WandaVision

WandaVision
WandaVision logo.png
Genre
Created byJac Schaeffer
Based on
Directed byMatt Shakman
Starring
Theme music composer
ComposerChristophe Beck
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes2 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
  • Kevin Feige
  • Louis D'Esposito
  • Victoria Alonso
  • Matt Shakman
  • Jac Schaeffer
ProducerChuck Hayward
Production locations
CinematographyJess Hall
Running time29–36 minutes
Production companyMarvel Studios
DistributorDisney Platform Distribution
Release
Original networkDisney+
Original releaseJanuary 15, 2021 (2021-01-15) –
present (present)
Chronology
Related showsMarvel Cinematic Universe television series
External links
Production website

WandaVision is an American television miniseries created by Jac Schaeffer for the streaming service Disney+, based on the Marvel Comics characters Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch and Vision. Set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), it shares continuity with the films of the franchise, and takes place after the events of the film Avengers: Endgame (2019). WandaVision was produced by Marvel Studios, with Schaeffer serving as head writer and Matt Shakman directing.

Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany reprise their respective roles as Wanda Maximoff and Vision from the film series, while Debra Jo Rupp, Fred Melamed, Kathryn Hahn, Teyonah Parris, Kat Dennings, and Randall Park also star. By September 2018, Marvel Studios was developing a number of limited series for Disney+, centered on supporting characters from the MCU films such as Wanda and Vision, with Olsen and Bettany returning. Schaeffer was hired in January 2019, the series was officially announced that April, and Shakman joined in August. The series is presented as an homage to past sitcoms, with Wanda and Vision living in a reality that takes them through different decades of television tropes. Filming began in Atlanta, Georgia in November 2019, before production halted in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Production resumed in Los Angeles in September 2020 and completed that November.

WandaVision premiered with its first two episodes on January 15, 2021, and will run for nine episodes until March 5. It is the first series in Phase Four of the MCU. The series was praised by critics for its homages to past sitcoms and the performances of Olsen and Bettany.

Premise

After the events of Avengers: Endgame (2019), Wanda Maximoff and Vision are living the ideal suburban life in the town of Westview, trying to conceal their powers. As they begin to enter new decades and encounter television tropes, the couple suspects that things are not as they seem.[1]

Cast and characters

Jolene Purdy has a recurring role as Beverly, Wanda and Vision's neighbor.[18][19] Other residents of Westview include Asif Ali as Vision's co-worker Norm;[19] David Lengel as Phil Jones;[19] Emma Caulfield Ford as Dottie Jones, a "skeptical mom who rules the neighborhood with an iron fist and poison smile";[20][21] Amos Glick as Dennis the Mailman; and David Payton as Herb. Ithamar Enriquez and Victoria Blade appear as the man and woman in the fake commercials.[19]

Episodes

No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
1"Episode 1"Matt ShakmanJac SchaefferJanuary 15, 2021 (2021-01-15)

Newlywed couple Wanda and Vision move into the town of Westview during what appears to be the 1950s. They attempt to blend in, despite Vision being an android and Wanda having telekinetic abilities. One day they notice a heart drawn on a calendar but neither can remember what the occasion is. While Vision goes to his job at Computational Services Inc., Wanda decides that the heart represents their anniversary. Their neighbor Agnes introduces herself to Wanda and helps her prepare for the anniversary. At work, Vision amazes his co-workers with his speed but is unsure what his company actually does. His boss, Mr. Hart, reminds him that Wanda and Vision are hosting Mr. Hart and his wife for dinner that night, which is what the heart on the calendar represents. That night, Wanda and Vision struggle to hide their abilities while making a last-minute dinner for the Harts. During the meal, Mr. Hart chokes on his food, and Vision has to use his abilities to save him. All of these events have taken place on the fictional sitcom WandaVision and are being watched by someone on a television screen.


