Minor spoilers ahead for the first three episodes of WandaVision.
When I saw the WandaVision trailer for the first time, I was intrigued and couldn’t wait to check it out … until I saw the words “Marvel Cinematic Universe.” To be clear, that’s not a knock on the MCU or its fans. But not being fully versed in all things Marvel, I was intimidated by my lack of knowledge. How could I, a mere civilian, pick one interesting storyline out of thousands and be expected to follow along with all of the hidden references? Forget the Easter eggs; I didn’t know basic facts about Wanda Maximoff or Vision. If you’re like me, I’m here to assure you, WandaVision is every bit as quirky, funny and creepy as you’d hoped, no prior knowledge required.
If you do want to familiarize yourself with some background information, there are plenty of resources to do that. But I decided to give WandaVision a go with the most minimal amount of research (I pretty much knew that Wanda is otherwise known as the Scarlet Witch, and she had a twin brother who was killed). What drew me to the series, and in turn kept me watching, started with the undeniably impressive cast, led by Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda and Paul Bettany as Vision. The classic TV sitcom settings were another draw, attracting viewers with an innocent familiarity that only amplified the discomfort when things started going awry. Here’s how each of those aspects combine for a great viewing experience, even if you’re not an MCU fan.
Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany are so enjoyable to watch together. I didn’t see Avengers: Endgame or Avengers: Infinity War (or any others that might include Wanda or Vision), but it’s hard to believe characters from those movies could drop so seamlessly into a 1950s-era sitcom. I honestly forgot sometimes that I wasn’t watching a straight Dick Van Dyke spoof. Wanda and Vision together are sweet and klutzy, with great comedic timing. None of that chemistry changes as the couple jumps into other decades either. The interactions between the stars manages to stay incredibly consistent as they venture through the various eras of vintage television.
Equal to the leads is the strength of the supporting cast. Kathryn Hahn, who we meet in Episode 1, “Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience,” as the nosy neighbor Agnes is perfectly eccentric, and she evolves naturally with the decades into a character who knows more than she lets on. Episode 2, “Don’t Touch That Dial,” introduces Teyonah Parris as Geraldine, a seemingly friendly confidante, who we’re led to have suspicions about fairly quickly.
It was also a treat to see Fred Melamed and Debra Jo Rupp in Episode 1 as Vision’s boss and his wife, the Harts. Mrs. Hart also makes an appearance in the background of Episode 2 (Debra Jo Rupp as a background actress?! What is happening on this show?)
My childhood was definitely more Nick at Nite than it was superheroes, so setting each episode in a different decade of sitcom television was such a universally attractive choice to draw in potential viewers who might say comic book shows aren’t for them. Episode 1 took obvious inspiration from The Dick Van Dyke Show, and Episode 2 was a twitch of the nose to Bewitched, but there seemed to be a bit of I Love Lucy and I Dream of Jeannie there too. I’m excited to see what shows continue to be referenced as the series goes on. It's not just the physical setting that the writing seems to capture either, but the tone of the first few episodes feels very specific to the era.
Even if you don't count yourself a Marvel fan, you can pick up on details dropped from the settings themselves. For instance, I enjoyed the Brady Bunch set in Episode 3, "Now in Color," but I was thrown at first by the staircase, which didn’t seem to be in the same place as in the hit show from the 1960s and '70s, and to be sure, no detail like that is unintentional. Which brings me to …
Here’s where it gets a little more complicated for the MCU-uneducated viewer like myself. Because I can recognize that everything means something, but will I ever truly understand what? I’m looking at the numbers in the street addresses, the times on the clocks, the logos on everything. Product names! Those commercials are probably chock-full of clues. (Clues to what? I DON’T KNOW!)
But Easter Egg FOMO aside, not knowing the whole Marvel story doesn’t detract from the eeriness of those WTF moments. The aforementioned scene from Episode 1 with the Harts had probably more going on than even some MCU fans might have noticed, but there’s a moment at the dinner table that fully freaked me out. Never has a line reading of “Stop it” been more unnerving.
Episode 2, “Don’t Touch That Dial,” features a similar moment with some strange things coming across the radio waves. Something is clearly amiss in this world, and it’s enjoyable to witness, even if a more informed fan probably has a leg-up on what that is. Like what the heck was that Beekeeper in Episode 2? Surely that meant something to lots of people, but not this girl.
WandaVision was expertly created to be enjoyed by masters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and non-fans alike. The unraveling of whatever is happening in Wanda and Vision’s world is a thrill to watch, and every episode introduces new clues, answers some questions and, more than anything, leaves me wanting to know more.
Thankfully there are people smarter than me here at CinemaBlend to help us delve into the universe as far as we dare to go. New episodes of WandaVision are released on Disney+ on Fridays, so check out a plethora of MCU coverage on CinemaBlend, and bookmark this page to keep track of Upcoming Marvel Movies in 2021 and beyond.