News

WandaVision First Reviews: A Whimsical Homage to Classic TV and a Tantalizing Slow-Burn Mystery

Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany deliver the comedic goods, as the series drops delightful comic book Easter eggs and its mystery unfolds in the highly-anticipated return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

by | January 14, 2021 | Comments

After the pandemic brought the industry to a halt, delaying multiple release dates for the studio, Marvel has finally returned with limited series WandaVision, kicking off the beginning of its Phase 4 slate. It’s also the studio’s first foray into delivering some original programming to Disney+, with the first two episodes of the series premiering to the streamer on Friday, January 15.

The highly-anticipated series puts Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and her synthezoid boyfriend Vision (Paul Bettany) in the spotlight. A 1950s-style sitcom spotlight, to be specific. On the surface, WandaVision looks to be unlike anything Marvel has done within the 13-year framework of its Marvel Cinematic Universe.

But does the program work? Here’s what critics are saying about WandaVision:


HOW DOES THE SITCOM NARRATIVE WORK?

Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany in WandaVision

(Photo by Marvel Studios/Disney+)

“Each new episode replicates a different decade of yesteryear sitcoms beginning with 1950s’ I Love Lucy and The Dick Van Dyke Show in the premiere episode. The second episode tackles series like Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, and the third shadows The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and so on.” —Megan Vick, TV Guide

“It’s played almost as a straight tribute to those ancient shows, but there are tiny touches, here and there — beyond the employment of superpowers — that suggest that something is very wrong.” — Helen O’Hara, Empire Online

“In a break from the traditions of the ’50s and ’60s, the faux-sitcom vehicles of the first two episodes go out of their way to cast people of color, and to poke at the blatant misogyny that turned shows like Leave It to Beaver into symbols of a bygone era. When actress Teyonah Parris pops up in episode 2 as one of Wanda’s new neighborhood pals, Geraldine, WandaVision has its cake. Old shows never had Black women playing this type of role to chipper perfection, but “Geraldine” clearly knows she isn’t supposed to be there.” — Matt Patches, Polygon

“With each installment, a few more cracks in the sitcom facade appear, but the bigger mystery is unveiled at an excruciatingly slow pace. In the second episode, Teyonah Parris is introduced as mysterious neighbor Geraldine, but those who have been following Marvel casting news will know there’s more to her than that. The third offers some tantalizing peeks at what might really be going on but stops short of explaining it. As a weekly series, it’s an aggravating and unsuccessful structure.” — Kelly Lawler, USA Today

WandaVision isn’t just another story about superheroes; WandaVision is a love letter to the history of sitcoms, one that sharply dissects how and why the format endures and why it remains culturally significant. Yep—WandaVision is a superhero show (a genre that’s frequently dismissed by critics) that analyzes sitcoms (a format frequently overlooked by critics).” — Brett White, Decider


HOW IS THE PRODUCTION QUALITY?

Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany in WandaVision

(Photo by Marvel Studios/Disney+)

“The set design, the performances, and the specific feel of a multi-camera sitcom — WandaVision’s pilot was filmed in front of a live studio audience — reflect a love for these indelible shows.” — Alex Abad-Santos, Vox

“The look and feel of each episode is true to the spirit of its respective sitcom era as much as to any one show, as it’s clear everyone did their homework(*).” — Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone

“Though it gets off to a slow start, the show has plenty going for it, from gorgeous, extremely expensive-looking production design and breathtaking special effects to punchy performances, a trippy mood and a plot that does eventually become quite absorbing.” — Judy Berman, TIME Magazine

“Christophe Beck nails the jaunty sitcom score interstitials that bookend scenes, while Frozen songwriters Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez gift our leads with period-appropriate jingles that befit whatever decade they’re trapped in now.” — Clint Worthington, The Spool


HOW DOES IT CONNECT TO THE MCU?

Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany in WandaVision

(Photo by Marvel Studios/Disney+)

“As the saturation drains from the title card, and the opening notes of WandaVision’s first theme song begins to play, the episodic nature of the series jumps out, and reminds you that this debut Marvel series on Disney’s streaming service isn’t quite trying to conjure up your traditional MCU shock and awe.” — Charles Pulliam-Moore, io9.com

“These Disney+ series, though, expand the story of characters we know from the movies in way that the movies simple did not have time to do. It also allows WandaVision creator Jac Schaeffer and director Matt Shakman to put a uniquely stylized and deeply emotional spin on a story that would have (had this been a movie) otherwise been shackled by the mandated aesthetics of the overall MCU.” — Allison Keene, Paste Magazine

“There is an overarching story to the series, one that will presumably explain how these very surreal events connect back to the lives (and deaths) of matter-and-mind manipulating Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and the artificial “synthezoid” known as Vision (Paul Bettany) from the more cinematic entires of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Through the first third of WandaVision’s season, though, its Marvel mythology remains in the background.” — Matt Singer, ScreenCrush

“What’s really going on here, given where movie-goers saw these Avengers last? That’s the fundamental mystery, one the producing team is clearly in no hurry to divulge. Patience becomes a virtue, taking in the sitcom homages while maintaining a watchful eye for sly Marvel references and cleverly placed dollops of color, presenting possible cracks in the black-and-white veneer.” — Brian Lowry, CNN


HOW ARE ELIZABETH OLSEN AND PAUL BETTANY?

Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany in WandaVision

(Photo by Marvel Studios/Disney+)

“Olsen and Bettany are delightful as they channel sitcom performers of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, demonstrating their sharp comedic timing. It’s a testament to their strengths as actors that they don’t come across as doing imitations of the old shows WandaVision draws from, which helps immerse viewers in each new period.” — Chris Agar, ScreenRant

“If you were looking for charming stars to convey a Mary Tyler Moore/Dick Van Dyke vibe, you couldn’t do much better as Olsen and Bettany get to spell out the sweet chemistry that the movies have only hinted at.” — Dan Fienberg, Hollywood Reporter

“Bettany has had a few comedic roles in the past, but none that demanded this level of full-on slapstick commitment — yet his follow-through makes him feel like a pro with 100+ episodes of syndicated hilarity under his belt. And it’s not just that he can deliver some killer punchlines, it’s how fiercely he throws himself into the relevant archetypes of each era while always allowing the glimmer of artifice to stand out.” — Liz Shannon Miller, Collider


WHAT ABOUT THE SUPPORTING CAST?

Kathryn Hahn in WandaVision

(Photo by Marvel Studios/Disney+)

“The leads aren’t left alone to do all the heavy lifting thanks to a terrific supporting cast of character actors that wouldn’t normally find their way into a Marvel Studios production. Notably, Kathryn Hahn uses her comedic skills to great effect as the precocious neighbor Agnes and That 70’s Show alum Debra Jo Rupp, as the wife of Vision’s boss, is a perfect addition to add to the period feel of the show.” — Kyle Wilson, Lamplight Review

“Alongside Olsen and Bettany is Kathryn Hahn as a nosy neighbor, whose comic relief develops and darkens as the show moves into the 1970s. She’s as invaluable in WandaVision as she is in most things, perfectly capturing the series’s mood of perky, tireless energy slowly being consumed by paranoid sci-fi dread.” — Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

“The supporting cast is also a delight, with hints of further meaning yet to be unveiled, with the impeccable Kathryn Hahn bringing the sass as the couple’s helpful neighbour Agnes and Mad Men’s Teyonah Parris as the mysterious Monica Rambeau.” — Lewis Knight, Daily Mirror (UK)


ANY FINAL THOUGHTS?

“Unabashed, off-kilter, and unlike anything Marvel has ever attempted, WandaVision is a reality-warping joy that promises a new beginning of the MCU.” — Lauren J. Coates, Consequence of Sound

“Stretched out into three (and likely more) episodes, the stuck-in-a-TV-show premise starts to seem like a better idea for an interlude within something larger, rather than a whole thing unto itself.” — Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

“Working as both a love letter to classic sitcom television and a modern comic book mystery, WandaVision is just weird and charming enough to work.” — Kyle Wilson, Lamplight Review

“Consider WandaVision an unusual first step for this new Marvel phase. The best parts lovingly conjure the mood of very old television shows. The worst parts feel like just another movie.” — Darren Franich, EW

WandaVision premieres its first two episodes on Friday, January 15 on Disney+.

