Now I know why Disney decided to make the first three episodes of WandaVision available for reviewers. It wasn’t just to entice reviewers to get a leg up on regular viewers. It was mostly because WandaVision’s third episode significantly picks things up. By the end of the episode, you get a more solid idea of what’s going on. But, more importantly, even the most dense viewers will realize this isn’t really the “Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first sitcom” as Disney promoted. No, WandaVision is not the happy, cheerful homage to classic situational comedies some people thought it was going to be like.
And I do like this because WandaVision is actually is Disney giving us the opposite of the “traditional” Marvel Cinematic Universe formula. At least in my eyes, anyway.
Oh, I hate to bring this up, but this will have to be a SPOILER FILLED post. I mean, it’s going to impossible to explain my point without revealing some of the more intriguing moments of WandaVision.
Anyway, to understand what I mean, I do have to explain what the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s formula from my point of view. A typical Marvel movie isn’t a superhero movie, actually. It’s a twist on a very old movie genre and they just add superheroes and supervillains for more flavor. The Captain America movies are a good example. The first film is a war movie as well as a good old fashioned swashbuckling adventure mixed in with a swashbuckling adventure. It just so happens to have Captain America in it. The second and third films are a mix of spy and conspiracy thrillers… with Captain America. The closest solo Marvel film that comes close to being a true-blue superhero film is, oddly enough, Iron Man. It’s a take on the classic “hero’s journey” tale that’s as old as time.
WandaVision is kind of like that, but, at the same time, it isn’t as it’s a more layered version of the genre-bending superhero film. On the surface, it does look like the Marvel formula of taking a genre, which looks like a sitcom in WandaVision’s case, and putting superheroes in it. But, after the third episode, you know it’s just just a “sitcom with superheroes” in truth. It’s actually a horror-slash-thriller. So, WandaVision actually has two layers to it: the cover that it’s a full-fledged comedy and the second that it’s actually creepy.
Speaking of comedy, Marvel does have a incredible track record for inserting humor into its projects. The writers always weave in a joke or two, just to break the seriousness. This is one of the reasons why we like a lot of the characters and we feel good when we watch the films. Of course, not everyone likes this as they do feel out of place at times. But, for the most part, the jokes do land and they’re spaced out just right.
WandaVision, despite its sitcom trappings, isn’t all that funny. Okay, it would be unfair to really judge the humor by today’s standards as one of the primary gimmicks of the show is that it’s copying the sitcoms of yesteryear. And not a lot of the jokes from those sitcoms are actually funny. In retrospect, WandaVision does nail it on that aspect. However, it is strange for something that’s a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to be intentionally unfunny. On the flipside of things, the show, that’s supposed to be funny, is interrupted by the brief moments of uneasiness and creepiness. Once again, the exact opposite of the “traditional” Marvel formula.
However, regardless of how layered the tones are and generally (intentionally) unfunny WandaVision is, the element that really makes it come off as different is the main characters. Now, I’m just speculating here, but it does seem like all signs point to Wanda Maximoff, the central protagonist of WandaVision, is actually the villain. And it looks like they’re going to make us root for the “villain” in some way!
All throughout the first three episodes of WandaVision, it has been hinted that Wanda does have some control over what’s happening in Westview. The first episode’s hint was very subtle but she basically broke character and sort of commanded Vision to help his boss when he was choking. In the second episode, it does seem as if it’s Wanda that demolishes the radio with her powers. The episode also has Wanda rewinding time when she and Vision spot the “beekeeper” emerge from the manhole. She rewinds time yet again in the third episode when Vision starts questioning how strange everything is. Wanda is also is the one to expel “Geraldine” from the sitcom reality when she mentions Ultron.
Right now, it’s too early to tell what’s really happening. Maybe someone is manipulating Wanda into creating this alternate reality as hinted in the second episode. With that in mind, however, she might not even be aware of what she’s doing or how much control she have over what’s happening. Whether she’s being tricked or whether she’s doing it subconsciously, Wanda is definitely doing something to the town and the people in order to control most of the events that happen.
It does seem like the townspeople do realize this at times. The wife of Vision’s boss seemingly pleads with Wanda to “stop it.” The bossy neighborhood queen bee looks confused when the voice comes over the radio. The doctor meekly resigns to his fate that he can’t leave town. Even Agnes and Herb, Wanda and Vision’s neighbors appear frightened when they learn “Geraldine” is all alone with Wanda in the house. So, if Wanda does have control over the town and the people in it, she’s doing it against their will. And this makes her the villain of the story. Heck, she even acts rather sinister when the twins are born, remembers she’s a twin as well and creepily sings a Sokovian lullaby.
If this theory is correct, you have to ask yourself, when did any entry of the Marvel Cinematic Universe focus on the villain? The closest I can think of would be Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War but, even in that film, he never came off as the valiant hero. In WandaVision, if Wanda is indeed doing all of this, she’s supposed to be the character we cheer for! Even if it’s revealed she’s being manipulated into doing this by some shadowy figure in the background, she allowed herself to do all of this, probably because of all the lost she’s suffered; the death of her twin brother and her lover really hit her hard. So why not construct a reality where she wasn’t a superhero who had to deal with all the painful loss?
These three points, especially the possibility that Wanda is the antagonist of sorts, makes WandaVision a very different beast from the other entries of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I do applaud Marvel and even Disney for putting a significantly different spin on their tried and true formula. It just goes to prove that, just because something is different, it doesn’t have to be bad.
What’s your take on WandaVision and the direction its taking? Let me know in the comments section below!