Spoiler-Free Round-Up Of First WandaVision Episodes On Disney+
There’s a scene in LOST, where two characters watch a videotape they found hidden on the series’ mysterious island. After watching it, one character asks the other “Would you like to watch that again?” This is how it feels to watch the first episodes of WandaVision on Disney+. As soon as I finished watching them, I ate a little lunch, and then immediately sat down for a second viewing. If you’ve not yet seen the first episodes of WandaVision on Disney+, don’t worry. I am not going to talk about spoilers. We’ll have a full review dealing with that up tomorrow. No, today, we’re simply going to talk about whether or not this show is worth watching, especially after 18 months of nothing from Marvel Studios.
Firstly, seeing the opening sequence for Marvel Studios was a welcome sight. Eagle-eyed viewers will notice that they’ve added scenes from Avengers: Endgame into it. Those images and the familiar theme reminded me how seeing them before seeing something new is truly exhilarating. We’re in a golden age of comic book adaptations, and it’s been too long since we checked in on our Marvel pals.
Secondly, the first thing I noticed about the premiere was that the storytellers are definitely leaning into the television parody of it all. I admit, it took me far too long to equate the name “WandaVision” with the word “television.” But despite some weirdness, this series seems very committed to honoring and capturing the style of the different eras of situation comedies that inspire the series. Outside of a couple utterances of the word “damn,” this is a show that could have aired on television back in the late 1950s or early 1960s.
Dick Van Dyke Meets Bewitched With Some I Love Lucy Thrown In
Image via Disney+
Each of the first episodes of WandaVision have unique intro sequences. Well, they’re not unique precisely. They are different, and each one evokes a different series that aired back in the days of black-and-white TV. There’s some One Happy Family and Room for One More in there, as well as some The Dick Van Dyke Show. (Including a Vision-inspired take on tripping over the ottoman.) The second episode opening evokes a number of series that had cartoon openings, but mostly Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, both shows about fellas living with magical gals. (The second one also has a number of “blink and you’ll miss them” Easter Eggs to Marvel Comics’ characters!)
However, the attention to detail in the first WandaVision episodes doesn’t stop there. The look of the show, its effects, aspect ratio, and even the jokes are all very much in keeping with the time. Now, I was raised on a steady diet of old-school sitcoms. (In case you couldn’t tell by the One Happy Family, et al. references above.) So, there was a small amount of nostalgia at play. But I found that many of the gags worked. Even though the specifics are different, the scenarios the characters encounter feel ripped from those old programs.
Lastly, the performances are all very much on point. Paul Bettany especially shines as playing the Vision we know from the MCU but also an addled sitcom-dad. Kathryn Hahn’s Agnes also feels like a character teleported from the past to the set of this modern-day TV series. In fact, I would suspect that even if you have very little idea who Wanda or Vision are, someone who is a fan of these eras of sitcoms would enjoy this show.
The First WandaVision Episodes On Disney+ Are Weird As Hell
Image via Disney+
Already it’s a little weird to see two second-generation Avengers on a sitcom parody. However, there are plenty of good old-fashioned comic book weird things in it, too. This also feels like the sort of series where everything is a “clue” of some sort. There are repeated visual patterns and shapes in the background. References to known figures in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are made obliquely and in the context of the “TV show” schtick. Once we get some more episodes of WandaVision and the lager story begins to take shape, we can likely watch these first ones again to notice hints and foreshadowing.
Because as admirable as their commitment is to the bit, WandaVision does veer into strange (almost scary) territory a number of times. The vast majority of the story feels like an episode of a long-lost sitcom from the 1950s. Yet, there are moments where they deliberately snap you out of it, encouraging the audience to ask questions. In fact, if any spoiler-hounds and amateur trailer detectives are still reading this far, there is plenty to now put into context about what we’re going to see going forward.
Still, even without knowing the larger story or the direction they are taking it, WandaVision feels eminently rewatchable. In fact, once this review is submitted, I may just go in for a third viewing.
WandaVision debuts new episodes every Friday on Disney+.
What did you think of the premiere of WandaVision? Let us know your (spoiler-free) thoughts in the comments below!
Featured image via Disney+
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.