Tag Cloud

remakes Image Comics worst Endgame critic resources quibi Amazon Prime Baby Yoda blockbusters NBC Comics on TV child's play rom-coms thriller cancelled GoT richard e. Grant cancelled television Ovation Nominations Holiday Disney Plus Black History Month Musicals Academy Awards razzies free movies know your critic composers Columbia Pictures worst movies ESPN Hulu suspense Netflix Christmas movies Tomatazos Christmas Podcast Spike TruTV indie RT21 TV renewals Women's History Month ABC deadpool cops comic book movie Alien period drama robots LGBT cancelled TV shows social media Hear Us Out Legendary mission: impossible Mudbound breaking bad wonder woman science fiction women cooking scene in color Apple TV+ Epix E3 YouTube joker Turner based on movie miniseries Song of Ice and Fire Mary Poppins Returns series king arthur die hard Masterpiece 71st Emmy Awards asian-american Television Academy Musical The Walking Dead war serial killer DGA space legend Extras video on demand Animation New York Comic Con Walt Disney Pictures biography LGBTQ ViacomCBS book adaptation USA Brie Larson scorecard Avengers Sundance ITV football adaptation new star wars movies OWN crime rt labs critics edition Sci-Fi Year in Review king kong Syfy jamie lee curtis psychological thriller 2020 Drama chucky RT History Television Critics Association WGN critics Freeform Lionsgate Star Trek CW Seed 2017 Spectrum Originals Rock 90s revenge adventure ABC Signature zombie indiana jones Star Wars action-comedy Shudder YouTube Premium superman Crunchyroll Paramount Plus ID spy thriller award winner E! President Exclusive Video Disney doctor who 20th Century Fox vampires TCA Stephen King Lifetime Esquire dc Shondaland TNT Country hispanic heritage month Reality Competition lord of the rings godzilla blaxploitation Chilling Adventures of Sabrina stoner toronto criterion National Geographic cats Winter TV tv talk olympics marvel cinematic universe ratings BBC One 2016 CBS CBS All Access TIFF Captain marvel screenings video Pride Month target renewed TV shows Biopics First Look Music stand-up comedy Trailer discovery Quiz Bravo directors PlayStation telelvision Marvel Television Red Carpet movies comic book movies fast and furious VOD Ghostbusters Best and Worst romance Disney streaming service Britbox witnail all-time spanish TV Pop Calendar OneApp TCA Awards strong female leads FOX canceled sitcom Logo Paramount The CW slashers Starz screen actors guild Super Bowl franchise what to watch binge cinemax NYCC mutant Rocky boxing nbcuniversal Opinion A&E Crackle streaming a nightmare on elm street Certified Fresh TBS Cosplay jurassic park japanese werewolf TV One docudrama classics green book SDCC Writers Guild of America golden globe awards Turner Classic Movies reboot TLC universal monsters Creative Arts Emmys Interview Classic Film Holidays transformers AMC FX on Hulu cartoon sequel halloween Action BAFTA finale zombies 2015 venice superhero zero dark thirty FX Countdown Oscars blockbuster Acorn TV films Trophy Talk Nat Geo basketball 1990s Pixar historical drama kaiju anime Comedy Central hollywood A24 japan CNN black Sundance Now Amazon Studios 4/20 Pirates medical drama Heroines Emmys dceu Tokyo Olympics sag awards festivals theme song SXSW Food Network rt labs Fall TV Watching Series Film Festival Apple TV Plus gangster trailers Discovery Channel HBO Max Comic Book boxoffice debate spider-man talk show movie Cartoon Network italian dragons ABC Family Peacock VICE elevated horror Arrowverse Spring TV children's TV comic books rotten movies we love USA Network versus canceled TV shows Pet Sematary Ellie Kemper Hallmark PaleyFest YA toy story news documentary monster movies cars SundanceTV unscripted Disney+ Disney Plus Marathons APB satire The Witch foreign The Walt Disney Company casting biopic Amazon Kids & Family El Rey Polls and Games crime thriller police drama Wes Anderson Western 93rd Oscars new york 2018 comedies Amazon Prime Video 21st Century Fox kids Dark Horse Comics south america Marvel spain Anna Paquin 24 frames political drama Video Games TCA 2017 Fox Searchlight game show cults natural history Emmy Nominations Sneak Peek psycho Apple PBS reviews DC streaming service Sony Pictures saw comic Infographic Tubi DirecTV Awards new zealand History independent Mystery kong Hallmark Christmas movies Pacific Islander Fox News feel good Rom-Com 72 Emmy Awards The Purge CMT fresh name the review MTV book Thanksgiving Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt BET crime drama comics 73rd Emmy Awards christmas movies crossover documentaries 2021 Trivia GIFs dogs halloween tv aliens Travel Channel Mindy Kaling live action American Society of Cinematographers emmy awards Disney Channel TV movies true crime festival supernatural Comedy hispanic VH1 Fantasy Character Guide Nickelodeon BET Awards Premiere Dates Chernobyl travel X-Men Box Office cancelled TV series 007 young adult comiccon IFC Rocketman Paramount Network Horror BBC America best FXX Marvel Studios Schedule pirates of the caribbean IFC Films international 45 Showtime game of thrones Mary Tyler Moore Comic-Con@Home 2021 heist movie singing competition Binge Guide Cannes Mary poppins dexter Photos sequels Winners Grammys archives adenture Netflix mcc Superheroe Valentine's Day justice league nfl disaster Reality Elton John parents romantic comedy HBO Go 99% Funimation spanish language Set visit Film YouTube Red slasher scary movies Lucasfilm golden globes TCM Superheroes HBO Family Teen MCU dramedy anthology Election Sundance TV technology Tarantino TCA Winter 2020 twilight MSNBC Vudu prank Black Mirror 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards First Reviews docuseries spinoff dark television marvel comics nature james bond harry potter royal family Pop TV Adult Swim BBC concert NBA obituary high school San Diego Comic-Con diversity mockumentary rt archives Universal sports The Arrangement ghosts Broadway french Martial Arts Lifetime Christmas movies hist laika australia stop motion popular Tumblr DC Universe Warner Bros. streaming movies Toys Summer TV Land facebook batman aapi DC Comics rotten latino teaser GLAAD See It Skip It The Academy 2019 posters WarnerMedia hidden camera politics animated Awards Tour