A commercial during the WandaVision program advertises a Stark Industries ToastMate 2000 toaster oven.
2"Episode 2"Matt ShakmanGretchen EndersJanuary 15, 2021 (2021-01-15)

During what appears to be the 1960s, Wanda and Vision begin to hear strange noises outside their house. The next day, they prepare their magician act for a neighborhood talent show. Wanda and Agnes then spend the day with Dottie and a group of women from the neighborhood while Vision attends a neighborhood watch meeting uninvited. Wanda befriends another neighbor, Geraldine, and begins to notice other strange things, such as a voice on the radio that seems to be speaking to her. Vision becomes friendly with the local men at the neighborhood watch meeting, and they give him some Big Red gum. When Vision arrives at the talent show, he appears to be intoxicated and reveals his abilities to the neighborhood. Wanda uses her own abilities to make Vision look like he is doing simple magic tricks. Afterward, Wanda removes the gum from Vision's gears. Their performance is well received, and they return home happy, wherein they discover that Wanda is now pregnant. Suddenly, they see a strange beekeeper emerging from a manhole on their street. Wanda panics, and their reality resets to before the figure appeared. The setting then changes to the 1970s as everything becomes colorful, and a voice asks Wanda who is controlling her.


A commercial during the WandaVision program advertises Strücker watches.

Production

Development

By September 2018, Marvel Studios was developing several limited series for its parent company Disney's streaming service, Disney+, to be centered on supporting characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films who had not starred in their own films, such as Wanda Maximoff. Actors who portrayed the characters in the films were expected to reprise their roles for the limited series, including Elizabeth Olsen as Maximoff. The series were expected to be six to eight episodes each, have a "hefty [budget] rivaling those of a major studio production", and be produced by Marvel Studios rather than Marvel Television, which produced previous MCU television series. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige was believed to be taking a "hands-on role" in each limited series' development,[22] focusing on "continuity of story" with the films and "handling" the actors who would be reprising their roles from the films.[23] By the end of October, Paul Bettany's Vision was expected to play a significant role in the series, which would focus on the relationship between Maximoff and Vision.[24] In the following months, the titles Vision and the Scarlet Witch and The Vision and Scarlet Witch were both reported for the series.[25][26][27]

Jac Schaeffer was hired as head writer of the series in January 2019 after previously working as a writer on the Marvel Studios films Captain Marvel (2019) and Black Widow (2021).[26][28] Schaeffer was set to write the first episode and executive produce the series.[26] That April, Disney and Marvel officially announced the series as WandaVision.[2] Matt Shakman was hired to direct and serve as an executive producer in August,[29][30] with Feige also executive producing alongside Marvel Studios' Louis D'Esposito and Victoria Alonso.[31]:50[32]:20 Feige said the series would tell the story of Maximoff and Vision, show what Maximoff can do, explore who Vision is, and introduce the comic book name "Scarlet Witch" to the MCU "in ways that are entirely fun, entirely funny, somewhat scary, and will have repercussions for the entire future of Phase Four of the MCU".[33] He added that viewers would not need to be familiar with the MCU to understand the series, but there would be a "wealth of rewards" for those who have seen all the films and knew the plans for Phase Four.[1] The series consists of nine episodes,[34] presented in a half-hour comedy series format.[15] The first three episodes are around 30 minutes each while the remaining episode having more varied runtimes,[35] totaling approximately six hours of content.[36][37] The budget for each episode was reported to be as much as $25 million.[38]

Writing

Schaeffer received comics material and an outline of what Marvel Studios hoped to accomplish with the series, in order for her to help shape their ideas into a coherent structure.[8]:28 Feige came up with the idea of having Maximoff and Vision be in a "strange fantasy world of suburban bliss" based on his love of sitcoms and how they can be used to escape from reality;[1] Schaeffer helped figure out what that meant for the characters.[30] Feige was also visually inspired by the "Norman Rockwell meets Leave it to Beaver" covers of the comic book series The Vision by Tom King and Mike Del Mundo.[39][40] Feige, Schaeffer, Shakman, and co-executive producer Mary Livanos dedicated themselves to "nail[ing] down" the series' irreverent tone.[1] Schaeffer hired eight writers for the series' writers room, including four women and several people of color, because of her belief that "stories are better the more perspectives you have".[41] Megan McDonnell served as a staff writer on the series, before being promoted to story editor.[42] Many of the writers had previous television experience, which Schaeffer used to help craft each episode within the larger narrative,[8]:29 as one of the initial challenges for the series was figuring out how to tell the story in the long-form structure of a limited series rather than a film. Schaeffer compared the final approach to a multi-issue storyline in the comics, and felt WandaVision was "in the bizarre space of being a tentpole movie within a limited series construct".[8]:29 She said the final series remained very close to her original pitch to Marvel Studios.[8]:28

