By Ariel Steinsaltz
Marvel Studios wrapped up what might be its most ambitious project yet on Friday, Mar. 5: WandaVision, their first television series and the beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Four.
The project promised to be bizarre from the start — featuring an extremely powerful witch, a dead robot, and homages to different eras of sitcoms — and this initially turned some people off. But over its run, the series proved itself to be an excellent turn in a new direction for Marvel, and a show that at times perfectly captured comedy, drama, tragedy and intrigue.
The show began with two episodes featuring Wanda and Vision living 1950s and 1960s sitcom lives, and took them through the decades, also featuring glimpses of what was happening in the world outside of the sitcoms. It built slowly over the course of its nine episodes, leading to wild fan speculation. Would beings come from another dimension, perhaps Magneto and the X-Men? Would Mephisto turn out to be pulling all the strings? Or Agatha Harkness? Might Ultron somehow return, perhaps in the body of Vision? Would Dr. Strange show up to fix everything, tying into his upcoming movie?
Ultimately, the finale might not have lived up to all of the hype around it; it didn’t quite deliver on all the mind-blowing twists many fans were sure were coming. But it did wrap up the incredible story the show had always been telling: a story about Wanda learning to come to terms with her grief and with her immense power as the Scarlet Witch.
The finale perhaps bit off a bit more than it could chew, and had to rush the endings to a few of the more extraneous story lines the show had set up, which made it a little confusing on first viewing. But the emotional core of the show remained, and the final scenes gave fans who were following Wanda’s journey the best they could have asked for.
The finale was also full of many delightful moments for a number of characters, even if it didn’t have the time to give every character on the show a proper ending. Luckily, since this show is part of a connected universe, it is likely that many of these characters will appear again, and no doubt greatly changed by their time on the show.
When I started watching the show, Wanda Maximoff was a character I was only semi-interested in, and I really didn’t care about Vision at all. The series has left me with a new appreciation for both characters and excitement for Wanda’s upcoming appearance in Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, as well as any future MCU appearances.
It made the wise choice to focus less on the classic heroic actions sequences and more on characters’ emotional journeys, and the actors delivered. The highlight of the show’s emotional arc came in Episode eight, which features flashbacks to Wanda’s journey before the show. Between the perfectly delivered emotional performances, the excellent comedic acting, and the moments of Wanda using her powers, Elizabeth Olsen has proved herself as an incredible actress, and I would be disappointed if she didn’t receive an Emmy nomination for her work on the show.
The other actors, including Paul Bettany, Kathryn Hahn, and Teyonah Parris, all delivered excellent performances as well, which helped elevate the show to the exceptional quality it delivered. All the sitcom performances were delightful and mimicked the styles of their respective shows, which included the Dick Van Dyke show, Bewitched, The Brady Bunch, Growing Pains, Malcolm in the Middle, and Modern Family, as well as references to many other classic sitcoms over the years.
Though the sitcom style might have seemed like a gimmick, it ends up tying into Wanda’s story in a surprisingly emotionally resonant way.
I didn’t expect the show to be as good as it was, but it’s become not just one of my favorite Marvel properties but one of my favorite television shows. Though the finale was a little overstuffed and would definitely benefit from a second viewing, it still featured a number of moments that exemplified why the show was so good. And the two mid and end credit scenes that followed promise much to look forward to in the MCU going forward.