Review: WandaVision, as Wanda-ful as people say?

Now that WandaVision has come to an end, Michael Duckworth gives his thoughts on the next step in the MCU

Michael Duckworth
10th March 2021
Credit: IMDb

SPOILERS FOR THE WANDAVISION FINALE

WandaVision may be hands down the greatest Marvel property I’ve ever watched, but it is not the subversive success I hoped it would be. In my mid-series review, I forewarned a shift into the classic Marvel superhero action movie status quo, and in a way, I was right.

The sit-com premise was sidelined by episode 4 and completely forgotten after episode 7’s attempt at a The Office-style mockumentary. As Icarus flew too close to the sun, WandaVision rose to great heights, but the glory was short-lived as it tumbled down into an ocean of Marvel banality.

Kathryn Hahn in WandaVision

The second half of the series fell into two halves. Outside of Wanda's own dimension known as the 'Hex' lay the predictably corrupt and war-hungry “S.W.O.R.D” organization and its heroic splinter group who clashed over whether to kill Wanda or save her in order to destroy the 'Hex'. Inside Wanda’s bubble however, lay a much more interesting battle. Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn), a dark and powerful Salem witch had sensed Wanda’s power and disguised herself in Westview as the nosey neighbour, Agnes, and plotted to steal Wanda’s powers. While Marvel comics fans sniffed this twist out from a mile away, I was genuinely shocked and delighted by the realisation, even though, in hindsight, it had been staring me in the face this whole time.

Presentation sure is key, Credit: IMDb

In the wise words of Megamind, what distinguishes a Villain from a Super Villain is PRESENTATION, and by god does Agatha give 110% in that department.

Agatha All Along has been stuck in my head for over two weeks now and has cemented itself as the greatest twist-villain reveal of all time, at least by my standards. Kathryn Hahn was an absolute delight, through the whole show she was a fantastic side character but once Agatha’s true colours were revealed she really came into her own, balancing the campy wickedness reminiscent of Hocus Pocus while maintaining a malicious threatening presence and providing the perfect foil to Wanda.

The great final confrontation is inhibited by the encroaching outside world, and its tropes

Unfortunately, WandaVision didn’t quite stick the landing. The final episode had a great final confrontation between Wanda and Agatha, but as the outside world crept in, so did the tropes. Vision, who felt rather forgotten in the latter half of the series as we focussed more on Wanda, just spent several episodes catching up with the audience on the nature of the Hex. In the finale, he had a flying-robot-forehead-laserbeam battle with a white version of himself, constructed by S.W.O.R.D. This then ended with some shoe-horned philosophy and a tap on the forehead to reawaken white Visions memories. Seemingly solving Wanda’s problem, the new Vision could exist outside the Hex, replacing the Hex Vision so they could live happily ever after. Inexplicably, however, this was then promptly forgotten and the new Vision just vanished so that Wanda and the Hex Vision could have a dramatic farewell. 

Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany, Credit: IMDb

While this final scene was very emotionally powerful, and Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany did do an incredible job at portraying it, it was undermined by the fact the audience was aware of another (alive) Vision waiting just around the corner (I imagine there will be a dramatic reunion in a later movie, sigh).

Another confusing element was that the loss of her children was weirdly underplayed, throughout the finale she fought Agatha to protect them, yet when the Hex was collapsing there seemed to be no realisation that her children weren’t real and that they were going to vanish along with Vision, something you think would be totally heartbreaking. But, in classic Marvel fashion, in the post-post credit scene Wanda hearing their voices all but confirms their return in a later movie, undermining any sacrifice or emotional beat made at the end of the show.

The finale left too many loose ends, forcing the audience to watch an unrelated film for a satisfying conclusion

The finale left too many loose ends, WandaVision had to fit within the wider cinematic universe but forcing the audience to watch a totally unrelated movie, likely Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, for a satisfying conclusion is absurd, and something no other franchise would be able to get away with. 

Elizabeth Olson as The Scarlet Witch, Credit: IMDb

A few wrong decisions led this series down a disappointing path, but that’s not to say I disliked the show at all. WandaVision exudes charm and has captured my heart over its 9-week run time. Spacing out the episode like a classic TV show was a risky move on Marvel's part, but it transformed WandaVision from another binge-watch into a cultural moment, the build-up for each episode was excruciating but entirely worth it. Moreover, the success of WandaVision will send a message to Marvel, Disney+ has given them the opportunity to branch out and create new and exciting cinematic experiences. The cookie-cutter superhero movies will likely continue to make great box-office success, but now they know there is a massive audience for unconventional story-telling, and Disney+ is the perfect vessel for that.

Many more interesting secondary Marvel characters could use the same treatment as Wanda and Vision

WandaVision turned two cogs in the MCU machine into real, loveable, and interesting characters. Wanda as a character, in particular, was crying out for analysis and investigation and WandaVision successfully opened that door into a tragic yet rich and vibrant character that had long been lost amongst the crowd. Many more interesting secondary Marvel characters could use the same treatment but we will have to wait and see whether The Falcon and The Winter Soldier can replicate WandaVision's success.

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