WandaVision has been described as part "classic sitcom", part "Marvel epic" by Feige,[29] "super avant-garde and weird" by Bettany,[43] a "full-on action movie" mixed with sitcoms by fellow actor Teyonah Parris,[44] and a series that is "marrying epic superhero action with small-town sitcom silliness" by Livanos.[1] Schaeffer and Shakman called it "a love letter to the golden age of television".[1][30] The series pays tribute to many eras and genres of American television throughout the years,[36] including modern documentary-style sitcoms like Modern Family and The Office.[6] The writers and Shakman focused on the family sitcom over other types such as workplace sitcoms because the family aspect kept the series "very centered".[45] Both Schaeffer and Shakman studied past sitcoms to learn their "trappings and styles",[1] while avoiding "disappointing" tropes from the older sitcoms that would not be "acceptable" in a modern series or society.[45] They and Feige spoke with Dick Van Dyke, the star of the eponymous 1960s sitcom, to learn how that series could "be very broad with silly physical-comedy gags, and yet it never feels false". Van Dyke told them that his show was guided by what could and could not happen in real life.[1][30] Other past sitcoms that inspired the series include I Love Lucy, My Three Sons, Father Knows Best, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Bewitched, Family Ties, Friends, 30 Rock, and Parks and Recreation.[31]:45[15] The series also has meta references to Full House, which starred Olsen's older sisters Mary-Kate and Ashley.[31]:45 Olsen said the sitcom setting is supported by the comic books,[43] and Feige told her that there were two specific comic series that he wanted to combine as inspirations for WandaVision.[30] The "House of M" comic book storyline was one of those inspirations,[39] while commentators noted with the release of the series' official trailer in September 2020 the series referenced The Vision and the Scarlet Witch by Bill Mantlo and Rick Leonardi,[46] and The Vision and the Scarlet Witch by Steve Englehart and Richard Howell, in which Scarlet Witch becomes pregnant by "magical means".[47] The series features fake commercials within the episodes that are "slightly nefarious",[45] including promotion for the organization Hydra.[9] Feige said the commercials were "part of the truths of the show beginning to leak out" and said for new MCU viewers the commercials would be "just a strange version of a '50s [or '60s] commercial" that would become clearer as the series progresses, while viewers well versed in the MCU films "might be able to start connecting what those things mean to the past".[9]

Schaeffer compared her work on the series to the film Black Widow, saying WandaVision would be "the polar opposite" to the film's style of aggressive, visceral action.[41] Shakman and Schaeffer watched all the existing footage of Maximoff and Vision, including footage that did not make it into the previous MCU films such as unused dailies.[48] While exploring this footage, Schaeffer was drawn to "the more mundane [character] moments" such as Maximoff and Vision enjoying their time in Scotland in Avengers: Infinity War (2018).[8]:29 Schaeffer knew there was "a sort of wonder and sincerity" to the two characters, and felt putting them in a sitcom setting would result in a "calm and warm" feeling, due to their familiar family dynamic, despite the ridiculousness of the premise.[31]:45 She found the pair appealing because they are both outsiders who "find each other. They're both different with capital Ds."[1] Livanos said the series has fun "mess[ing] with expectations" of past suburban family sitcoms, and would make the audience question where WandaVision fits into the MCU timeline. She added that Maximoff and Vision's romance helps ground the series, and said some of the episodes deviate from the family sitcom structure.[1][30] The series explores how Maximoff grew up in an Eastern European country and relied on black-market American products such as television.[30] It takes place after the events of Avengers: Endgame (2019),[13] and "directly set[s] up" the Phase Four film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022),[1] in which Olsen reprises her role as Maximoff.[49]

Casting

Olsen and Bettany at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con

With the official announcement of the series in April 2019 came confirmation that Olsen and Bettany would reprise their roles of Maximoff and Vision, respectively, in the series.[2] Bettany agreed to join the project after meeting with Feige and D'Esposito, who pitched an "exciting and bonkers" idea for his character's return in the series. Olsen was originally nervous with Marvel's move to television and how it could connect with the films, but was excited when she learned of Schaeffer's involvement as well as the comic book storylines that inspired the series.[30]

