Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige had this vision (See what I did there?) where he wanted to create this multi-platform cinematic universe that would encompass both the large and small screens. He wanted to bridge movies with television, and while that start seemed promising with ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as well as Agent Carter, things began to derail with the Netflix properties of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Punisher, and ultimately The Defenders. With different division heads refusing to see eye-to-eye with what Feige was trying to accomplish that idea eventually got tossed out until Disney decided to get into the streaming business with their Disney+ service. Now Feige had the means to start telling stories that were both intimate and grand at the same time, giving them the same flavor and excitement as had been achieved on the big screen where Marvel has arguably been winning the box-office battle with their superhero properties. With Feige finally in control, he has carefully handpicked the right people to oversee the specific properties and did so again ushering in Marvel’s Phase 4 with giving us the remarkably unique and exciting WandaVision.
Through aggressive marketing, it was made known that this would be unlike anything anyone had previously seen from Marvel Studios. By capitalizing on the weekly episodic format the series started with episodes that both served as homages to much older properties (The Dick Van Dyke Show, Bewitched, etc.) as well as establish layers of subtext that would be revealed as the series progressed giving it a variety that no one had seen on television before. This also gave the showrunners the chance to focus and develop the main characters in a manner that would not be afforded to them on the big screen. The result was not only some of the most compelling television in terms of action but we were given some powerful performances that almost any actor would love to sink their teeth into.
One cast member that turned out to be an incredible delight is Kathryn Hahn as the nosey neighbor Agnes. Her initial comedic appearances were delightful especially her callback performance to that of the Stephens’s equally nosey neighbor Gladys Kravitz. She had a brilliant presence whenever she was on the screen that was so perfectly told that when her “surprise” occurred it ended up making perfect sense. Again, that is a masterful job done by all people involved from the writing to the directing, and especially the acting by Hahn.
Paul Bettany’s return as Vision was more than a welcome one. Bettany was already becoming something of a beloved character even when it was restricted to only his voice as J.A.R.V.I.S., the majordomo AI employed by Tony Stark starting with Iron Man and into Avengers: Age Of Ultron. When his voice-over character evolved into the sentient-android Vision Bettany’s gentle performance gave the character a beautiful sense of wisdom and nobility. The character’s demise in Avengers: Infinity War was heartbreaking indeed, not only because we lost a popular character but it meant saying goodbye to a beloved actor, but now he came back in the most bizarre of circumstances that possibly even planted the seeds for more appearances by Bettany.
Then there is the incredible Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff. She had already shown what a strong actress she is with individual scenes throughout the Marvel movies she had appeared in, but now she had the chance to dig deep and deliver what were some of the most varied and powerfully emotional scenes that has some people already talking about an Emmy Award for her performance. Olsen may have made Wanda Maximoff one of the most popular characters in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The series had a host of extras and additional castmembers who deserve equal mention, especially Kat Dennings returning as the comedic Darcy Lewis (from the Thor films) and Randall Park as FBI agent Jimmy Woo (from Ant-Man and the Wasp), but it also brought over the delightful performances of young Julian Hilliard and Jett Klyne playing Maximoff twins Billy and Tommy. They both gave excellent turns as the powerful offspring of Vision and Wanda. It is my hope that we have not seen the last of them. There was also the surprise casting Evan Peters who had played the character of Quicksilver in the Fox Studios X-Men franchise. Having him make an appearance as Wanda’s late brother Pietro made fans freak out all over the world and gave hope that perhaps we would see the folding in of the Fox Marvel heroes into the rest of the MCU.
Lastly, there are the nods that connect this series to past Marvel properties, most notably the incident from Avengers: Infinity War that caused half of the world’s population to disappear (and return in Avengers: Endgame) as well as more than a healthy reference to Captain Marvel that asked some questions that definitely require answering. It is all of this, and more, that has made WandaVision so successfully entertaining as well as proving that the Disney+ streaming service is a marvelous platform for more in-depth storytelling within the MCU. If WandaVision is any indicator then the future for Marvel Studios looks extremely bright as they have proven that they know how to deliver exciting stories for both the large and small screens effectively more than doubling the amount of entertaining content for superhero fans to dine on for years to come, even if there isn’t a second season of WandaVision.