By Savannah Brooks
Marvel’s Wandavision wrapped up Friday with its final episode, a 49-minute cumulation that really only answered some of fans’ questions and was much more “Marvel” than those that came before.
Wandavision’s first three episodes, led by Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) were delightful, creepy and directly sitcom-inspired. Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience was 50’s-themed and inspired by I Love Lucy – it was even black-and-white. The 50’s and 60’s (Don’t Touch That Dial) episodes were released on the same night, and were extremely cryptic. They were a fantastic start to phase 4 with a bold departure from Marvel’s usual content. After the Bewitched-inspired 60’s episode came The Brady Bunch-inspired Now in Color, which, as the title suggests, was the first episode to be entirely in color. Wanda’s twins, Billy (Julian Hilliard) and Tommy (Baylen Bielitz), were born in this episode, which is huge for fans of Marvel’s Young Avengers comic runs. Billy Kaplan and Tommy Shepherd are two of the most iconic Marvel comic book characters to be created in the last two decades, and mark the beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe setting up a Young Avengers project (reviewer’s note – if you don’t know anything about the Young Avengers and want to know more – read Young Avengers (2005). You won’t regret it). Kaplan and Shepherd are also two of the most iconic LGBTQ+ comic characters – Kaplan being gay and Shepherd being bisexual. This likely marks the start of Phase 4’s commitment to being more diverse, as Kaplan and Shepherd are two of many LGBTQ+ characters that have been confirmed for projects in Phase 4.
It is ironic, however, that Marvel claims they want to be diverse in Phase 4 when their very first project is led by a non-Jewish and non-Romani woman in a Jewish and Romani role. Wanda Maximoff is both in the comics, and Elizabeth Olsen is neither – honestly, it’s still up in the air whether or not Maximoff is even Jewish. She’s certainly not Romani in the MCU, as she grew up with her birth parents in Sokovia. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, there is even a cross shown in her room, leaving fans to wonder if the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has erased her Jewish heritage. This has certainly been one of the largest complaints about Wandavision, with some fans even calling for a recast of Olsen.
We Interrupt This Program, or Wandavision’s fourth episode, was much different than the first three – it was an expository episode, explaining when in the MCU timeline Wandavision takes place and introducing Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), now an adult – we last saw her as a kid in Captain Marvel. It seemed marketed more towards casual fans, as it partly caught its audience up on events from Infinity War and Endgame. It dragged, slightly, and the information, in this reviewer’s opinion, could’ve easily been explained in a shorter time period – 34 minutes of expository information was not needed and slowed down the show considerably. Episode 5 picked up its predecessor’s slack with the 80’s themed On a Very Special Episode… In Episode 5, inspired by shows like Full House and Family Ties, we started to see the twins miraculously grow to 10 years old within the 41 minute episode – but we are also introduced to a very special guest.
The very end of Episode 5 saw the first appearance of “Pietro Maximoff” played by Evan Peters in the MCU. This was an extremely significant development that had fans buzzing, as Evan Peters played Peter Maximoff in the X-Men cinematic universe, who was Quicksilver under a different name (due to copyright issues between Fox and Marvel). X-Men fans in particular were extremely excited, as the casting of Evan Peters as “Pietro” meant that many beloved actors such as James Mcavoy and Michael Fassbender (as Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr) may not be recast after all now that the film rights to the X-Men have been re-acquired by Marvel. “Pietro” played a large role in Wandavision’s sixth episode, All-New Halloween Spooktacular! The 90’s themed episode was the series’ best by far, with a fantastic combination of comic references (Wanda, Vision, “Pietro,” Tommy, and Billy were all in comic-accurate costumes), hilarious one-liners by Peters’ “Pietro” that reminded X-Men fans of similar ones in movies like Days of Future Past, and mysterious new developments, such as the sudden appearance of children and Vision’s eerie conversation with Wanda and Vision’s neighbor, Agnes (Kathryn Hahn). This episode, inspired by Malcom in the Middle, even had Billy breaking the fourth wall and talking directly to the audience.
Wandavision’s final sitcom-themed episode, Breaking the Fourth Wall, was a 2000’s episode based on shows like The Office and Modern Family. It was fairly slow, and had a notable lack of “Pietro” after Wanda attacked him in the episode prior. It ended with the reveal of Agnes as Agatha Harkness, a character who had only existed in the comics so far as Wanda’s mentor who often had her own agenda. In Wandavision, Agatha is the villain, and her reveal came with a catchy theme song that was stuck in fans’ heads for the following weeks. The reveal led into the penultimate episode, Previously On, which was extremely similar to Episode 4 – it was extremely expository and unnecessary. Previously On was slow and gave us very little information that we didn’t already know, but its end credits scene did include the reveal of White Vision, an exciting addition that caused fans to be even more thrilled for the finale.
The ninth and final episode, The Series Finale, in this reviewer’s opinion, was a huge letdown. Wandavision, up to this point, had been special because it was different than anything Marvel had done before – yet it ended with a prolonged, cheesy, CGI battle – the most “Marvel” thing a show can do. In the final episode, both Wanda and Agatha and Vision and White Vision have poorly choreographed and slow fight scenes. We learn, in this episode, that “Pietro” is not Peter Maximoff from the X-Men universe, but instead an actor that Agatha had bewitched whose real name is Ralph Bohner. Virtually, Marvel had a perfect opportunity to introduce the multiverse, but they turned it into a cheap, flimsy punchline that didn’t linger in the viewers’ minds for longer than a moment. The season finale was an end to a fantastic show that fell flat. It was poorly-paced, with a slow opening and too much packed into the last act. There was virtually no closure given for anyone besides Wanda, with White Vision leaving Westview in the middle with no explanation and Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings), a popular side character, not even appearing at the end with her counterparts. Wandavision had a messy end that didn’t live up to its expectations.
In all, Wandavision had some fantastic episodes and introduced several long-awaited comic book characters, yet left viewers with too many questions. Kathryn Hahn and Teyonah Parris gave fantastic performances, especially for their first appearances. Since it won’t be getting a season 2 due to the linear nature of the show, this reviewer hopes that Darcy, Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) and Monica get some sort of closure in their next projects – fans hope to see Woo in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantamania and can count on seeing Monica in Captain Marvel 2. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will be Wanda’s next appearance, while White Vision’s whereabouts remain a mystery.