Teyonah Parris was revealed to have been cast in the role of Monica Rambeau in July 2019. Rambeau was introduced to the MCU as an eleven-year-old in Captain Marvel, which is set in 1995; Akira Akbar portrayed the character in that film.[13] A month later, at Disney's biennial convention D23, Kat Dennings and Randall Park were set to reprise their respective MCU film roles as Darcy Lewis and Jimmy Woo in the series,[16] with Kathryn Hahn also cast in the role of Agnes.[16][1] Dennings previously appeared in the films Thor (2011) and Thor: The Dark World (2013),[16] and felt her character's role in the series was "somewhat of a surprise" for fans,[50] while Park joined the series following a general meeting with Marvel to discuss Woo's future in the MCU following his introduction in Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018).[5] Schaeffer felt it was fun to feature Dennings and Park in the series since both were "veteran" sitcoms actors, previously starring in 2 Broke Girls and Fresh Off the Boat, respectively.[7]

The official trailer revealed that Fred Melamed and Debra Jo Rupp were portraying Maximoff and Vision's neighbors, the Harts.[10][46][11] Asif Ali was revealed to be cast in the series in October 2020,[51] as Vision's co-worker Norm,[19] as was Jolene Purdy in the recurring role of Beverly.[18][19] Ahead of the series' premiere, Emma Caulfield Ford revealed she would be appearing in the series,[52] portraying Dottie Jones.[20]

Design

Costume designer Mayes C. Rubeo said it was rare for a singular piece of media to progress through so many different decades without its characters aging.[32]:6 Olsen enjoyed exploring how women were viewed in society in each decade through Maximoff's costumes.[9] The suit and wedding dress worn by Vision and Maximoff in the opening titles were both made for the series, with the dress created as an homage to Audrey Hepburn. With the series shifting from black and white to color, the various designers worked together to ensure a unified look for the characters and sets. Production designer Mark Worthington said his team learned how different colors work in a black-and-white format.[32]:6–7 Prop designer Russell Bobbit previously worked on the film Pleasantville (1998), which Shakman said the series had a "spiritual connection" to along with The Truman Show (1998).[48]

Filming

Filming began in early November 2019,[53] at Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Atlanta, Georgia,[54] with Shakman directing,[29] and Jess Hall serving as cinematographer.[55][36] The series was filmed under the working title Big Red.[54] Filming was previously reported to begin on September 21 in Los Angeles, California.[56] Bettany felt the approach to the series was "very clever" given it had to make six hours of content on a budget similar to a two-and-a-half-hour MCU film. This included filming content from different episodes at the same time, which was possible since Shakman directed all of the episodes.[36] Shakman did try to shoot things chronologically to aid the actors with the progression through various sitcom eras.[8]:34 The actors were also shown episodes of past sitcoms before filming to help them "capture the spirit of each tone and style",[31]:50 since the approach to comedy is different in each decade.[9] Dialect coach Courtney Young helped the actors sound and move like people from each era,[48] with Olsen adding that the manners of each decade were noted.[9]

The first episode of the series filmed for two days in black and white, and had a live studio audience present, to mimic sitcom filming.[36][1] Olsen had previously indicated that there were discussions regarding whether the series would also use a laugh track.[5] For episodes with a laugh track that was not recorded live, the series worked with an expert to explain how laugh tracks changed throughout time, which helped inform the sound design.[48] When shooting scenes in black and white, Bettany was painted blue, rather than Vision's maroon color, since the blue appeared better in the grayscale image. Both Olsen and Bettany found the experience of the premiere to be surreal and unique.[1] A 4:3 aspect ratio is also used for the black and white scenes.[39] Shakman enjoyed being able to experiment with the aspect ratio, having it be directly related to the narrative.[48]

