Feb 12, 2021 | LIFE | By Lucy DeLuca | Illustration by Patil Khakhamian
It’s late on a Friday evening and you find yourself searching for something to watch, preferably something to help you escape the realities of COVID-19’s second year in the spotlight. When searching for this escape, the Avengers Universe may seem like the perfect blend of real and unreal. However, those turning to the Disney Plus show “WandaVision” in hopes of an action-packed adventure with clear dramatic goals for the characters may be disappointed.
Although the show makes wonderful use of special effects, there is no action fighting in sight: the threat facing Wanda and Vision is quite unclear. Simply put, “WandaVision”is strange. While it may not have talking raccoons or adolescent trees like “Guardians of the Galaxy,” the show’s overall aesthetic and style, which begins as something straight out of the 1950s, is delightfully odd and vastly different from anything previously seen in the Marvel Universe.
“WandaVision”takes place following the events of “Avengers: Endgame” and sees Wanda and Vision living together in marital bliss. The catch? The formally deceased Vision appears to be very much alive as he stars alongside Wanda in a comedy reminiscent of classic American sitcoms through the decades. Shot in black and white with a 4:3 aspect ratio, complete with a laugh track playing whether or not an action was funny, the pilot episode explores what it would be like for a superhuman couple to live in suburbia during the 1950s and 60s “I Love Lucy”era.
While the idea itself — simply placing Avengers in a postmodern take on the classic American sitcom — may be interesting to some, it is a far cry from the typically action-packed, high-stakes world of the “Avengers” franchise.
However, there is hope for those looking for a dramatic plot, as something in the idealistic suburban paradise of Westview seems to be wrong. Subtle hints such as strange jump cuts and single pieces of an image appearing in color help audience slowly sense that “WandaVision” is not as simple as it may appear.
Adding to the confusion, the show begins to jump through time. What begins as a typical 50s black and white sitcom slowly morphs into the technicolor world of “The Brady Bunch” before finally landing in the “Full House”-esque 1980s style of last week’s episode. With no end to the time jumps in sight, which TV show will be spoofed next, the audience wonders? Perhaps a trip to the “Friends”era of the 90s complete with a coffee shop and Wanda and Vision dancing in a fountain?
Beyond the enticing old school comedy format, the audience can’t help wondering: What is the purpose of this show within a show, and more importantly, who is in control? As the plot unfolds it becomes increasingly clear that the show is about more than simply reinventing the American sitcom. Questions about inclusivity in television through the decades and about how grief manifests itself begin to form just in time as the audience begins to ask these questions themselves following the devastating events of 2020.
While “WandaVision” is anything but a typical Marvel production, it is this difference that makes it all the more intriguing and allows it to explore much more than world-destroying aliens and the superheroes who fight them. With four more episodes left in the season, the show’s main purpose remains a mystery. However, its ability to make the audience feel simultaneously delighted and confused is undeniably clear. I, for one, can’t stop watching.
New episodes of “WandaVision” air every Friday on Disney Plus.