The series is great if you know your MCU history
By Craig Allan, Business Manager
Saying that this is funny or entertaining because it parodies sitcom tropes of yesteryear really just feels like an excuse to write off bad writing.
After years of remaining behind the times in streaming, I finally bought a streaming service. I bought Disney+ because they had an annual rate, unlike Netflix (which I preferred because I am not a fan of monthly rates). I also bought Disney+ because I wanted to get on the hype of their upcoming universe of expanded content. Since Disney pretty much owns every company, they have a lot of shows that are continuing stories that the movies have left off.
One of those shows is WandaVision, a show centred on two characters Wanda Maximoff and Vision, from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The show has an interesting premise; these two characters—one a witch and the other and artificial intelligence computer man—living life in the decade hopping scenarios of classic TV shows like The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Brady Bunch.
The show is four episodes in, and I must admit I was rather disappointed with the first two episodes, and really let down by the third. Part of the show’s “charm” is that it comes off like a bad sitcom from the past. For example, in the first episode when Wanda and Vision forget what a date on the calendar means only to realize later that it’s a reminder that Vision’s boss is coming over for dinner. This leads to wacky hijinks like Wanda showing up in a nighty thinking that it was their wedding anniversary and Wanda accidentally throwing lobsters out the window. However, saying that this is funny or entertaining because it parodies sitcom tropes of yesteryear really just feels like an excuse to write off bad writing.
The third episode is tough to get through because it involves Wanda being pregnant and going through nine months of baby growth in just a few days. It’s supposed to be a Brady Bunch style episode, but it doesn’t look anything like The Brady Bunch as it is just them and no other children. She later births twins and maybe this is a reference to something that happened on that show, but I have no idea because I have never watched The Brady Bunch.
That in a way is a running theme of content like WandaVision and their Star Wars television equivalent show The Mandalorian. They contain a lot of in-jokes and references that you won’t get unless you have gobbled up every single bit of media in regard to the property. This can be seen in the fourth episode of the show.
The fourth episode is much more interesting than the previous three, mostly because it abandons the sitcom trudge (at least temporarily) and enters the mystery of why Wanda and Vision are in this tubular predicament. This episode has so many references to the MCU that you have to pause every few minutes just to look up a fact. It made me feel like I was taking an open-book test, which is not fun because I take enough of those already.
For example, this episode contained the return of three minor characters from MCU films, but they are so minor that if you didn’t know who these characters were this episode was probably a little boring. One of the characters named Jimmy Woo, played by Randall Park, I only realized halfway through the episode that he was from Ant-Man and the Wasp, but I had completely forgotten him because he had such a small role in one of the lesser MCU movies (in my opinion).
Maybe the creators of the show and the MCU know that their characters are niche, and they are fine with it since they are the biggest movie franchise in history and have a large and loyal fanbase. It also helps that this show is only a mini-series therefore the crossovers and mysteries will not go on for years. But, if they want the show, the MCU, and Disney+ to be something for everyone can flock to, they have to make more original shows that don’t require over 20 films of homework in order to really understand.
I’d like to see more original stories and original ideas from Disney+, but if this is the direction they want to go, then that’s fine. I paid for a year anyway, so I might as well get my fill.