Other period-specific touches were done in each episode, such as period-appropriate camera lenses and lighting and live special effects.[1] Shakman wanted to ensure the sitcom elements never felt like a parody, but were as authentic as possible.[31]:50 Hall used 47 different camera lenses for the seven time periods covered in WandaVision, many of which were modern lenses custom modified to keep characteristics of the actual period lenses. As for lighting, tungsten lights were mainly used for the 1950s to the 1970s episodes, as those were the lights of the era, with LED lighting being used starting in the 2000s episodes, as Hall explained that was "the correct time line for when this equipment entered the filmmaking vocabulary".[32]:6 After the first two episodes mainly reference The Dick Van Dyke Show and Bewitched, respectively,[21] further episodes have multiple sitcom homages in them, such as the third referencing both Good Times and The Brady Bunch,[57][21] "alluding to how television's popularity grew throughout the years",[57] eventually emulating "the talk-to-the-camera, shaky-camera, documentary style" of some modern sitcoms.[6] During moments when something goes wrong with Maximoff's illusion, Shakman did "a lot of work with lenses and the lighting to change the mood, and to change the field". He added that these moments move the series "into a Twilight Zone territory" and that the sound design also played a key part in these moments.[58]

Location shooting took place in the Atlanta metropolitan area throughout December 2019 and February 2020.[59][60] A filming wrap party for the series occurred on March 1,[61] ahead of a planned four-week hiatus,[31]:50[62]:1:07 but all production halted on March 14 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[63] Filming resumed in Los Angeles in September 2020 with rigorous COVID-19 safety protocols in place,[31]:50 to complete the backlot and outside filming necessary for the series.[48][57] Olsen found it hard resuming production after being isolated during the shutdown, while Bettany disliked that the safety protocols meant the actors had to return to their trailers when not filming, which he felt removed much of the camaraderie between the cast and crew.[62]:1:29–2:23 Filming took place on Blondie Street at the Warner Bros. Ranch in Burbank, California, where past sitcoms had also been filmed. Shakman felt the Blondie Street backlot had "that weird sense of fakeness" that no real-life street could replicate.[1] Production on the series wrapped by mid-November,[64] with Olsen shooting back-to-back with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.[65]

Post-production

During the production shutdown, Shakman began editing what had already been filmed and was able to "polish it up" before filming resumed. This informed him of how to approach a few things in a different way,[8]:34 but the series was not creatively altered.[15] Tim Roche, Nona Khodai, and Zene Baker served as editors.[32]:20 In the first three episodes, film cuts and rewind effects were employed to go along with the practical effects shot. Visual effects supervisor Tara DeMarco said contemporary visual effects were used to remove wires and smooth the cuts, and occasionally to create wire gags that were not filmed practically.[32]:8 Post-production work on existing footage continued after filming resumed, and Shakman said working on every step of the process at once felt "schizophrenic".[8]:34 Bettany estimated that the series had more visual effects shots than the 2,496 in Avengers: Endgame.[66] Visual effects for WandaVision were created by Digital Domain, Framestore, Industrial Light & Magic, Lola VFX, Monsters Aliens Robots Zombies, RISE, Rodeo FX, SSVFX, The Yard VFX, and Zoic Studios.[67]

Music

In January 2020, Christophe Beck announced he would compose the score for the series, after previously scoring Ant-Man (2015) and Ant-Man and the Wasp.[68] Beck paid homage to the sitcoms in each time period through his instrumentation, compositional style, and period-specific recording and mixing techniques. Earlier episodes feature small orchestral ensembles, with later episodes having more of a rock-pop style, and the music becoming more "pervasive" as the series progresses. Beck looked for ways to connect his music across the different styles, such as composing one love theme for Maximoff and Vision.[32]:9 Michael Paraskevas and Alex Kovacs co-composed the series' music.[69]

In December 2020, Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez were announced to have written theme songs for some of the series' episodes. They were approached for the series by Shakman, who was friends with Lopez at college, and they had previously worked with Beck on the music for Disney's Frozen franchise.[70][71] In order to tie their themes together, Lopez and Anderson-Lopez created a four-note motif that worked in each of the theme song styles. Lopez described the motif as "kind of like the WandaVision call-out, easily identifiable in some way in each song". The theme for the first episode evokes the "dawn of television" and is about the love between Maximoff and Vision.[32]:9

Soundtracks for each episode, including Beck's score and the theme songs by Lopez and Anderson-Lopez, will be released digitally one week after each episode premieres.[69]

