- The Magazine
Unless your name’s Ben Parker or Martha Wayne, death is rarely final in comic books or successful film franchises. Case in point: half of all life in the universe died with one snap in Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War, only to be restored five years post-Snappening in Avengers: Endgame. Among the formerly dead, the energy-manipulating Avenger known as Scarlet Witch — actual name Wanda Maximoff — was left to mourn both her departed brother Pietro, who’s been dead-dead since Avengers: Age of Ultron, and her one true love and fellow Avenger, Vision.
Poor Vision had the dubious honor of dying twice in Avengers: Infinity War, once by Wanda’s hand. So it’s anyone’s guess what the late synthetic mandroid is doing alive and residing in a black-and-white, ’50s TV sitcom version of the suburbs with wife Wanda in their new Disney+ series WandaVision (★★☆☆☆).
Vision and Wanda aren’t sure themselves how or why they came to settle down in the white picket fence community of Westview. Yet, considering it best to downplay their extraordinary abilities and just blend in, they commit to their roles as bumbling, straitlaced hubby and dutiful, wisecracking housewife. Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany, reprising their roles from the MCU films, commit just as fully to the arch sitcom scenario, with varying degrees of success. Her tart Samantha from Bewitched is sharper, funnier, and more nuanced than his stiff, English-accented Darren.
Actually, despite shooting in front of a live studio audience, whose titters and guffaws are sweetened by a laugh track, series creator Jac Schaeffer and director Matt Shakman (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) don’t seem interested in generating laughs as much as intrigue. Episode one guest stars Fred Melamed and That ’70s Show pro Debra Jo Rupp, as Vision’s boss Mr. Hart and his wife, add peppy comedy to a silly situation, but generally scenes creep along rather than bounce, vaguely propelled by some secret the show’s not telling us.
Kathryn Hahn, as nosy neighbor Agnes, delivers punchlines with a perfectly clipped, mid-century patter, and an edge of innuendo that implies Agnes knows something. Of course, she’s not telling, either. WandaVision offers only the slightest peeks behind its magic curtain. Whatever has stuck these contemporary superheroes in the sitcom past, the first three episodes of this nine-episode season won’t reveal.
Instead, Wanda spies one Iron Man-tinted hint that there’s more to their monochrome suburban existence than meets the eye, while other clues pop up sporadically. The same two actors appear in all the in-show commercials, which happen to be advertising products, from wristwatches to soap, made by a villainous outfit familiar to Avengers fans. That’s the biggest hint as to why two of the MCU’s most powerful heroes might be trapped playing Ozzie & Harriet. But how many mundane trips to Westview will it take to find out for sure?
WandaVision releases weekly on Disney+. The first two episodes are available to stream now. Visit www.disneyplus.com.
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