WandaVision: Perfect for MCU Fans But Too Confusing for Newbies?

WandaVision is the first new burst of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in over a year and like all MCU titles, it generates a massive amount of buzz and column inches. The show is a major sign that the MCU has become like the comics in that you have to have seen a whole bunch of other MCU movies before you know who the characters are, what's going on or why you should care. Marvel Studios and Disney seem to be okay with that.

WandaVision released a new teaser (Image: screencap)
WandaVision released a new teaser (Image: screencap)

Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) spend their first 3 episodes mysteriously living in a world that's a pastiche of classic American situation comedies, starting with their arrival in town. They try to live like an ordinary middle-class couple while hiding their superpowers – she seems to be a witch and he's an android. The 1st episode was a pastiche and homage to The Dick Van Dyke Show and I Love Lucy with its 1950s-style portrayal of Wanda trying to please her husband and be the perfect wife while he tries to impress his grouchy boss to get a promotion. The 2nd episode moved into the late 60s with its pastiche of Bewitched where Wanda starts to have agency of her own outside the household as feminism starts to seep into the sitcom. The episode ends with Wanda magicking color into the world and announcing her surprise pregnancy. The 3rd episode is a pastiche of the "wife starts to give birth while husband runs around panicking" sitcom plot with cracks in reality threatening to erupt. The 4th episode starts to explain what's going on, though long-running fans who know the comics have already guessed it. But total newcomers who have never seen an MCU movie might be wondering who these characters are or why they should care.

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Sneak Peek _ Marvel Studios' WandaVision _ Disney+ 0-21 screenshot

WandaVision suggests that the MCU has entered its decadent stage. It's not for newcomers at all. You need to have seen Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Captain Marvel, and Avengers: Endgame in order to know who Wanda and Vision are, who Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) is, why anything matters, and how the events tie into events from the previous movies and where things are going. You need to have seen Ant-Man and The Wasp, Thor, and Thor: The Dark Age to know FBI agent Jimmy Wu's (Randall Park) and Darcy Lewis' (Kat Dennings) origins as ongoing characters in the MCU.

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Extended Clip _ Marvel Studios' WandaVision _ Disney+ 0-16 screenshot

For more than 20 years now, Marvel comics have been so interlinked and convoluted that you can't pick up any book cold and understand what's going on in it. You have to have read dozens of other titles before you finally get what the hell's going on. There are very few entry points to Marvel Comics to this day. The first MCU movies were self-contained and easily digested, but as the sequels rolled in, they became increasingly interlinked. The MCU gradually replicated the comics experience where each new movie was really a new chapter in the ongoing story of the MCU. The movies became one big ongoing narrative that all led to Avengers: Endgame. Now WandaVision is the first entry in the next stage of the MCU story, and the MCU has become like the comics. It's a major investment of time, emotion, and energy for anyone who wants to follow it. That's consistent with Marvel Studios and Disney's drive to keep fans hooked. The MCU is more than just a bunch of movies and characters. It's a lifestyle that hooks fans into obsessively following their favorite characters and storylines, and never wants to let them go.

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About Adi Tantimedh

Adi Tantimedh is a filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist who just likes to writer. He wrote radio plays for the BBC Radio, “JLA: Age of Wonder” for DC Comics, “Blackshirt” for Moonstone Books, and “La Muse” for Big Head Press. Most recently, he wrote “Her Nightly Embrace”, “Her Beautiful Monster” and “Her Fugitive Heart”, a trilogy of novels featuring a British-Indian private eye published by Atria Books, a division Simon & Schuster.
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