Marketing

At the 2019 D23, a teaser for the series was shown that combined footage of Maximoff and Vision from previous MCU films with images from old sitcom television series The Dick Van Dyke Show and Father Knows Best.[29][5] The series was promoted as part of Expanding the Universe, a Marvel Studios special that debuted on Disney+ on November 12, 2019.[28] In December, Feige debuted the first image from the series at Comic Con Experience. Vinnie Mancuso of Collider said it was "very interesting", highlighting the "old-school black and white" coloring.[72] A commercial for the series and fellow Marvel Studios Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki was shown during Super Bowl LIV.[73] Inverse's Dais Johnston found visual references to past sitcoms in the commercial, including The Dick Van Dyke Show, Leave It to Beaver, Bewitched, The Brady Bunch, Roseanne, and Full House. They thought the series would be a "must-see" for Marvel fans as well as "anyone looking for a hit of nostalgia: the era-spanning framework means anyone can relive the shows of their childhood".[74] Julia Alexander of The Verge said the footage "wasn't much" but offered "enough glimpses to tease fans".[75] Haleigh Foutch at Collider felt of all the Super Bowl commercials, Marvel's "stole the whole show". She was most excited by the "utterly strange and unpredictable looking" WandaVision footage.[76]

The series' official trailer was released on September 20, 2020, during the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards.[77] The trailer received 55.7 million online views within 24 hours, including 36.1 million on YouTube, 4.9 million on Facebook, and 10.1 million on Instagram, which was believed to be the highest number ever for a streaming service's television series trailer. WandaVision also had over 302,600 social mentions, trending on Twitter immediately after a teaser aired during the Emmy Awards ahead of the full trailer's release, and ultimately trending fourth on Twitter. The trailer was the number two trending video on YouTube.[78] Ethan Anderton from /Film said the footage in the trailer looked like "one of the most trippy Marvel projects to date". He also noted more lighthearted aspects of the trailer such as Vision wearing a Halloween costume of the character's comic book design.[79] Matt Patches at Polygon called the trailer "a hoot, full of bright colors and odd behavior", adding that it still left much of the series a mystery.[80] Comic Book Resources' Noah Dominguez said the trailer "offers quite a bit in terms of content" with "a vivid look at some of the visual tricks on display".[81] Charles Pulliam-Moore of io9 called the trailer's use of "Twilight Time" by The Platters "the most haunting" of all of its strange features, and felt the trailer's editing created "the effect of rapidly flipping through television channels in search of something good to watch".[46] The Hollywood Reporter's Richard Newby described the trailer as "jam-packed with information" and felt that it "gives fans quite a lot to look forward to, as well as some mysteries to ponder over leading up to the premiere".[47] After actors from past Spider-Man films were revealed to be appearing in the untitled Spider-Man: Far From Home sequel, Graeme McMillan of The Hollywood Reporter saw the series' official trailer "in a new light", suggesting the different versions of Maximoff and Vision that appear in the series were because of Maximoff "breaking down walls between different realities", which could set up Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and the untitled Spider-Man film.[82]

In early December, six posters for the series were released daily, each depicting a decade from the 1950s through the 2000s. Pulliam-Moore noted that with each new poster, "different elements shift and morph, both reflecting the passage of time and WandaVision's plot developments".[83] The release of the posters was followed by a new trailer that debuted at Disney's Investors Day presentation. Anderton noted for /Film that the trailer featured more non-sitcom-inspired footage than previously seen, with "a lot to soak in".[84] Chaim Gartenberg at The Verge called the new trailer "mind-bending",[85] while Tom Reimann of Collider described it as "delightfully weird" and drew comparisons to the "House of M" comic book storyline.[86] Tony Sokol at Den of Geek highlighted the trailer's use of The Monkees' song "Daydream Believer", believing the title and lyrics reflected Maximoff's state well, though he noted that the music becomes "barely recognizable under increasing layers of psychedelic weirdness" in the trailer.[87] The first two episodes of the series Marvel Studios: Legends explore Maximoff and Vision using footage from their MCU film appearances. The episodes were released on January 8, 2021.[88]

