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Critics are calling 'WandaVision' one of Marvel's best and weirdest projects to date
After a long year without any new movies since the MCU first kicked off in 2008, Marvel is poised to make their first new television offering (of many) since Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. finally retired off the air last year, in the form of WandaVision.
But while The Falcon and Winter Soldier and even Loki and Hawkeye all seem like straightforward tales about the heroes (and antiheroes) at their center, WandaVision's trailer — as well as early reactions on Twitter — have made it clear that the series will be part-homage to classic American sitcoms, and part-unravelling of the mystery of what has landed Wanda Maximoff (AKA the Scarlet Witch) and Vision (Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany) in American suburbia, especially given the events of Avengers: Endgame.
Joining them in send-ups to beloved shows like Bewitched and The Brady Bunch are Katherine Hahn as neighbor Agnes, Teyonarah Parris as another neighbor Geraldine (and possibly Monica Rambeau herself), Debrah Jo Rupp, and Fred Melamed as Vision's boss and his wife, among many others. Jac Schaeffer (Black Widow) serves as showrunner, with Matt Shakman (Game of Thrones) directing all the episodes. MCU maven Kevin Feige himself executive produced the project.
The series will launch with a two-episode premiere on Disney+ this Friday, before releasing the rest of its nine new episodes weekly.
But before it has the chance to beam down into subscribers' homes, here's what critics have to say:
"WandaVision may not be weirder than Guardians of the Galaxy, which still has a talking raccoon and an adolescent sapling, but there's something creatively courageous about handing a postmodern exploration of sitcom conventions to an audience expecting snazzy suits and explosions. Expect a merited mixture of confusion and TV-nerd joy from viewers in response to a show that has picked a distinctive lane and commits to it." — Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter
"By instead kicking things off with our heroes' adventures in TV Land (or perhaps Nick at Nite), WandaVision gets to demonstrate just how elastic the Marvel brand can be. And after Endgame may have taken the original MCU formula as far as it can go, demonstrating that these characters are more versatile than they appeared seems like a very clever idea. When that versatility is wrapped in a meta love letter to the medium in which Feige and company now get to operate, all the better." — Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone
"Marvel has suggested that the show's nine episodes won't only be a trip through sitcom history, so expect more familiar superhero business to come. That's both a relief and not; these are expertly produced and beautifully performed twists on TV history, and Olsen and Bettany commit so hard to the cheesy comedy that you won't initially miss Wanda's usually quiet, traumatized figure or Vision's beatific stoicism. But then, their original characters have room for more exploration too, after playing small supporting roles in the films to date, so the prospect of more from them-as-themselves (or rather her-as-herself, if we're back in a reality where he's dead) is not unwelcome. Above all, it's delightful to watch superhero characters in a big-budget outing and not have a clue what's going to happen next... If this is Marvel's post-Endgame imperial phase, where they do whatever the hell they want because they can, sign us up." — Helen O'Hara, Empire Magazine
"The one thing to know about WandaVision is that, at first, it isn't an Endgame sequel, a bridge to Doctor Strange 2, or a TV series cast from molten Marvel lore. And unlike the MCU movies, which have the luxury of keeping butts in seats for two hours and explaining themselves in a single breath, this story is chopped into pieces, leaving plenty of room for unfulfilled expectations. A sitcom is lightweight. A Marvel story might need to be something else. But not in this case — WandaVision is WandaVision, and if you can watch it for what it is, it's satisfying television." — Matt Patches, Polygon
"[O]f course things in WandaVision are not quite as they seem. While there are no concrete answers to be found in the first few episodes, there are clues and eerie moments that make plain that the stakes of their supposedly blissful domestic life aren't nearly as low as advertised. Despite its character and dialogue beats, WandaVision isn't a sitcom; it's a sinister thriller wearing respectable clothes and an unnervingly bright grin. It's Pleasantville, if Pleasantville opened with the characters stuck inside the black and white television. When WandaVision leans into this uncanny-valley side of itself, it works much better than it does when it's just going through the sitcom motions others have done better before." — Caroline Framke, Variety
"With two episodes that are fun sitcom parodies and a third that ends as a vaguely horror-flavored take on a Marvel movie, WandaVision has the makings of what could be a riveting entry in the MCU canon. After all, where does a TV show go when it has already been madcap black-and-white sitcom, a slightly saucier high-concept comedy, and a super-powered mystery with possibly enormous repercussions for the wider universe? It's hard to say, because such a feat's never really been done before, and it only makes sense now because of the seemingly bottomless—yet often sparingly utilized—storytelling potential of the MCU. WandaVision is tapping into a power that the MCU has been sitting on for a decade, and like Wanda ripping Thanos apart in Endgame, it's about time we see what this thing can really do." — Alex Flood, The AV Club
"There's a lot of stuff to enjoy in WandaVision, and I haven't even mentioned the period-appropriate theme songs by Frozeneers Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. But if you pop the hood of this overlit comedy twilight zone, I worry that the central mystery is a bit standard. Success will depend on whether the eventual answers are satisfying — and whether all those fancy sitcom adornments are just a long wind-up to an overly familiar superhero smash-up. Consider WandaVision an unusual first step for this new Marvel phase. The best parts lovingly conjure the mood of very old television shows. The worst parts feel like just another movie." — Darren Franich, EW
WandaVision will premiere on Disney+ on Jan. 15 with two episodes.