopped Ultron before he could use the new body and ended up creating Vision instead.
Like Wanda, he joined the Avengers following Ultron’s defeat. But unlike Wanda, he stayed with the Avengers during their little tiff known as the Civil War.
Shortly following that time, he desired some Sokovian pun tang. Breaking protocol, he actively sought out Wanda and engaged in some sort of romantic fling… I mean, does he actually even have the right parts? Why would Ultron need to design a shlong for his new body? Maybe someone attached it later? Why am I overthinking this dude’s penis? So many questions.
Not long after, his lover and Thanos both end up killing him in Avengers: Infinity War. Talk about a shitty day.
The next time we see Vision, he is living in Westview with Wanda, seemingly alive. But is he really? Only time will tell.
What is going on in the show?
Wanda has had a pretty messed up life. She witnessed her parents die while waiting to die from a bomb that never exploded. After living as an orphan, she and her twin brother sign up to be human experiments, and she gains an immense amount of power. At first, she uses it for bad, sees her errors, and then uses it for good. She ends up killing innocent people by accident, lives as a criminal for years, and has an lovely fling with a glorified sex robot. Finally, she has to kill her sex toy and then needs to cope with the loss.
Rather than coping with the loss like normal people do with alcohol, carbs, or therapy, she used her power to create or manipulate an alternate reality where she lives with her robotic sex doll across several decades of sitcoms. The show really demonstrates her detachment from reality and her desire to stay in her happy bubble or hex, as it comes to be known.
There is a lot of speculation about the origin of the hex shaped sphere that encompasses the town. Some believe Wanda created it in her grief while others believe another force is causing the hex. Either way, Wanda can manipulate what is going inside. People living in the town all go along with Wanda’s delusions, which creates a very weird first couple of episodes.
The more episodes in you get, the more the mystery deepens and the more interesting it becomes.
What sitcoms is Wandavision based on?
If the first week confused you, don’t worry, you’re not alone. The first few episodes left a lot of people frustrated and perplexed.
Here’s the deal. Wanda or Wanda and an unknown antagonist created an alternate reality based on popular sitcoms starting from the 1950s. Though not proven, many speculate that the sitcoms are Wanda’s only understanding of what “normal” life is since she never experienced a normal ‘Murican childhood. But it is possible she watched some of the shows depicting American life throughout her time as an Avenger and fugitive.
So far, the sitcoms she has loosely drawn inspiration from seem to include shows such as:
- I Love Lucy
- I Married Joan
- I Dream of Genie
- Leave it to Beaver
- The Brady Bunch
- Married… with Children
- Full House
- Modern Family
- Malcom in the Middle
There is argument for others too and likely there will be more references before the first season is over. But Wandavision does a good job of portraying the various decades of sitcoms in the style they would have been presented.
So where does Wandavision fit into the overall MCU timeline?
To the casual viewer, the MCU’s timeline jumps all over the goddamn place. And the truth is, it does jump all over the god damn place. Oddly though, the timeline mostly makes coherent sense, even if the stories have not all gone in chronological order.
In the grand scope of the MCU, Wandavision takes place about 3 to 4 weeks following the events of Avengers: End Game. This puts it about 7 months before the events of Spider-Man: Far From Home, which came out in 2019. And it takes place about 7 years after the events of Black Widow, which has not yet been released and has been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
So… Yeah, the MCU skips around a lot. The important thing to know is that the events of Wandavision occur after the events of Avengers: End Game. For a guide on the best orders to watch the rest of the MCU, you can check out my post on the MCU watch order here.
New to the MCU, here’s the minimum you need to watch
Wandavision is the latest project in an ever expanding MCU. Prior to Disney+, the franchise exclusively featured only feature length films ranging in quality from a few terrible installments, like Thor: Dark World, and several gems like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Avengers: Infinity War.
If you are brand new to the MCU, jumping into Wandavision will be like entering the middle of a book at a random sentence. You won’t have a clue what the hell is goin on and will probably give up on it after less than an episode.
If you want a minimum, and I do mean minimum, understanding of what the hell is going on, you’ll need to watch the following MCU films (all available on Disney+):
- Marvel The Avengers
- Captain America: Winter Soldier
- Avengers: Age of Ultron – this is Wanda and Vision’s origin story so really can’t skip
- Captain America: Civil War
- Avengers: Infinity War
- Avengers: End Game
As a bonus, if you want to know who some of the side and supporting characters are, you could also watch:
- Thor: Dark World – warning, it’s terrible and usually voted the least liked MCU movie, often by far
- Captain Marvel
- Ant Man and the Wasp
Where to watch Wandavision
Wandavision is the first of several streaming series that are set to come out on Disney+. The only legal way to watch Wandavision is to subscribe to or share a Disney+ account. You can sign up here if you want to.
As of February 2021, Wandavision is releasing a new episode every week. Since I will likely forget to update this section, if you are reading this past March 2021, you can stream all the episodes of season 1 all at once. It’s a great option for people who like to binge watch shows or who are too impatient to wait a week to see the next installment.
It is unclear if there will be a second season of Wandavision at this time. I suppose it depends on the story they end up telling and if it comes to a natural end on the last episode.
Wandavision is an escape from reality. No, seriously, Wanda has gone bat shit crazy in this show.
I guess that’s what happens after you kill the love of your life only to watch him reanimate and then get killed again moments later. And let’s face it, Wanda’s life was not exactly easy prior to her escaping reality in Westview. She has:
- watched her parents die while waiting to die from a bomb that didn’t go off
- volunteered as a Hydra experiment
- helped Ultron nearly destroy the world
- helped to stop Ultron from nearly destroying the world
- experienced her brother’s death
- became an Avenger
- killed innocent people by accident
- became a fugitive
- and of course, had to kill her animated sex doll lover
That’s a lot of shit for a 20 something to go through. So yeah, the reality she created in Westview makes a lot of sense for someone coping with a whole bunch of emotional baggage.
And it all works very well. Sure, a lot of impatient people fretted over the first few episodes. Many seemed to not comprehend how there was no action, big explosions, or a fast-paced plot. But the show is so much more than the cheesy reenactments of several decades worth of television.
The show is a slow build. A mystery. Nothing going on in Westview is as it seems, and each passing episode helps to further shed light on what is really happening. And it’s all the better because, unlike some other TV or streaming series that featured Marvel characters, this one ties directly into previous and upcoming MCU projects.
If you are looking for something new to watch and enjoy the MCU or you gave up after the first episode thinking Kevin Feige is the one who went bat shit crazy making this show, give it a try. Once you get past the first couple of episodes, you’ll start to see the plot really start to unfold.
Slow building plot that takes it time with character and world creation.
A part of the larger MCU.
Mysterious elements to the show that make it more interesting to watch.
First few episodes might confuse some people or make them doubt the show.