Release

WandaVision premiered on January 15, 2021, with the release of its first two episodes on Disney+.[89] The other seven episodes are scheduled for release weekly until March 5.[34][89] Marvel Studios considered releasing the entire season at once, but chose weekly releases after seeing the "fun of week-to-week" provided by the Disney+ Star Wars series The Mandalorian. Feige said the episodes were built with the weekly release in mind, so the audience could "try to guess what happens next, to have a week speculating or rewatching and building that anticipation." He felt binge watching the series after all the episodes were released would be an "equally fun experience".[35]

Shakman said the series was able to premiere so soon after filming completed due to post-production work beginning during the series' COVID-19 production shutdown.[8]:34 Schaeffer felt the series was "suited to [being released during] this moment in time", amidst the pandemic, because it is a "reflection of a lot of the anxiety that we're feeling, and a lot of the pathos and chaos of [2020], so it feels very right to me".[8]:35 The series was originally announced as releasing in early 2021,[90] before being moved forward to a December 2020 release in February 2020.[91] It was then moved back to the early 2021 slot in November 2020.[92] It is the first series in, and the start of, Phase Four of the MCU.[15]

Critical response

The review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 97% approval rating, based on 127 reviews, with an average rating of 7.68/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Part loving homage to TV history, part off-kilter mystery, WandaVision is a wonderfully weird and strikingly bold step into the small screen for the MCU – and a perfect showcase for Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany".[93] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 76 out of 100, based on 37 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[94]

TVLine's Rebecca Iannucci gave the first three episodes an "A", calling them "an intriguing, fresh, genuinely delightful deviation from what we've come to expect", and praising the performances of the cast, specifically Olsen. She did question if the series would have been better suited releasing its episodes all at once as opposed to weekly.[95] Giving the series an "A-", Sam Barsanti at The A.V. Club called WandaVision "the ultimate expression" of the MCU's potential to "do new things and tell new kinds of stories" and a series with the potential to be "a riveting entry in the MCU canon".[96] Calling WandaVision Marvel's "oddest TV property to date", Daniel Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter said it was not weirder than Guardians of the Galaxy, but it was "creatively courageous [to give] a postmodern exploration of sitcom conventions to an audience expecting snazzy suits and explosions." Fienberg likened the series more towards meta-sitcoms Get a Life and That's My Bush! than a traditional comic book series, and called it Marvel's version of the short Too Many Cooks.[14] The shift between each decade in the episodes was "simply remarkable" to Liz Shannon Miller of Collider. Miller praised Olsen and Bettany, and said Hahn was "too good for mere words to encompass". Awarding the series an "A", Miller concluded that the MCU "framework has never allowed for this level of experimentation before now... WandaVision dares to actually really challenge the viewer".[97] Darren Franich at Entertainment Weekly said it was an unusual start to Phase Four, and gave the first three episodes a "B+". He described the scenes that "lovingly conjure the mood of very old television shows" as the best parts of the episodes, but was concerned that the mystery of the series would be "like just another movie" with the potential to become "an overly familiar superhero smash-up". Franich said the success of the series would be determined by how this is handled.[98]

Caroline Framke, in her review for Variety, called WandaVision "an admirably weird introduction to the new age of Marvel TV", but felt it could be confusing to casual MCU viewers as well as fans of the sitcoms that inspired it. Framke also did not find any of the episodes "particularly funny", and felt the series' best moments were when Maximoff and Vision were shown to not belong in their reality.[21] Michael Phillips, writing for the Chicago Tribune, was more critical of the first three episodes, calling them "interestingly bad" and criticiing the use of sitcom tropes such as "canned and deadly" laugh tracks. He also felt that one episode's worth of story was stretched out over the first three.[99] Roxana Hadadi at RogerEbert.com said it was difficult to tell where the series would go from the first three episodes, but she felt Maximoff and Vision were being sidelined in favor of the allusions to past sitcoms and also that there was no "sense of narrative stakes" due to the series taking place within the larger narrative of the MCU.[100] Dominic Patten of Deadline Hollywood was also critical of the series, calling it "tiresome" and "a baby boomer punchline in search of a joke". Patten believed WandaVision was a step backwards for Marvel television series, believing that Marvel's Netflix series and ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. were better, and he added the series to his list of times Marvel had "gotten it wrong".[101]

References

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