By Ruth Sellin, MA Gender Studies and Law
On 15 January 2021, Marvel Studios released WandaVision on Disney+, kicking off a new phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is the first in a series of highly anticipated new shows revolving around fan-favourite characters from the MCU. The premise of the show is that the two eponymous heroes, Wanda Maximoff and The Vision, find themselves living an idyllic suburban life in the town of Westview, New Jersey, when life suddenly starts unravelling around them.
Fans were introduced to the characters in Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015, however, after the events of Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019), they were not expecting to see much more from the couple. Subsequently, there was some surprise when Marvel Studios announced that one of their new shows would revolve around the pair.
Not much was known of the plot of this series before it’s release, leading to an influx of increasingly elaborate theories from viewers after the release of each episode. Fans have also been delighted by the many easter eggs and references to the original comics, something the MCU has been known to take very seriously, often hiding their easter eggs so well only the closest observer can spot them.
Stylistically, WandaVision employs tropes from classic television sitcoms, such as The Dick Van Dyke Show and I Love Lucy, as each episode reflects a different decade of television. This gives the cast ample opportunity to display the full range of their acting capabilities, switching flawlessly from the 1950s into the modern era, and has helped earn high praise for Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany for their outstanding performances of the titular characters. The relationship between the characters is beautifully portrayed, the strong chemistry between the two actors making their romance impossible not to believe.
Jumping between past and present decades every episode inevitably means that the costumes for each character have to be updated quite regularly. WandaVision’s costume designer, Mayes C. Rubeo, rose fantastically well to the challenge of designing a look for each character that stays true to them across the different time periods of the show. The theme song is also updated each episode, a task undertaken by the composer-lyricist team behind the music of the Frozen franchise, Robert Lopez and Kristin Anderson-Lopez. Each theme song is reminiscent of the genre it is representing and, together with the opening credits, convincingly sets the scene for each episode.
Each part of WandaVision works together to create an intelligent show that draws on the very best parts of popular sitcoms from past decades for inspiration. With the perfect balance of humour and heartbreak, fans are already looking forward to the next installment of the franchise. The bar is set very high.
Photo caption: WandaVision poster (Credit: Disney+)