WandaVision-Episode 1 & 2 Review

WandaVision is the first television show from Marvel Studios and kicks off Phase 4 in a delightful homage with a sinister slow burn underneath it.

WandaVision has arrived on Disney+ and its arrival is a big deal for Disney+. It is the first installment in Marvel Phase 4 which in turn makes it the first entry into the MCU since Spider-Man: Far From Home dropped 16 months ago. It is the first television series created by Marvel Studios that will tie directly to the films (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Netflix series were Marvel Entertainment) and is the first major television debut for Disney+ since The Mandalorian back in November 2019. Yes, Disney+ has had original programming like The Right Stuff, Diary of a Future President, and High School Musical: The Musical, but those weren’t seen as the big event series the way a Star Wars or Marvel product are.

While it was never originally intended to be the start of the MCU, WandaVision unintentionally is the cleverest way to start the next era following the Infinity Saga. Marvel Studios essentially went as big as they could go, so the idea now is that they are so big they can afford to go weird and experiment. Here in WandaVision, Marvel Studios has gone meta, making the first Marvel Cinematic Universe series be love letters to the television shows that came before it, with the progression of time in the series being a meta-commentary of television history itself. Showing how we got from I Love Lucy to WandaVision is both the plot of the series and also the overriding creative thesis.

The first two episodes show Marvel’s commitment to capturing a certain tone and spirit. The first episode is a homage to 1950’s situational newlywed comedies like I Love Lucy and The Dick Van Dyke Show, featuring a mix-up where Wanda and Vision can’t seem to remember why a certain date is marked on the calendar. The second episode is a homage to the wacky adventures of series like Bewitched. Each episode commits to the format and sees Wanda and Vision competing in a town talent show, while Vision begins to malfunction because he swallowed a piece of gum and it ‘gums up the works.’ Both episodes capture the spirit of the series from which they are drawing inspiration, down to the type of jokes they go for and how it is shown in 4:3 aspect ratio and in black and white. The first episode is shot almost entirely in a multi-camera set up, apart from one moment, which is the series’ first hint at something being out of place. The second episode is when they start to get a little more experimental with the camera, as something appears to creep through.

The first two episodes are real triumphant, with great jokes and physical comedy throughout. Unlike a lot of other material that uses the 1950’s sitcom setting to hint at something underneath immediately, WandaVision captures the warm comfort these shows had and the fun quality that made them so enduring for generations on syndication. It is still playing with the sinister undertones, but each episode still perfectly captures the homage part where they feel like these characters would fit right at home in the time periods they are drawing from. They are less mocking the series, and showing why they are comfortable…and that comfort is going to be what the overall battle is over. Because while it is comforting and enjoyable, it isn’t real. None of these shows were, and they were never meant to be the real thing. The comfort they give you is nice and you want to stay in it. But that means avoiding the conflicts of the real world that can’t always be resolved so quickly. Wanda has retreated from reality to a world that is cozier. She has chosen comfortable bliss over reality, and it appears reality is knocking at the door.

What makes this material so strong is the strength of the two leads. Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany have such magnetic chemistry one would really want to watch a long-running sitcom with them for real. Olsen feels right at home in the 1950’s setting. As the lead of the show she is juggling a lot, not just the comedic slapstick but also the quieter subtler moments where she has to be scared and also horrified at realizations that the world she is processing may not be quiet right. This is no easy task but she performs it so effortlessly. Bettany is often known as a dramatic film actor, but he fits into comedy quite well. He plays an uptight straight man so well but his ‘drunken’ Vision sequence is hysterical and makes you sort of frustrated other projects haven’t thought to utilize him in a comedic way, because we’ve been missing out. The rest of the cast fits their roles well, with the biggest one so far being Kathyrn Hann as the neighbor Agnes. At the moment she appears to be used for more comedic effect but there is something a little off with her that will have fans and viewers speculating for a while.

The only issue that arises is the structure of the show and the pattern in which they’ve chosen to release it. The first two episodes are solid standalone episodes, but they do more to set up the tone of the series than advance the overall plot. The hints of what exactly is going on appear to be in the margins subtly breaking through, but for some viewers may be too much of a slow burn. The commitment to old fashion sitcoms set-ups may not entirely be captivating initially to an audience too young to remember the series WandaVision is referencing. This might be a show that benefits more from streaming all at once as opposed to the week to week release strategy. Yet the very fact that so many subtle hints were dropped in these two episodes is certainly enough to speculate and discuss until next week, and hopefully, that mystery maintains enough.

Marvel Studios made a commitment with WandaVision to break from the formula of what is not only expected from a Marvel Studios product, but also traditional superhero storytelling as mainstream audiences are used to. Marvel has decided to experiment, and so far it’s paying off through a funny, but also an incredibly clever and well-crafted piece of entertainment and a bold brave new way to kickstart both the next phase of the MCU and also a new era of Marvel television series.


  • The two commercials seem to be hinting at Wanda’s past. The Stark toaster that was blinking for an uncomfortable amount of time draws to mind the Stark missile that crashed through Wanda and Quicksilver’s apartment that never went off. The watch ad is Strucker brand and features a HYDRA logo, a callback to Baron Von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann), the HYDRA leader who was in charge of the experimentation that unlocked Wanda’s power. The advertisements also feature the same two performers. Could these be Wanda’s parents?’
  • S.W.O.R.D. was first hinted at the end of Spider-Man: Far From Home and they appear to be the ones monitoring what is happening to Wanda. The logo appears at the end of the first episode with a mysterious figure writing in a journal. In the second episode, the logo appears again on the toy helicopter Wanda picks up and the beekeeper’s suit emerging from the sewers.
  • Speaking of Bee Keeper, this could be one of two things. The original design for AIM scientists often was jokingly compared to Bee Keepers (AIM was last seen in Iron Man 3). There is also the Marvel villain named Swarm, who is just an individual made up of bees that psychically link to make a personality (yes this is real). While Swarm is typically a Spider-Man villain he is also known to be a former Nazi scientist. While it is unclear if he is technically part of the Sony/Spider-Man rights package meaning Marvel would have had to get approval from Sony, he is the only bee themed villain we can think of from Marvel.
  • Agnes makes a comment about the devil being in many places. While a funny joke, this line could be a hint that the Marvel Universe version of the devil aka Mephisto could be somehow behind all of this. Mephisto is commonly associated with Ghost Rider but in the comics is also partially responsible for helping Wanda create her kids in the comics. He might be doing the same thing here.

Let us know what you thought of the first two episodes of WandaVision. Did you like them? Any big theories on what is going on? What sitcom do you hope they reference next?