Marvel fans across the globe have been chomping at the bit to get something new in their beloved Marvel Cinematic Universe. WandaVision is not only satisfying that desire but it is changing the way TV shows and movies coexist like no other show before it.
It has been more than a year since Marvel last released an instalment for their box-office smashing franchise. We should have been treated to both Black Widow and The Eternals last year but a little pandemic got in the way of Disney’s plans. Instead it falls to WandaVision to pave the way for the future of the MCU but it might also have far reaching implications for the way TV shows are made.
WARNING: Possible spoilers for WandaVision episodes 1-4 ahead
Here’s a brief summary of the show so far:
WandaVision starts off in a way that few shows have since the 1950s & 60s. It’s black & white and filmed in front of a live audience. The dialogue is a little stale and the jokes are very family friendly. It is aping the sitcoms of the late 50s and early 60s. At first you might wonder what you are watching but as the episode wraps you realise that what you are watching is actually what someone else is watching on a small, old, TV screen.
The next episode seems to move forward a decade and so does the next. Each time it appears to represent the biggest American sitcoms of each era. But you know that there is something odd going on. There are glitches, rewinds and a whole host of other oddities that clue you into the fact that this is not scripted but probably more of a manifestation of Wanda’s making. She can alter reality after all.
It isn’t until you watch episode four that things start to make a little more sense. We learn that this ‘show’ has taken over a whole town and there’s some kind of force field keeping things out and stopping local people from remembering the town (and its inhabitants) even existed. We are also introduced to S.W.O.R.D. or Sentient Weapon Observation and Response Devision who are investigating this anomaly. They seem to fill a similar role to S.H.I.E.L.D. but their full scope is not yet evident.
In this episode we team back up with Darcy Lewis from the first two Thor films, Jimmy Woo from the last Ant-Man and we meet adult Monica Rambeau – last seen in Captain Marvel but now she’s all grown up. Who was in the first few episodes but playing a character in Wanda’s TV-themed world. That is until, following the rapid birth of Wanda’s twin boys, Monica breaks character for a moment and reminds Wanda of the death of her brother. This causes Wanda to forcefully eject Monica from the ‘show’ and back into the real world.
None of what I’ve mentioned is particularly ground breaking yet I think this show is the first of its kind. Why?
Shows that link to a wider cinematic universe are nothing new. Marvel have been creating shows that have loose affiliations or obvious tie-ins for a while now. Disney recently showed that you can healthily expand a universe with the excellent Mandalorian. What WandaVision does is directly slot into a continuing narrative that, until now, has solely existed on the big screen. It is not an off-shoot of a wider universe. It is the next chapter in an ongoing story.
If you think of the MCU as a large and expensive TV series rather than individual movies then it starts to make sense. Like every other film before it, WandaVision is an integral part of the narrative. Not just a show that pays passing homage to the movies.
Take the opening shot of episode 4 – we see Monica Rambeau ‘dusting’ back together after the events of Avengers Endgame. Not only is she a character from another film but we see how the effects of the ‘reverse-snap’ really play out. This superb scene (which I won’t spoil here – if you’re even a passing Marvel fan you have to watch it for yourself) not only links directly to Endgame but it helps give depth to the events of that film. It makes it feel more real.
But that isn’t the real reason I think this show is groundbreaking. I think the real reason this show will change TV forever, is that it will directly go on to effect events in the major movie releases. We know Wanda is in the next Dr. Strange movie and it is more than likely that watching this series will be important if you want to get the most from the next mystical instalment of the MCU.
To my knowledge, a TV show has never directly influenced the direction and narrative of a movie franchise. I’m sure many of you will be shouting “But David, what about Serenity, Entourage The Movie and so on?” – Well they are quite different. They offered conclusions for successful TV shows. More like feature length finales. WandaVision is the first show in a wider interconnected universe that will feature many, many more shows that may differ wildly but will all be part of the same big story. WandaVision is a big deal and personally I cannot wait to see what comes next!