Here is our review of WandaVision, the first new Marvel show to arrive on Disney+.
Fair play to Marvel and Disney for this, because WandaVision doesn't hold back on the weirdness. It is likely there will be entire generations of MCU fans who have no idea why two of the Avengers are acting so weird, or why there is a laugh-track, or why they're in black and white. Potentially millions of fans who simply will not get the references to Dick Van Dyke, Bewitched (the sit-com, not the Irish girl group), or The Brady Bunch. To put it simply, WandaVision is a big swing, and while we've no idea where it will land - reviewers have been given access to the first three of the series' nine episodes - it has definitely got our attention.
If you've been keeping up to date with the MCU, then you'll already know that the events of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame resulted in the death of Vision (Paul Bettany) at the hands of Thanos, and Wanda (Elisabeth Olsen) surviving the ultimate battle. So we've no idea how they got from there to here, wherever - and whenever - here is.
Kicking off in an I Love Lucy-esque era, Wanda and Vision jump forward a decade or so per episode (so far), with each episode dealing with a classic sit-com trope - impressing the new boss, putting on a neighbourhood talent show, etc. - but wrapped up in an inherent weirdness that the lead characters don't seem to be asking too many questions about, and from those first three episodes, the show is in no rush to answer.
Truth be told, the first two episodes bring some mild frustration, because they are so intent on selling that classic sit-com format, we get only the tiniest hints towards something bigger and something sinister going on. It isn't until the third episode that enough of the fourth wall drops that you feel the plot properly going somewhere, and by then the story has properly got its hooks in.
What will keep you invested from the start is the fact that the episodes are brief, barely hitting the 30 minute mark, so not around long enough for those early frustrations to ferment. Plus we get to see Wanda and Vision's relationship in the spotlight, something that Olsen and Bettany sell spectacularly well, the romance and passion between them finally getting the screen-time it deserves. It isn't unfair to say that this is now the best realised romantic relationship in the larger MCU to date (sorry Tony and Pepper stans), with a special shout-out to Olsen who manages to both perfectly embody and appear restricted by the representations of women in TV through the decades.
The central duo are brilliantly aided by Katherine Hahn's always upbeat nosy neighbour Agnes, as well as Teyonah Parris as the grown-up version of Monica Rambeau, who we first met as a child in Captain Marvel. It isn't entirely clear the direction these two characters are heading in for the overall story of the show, but they each drop enough narrative breadcrumbs to make sure we'll be keeping a close eye on them both over the coming weeks and months.
What we've got here is a proper mystery, one that doesn't have answers immediately obvious and available in pre-existing comic books or lore. Marvel stories have always kind of felt like using plot from getting Action Sequence A to Action Sequence B, but these first three episodes are completely action free, instead spending time with the characters, the setting, and letting them all that marinate in that mystery.
Of course, as with all great TV mysteries - think of Lost, or The X-Files - the set-up can be as amazing as you want it to be, but if the payoff doesn't, well, pay off, then that is all anyone will remember. So while we're absolutely all in on seeing how this is all going to pan out, the pressure is on for WandaVision not to disappoint.
The first two episodes of WandaVision arrives on Disney+ on Friday, January 15, with the rest of the show released weekly after that.