Episode 1 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 5/5
Episode 9 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
One of the biggest complaints with Marvel is also the hardest part of a story to get right. After all, how do you end an epic superhero movie? If your answer is either big disposable CGI army or bombastic action, that pretty accurately sums up most of Marvel’s illustrious big screen forays over the last 12 years.
In essence it’s the Dragon Ball Z conundrum – if everything is always bigger and badder than before, where does it end? Marvel too have faced this same problem, with movies like Age Of Ultron and Thor: The Dark World falling into the realm of mediocrity thanks to its CGI fighting during the third act. There are exceptions of course, like Black Panther and Doctor Strange, and these little gems do help Marvel’s shine to continue.
The end of Marvel’s third phase bowed out an incredible 12 year journey on the big screen. Beginning with Iron Man back in 2008 and concluding with Avengers: Endgame, a certain viral outbreak helped pave the way for a new small-screen generation to step up.
With Disney changing its focus to more small screen efforts, WandaVision’s release felt like a breath of fresh air in the superhero genre. At least until the ending anyway.
Our central protagonist here is Wanda, whom we’re introduced to in a black and white sitcom with Vision. How? What happened? Is this an alternate universe? How is Vision still alive? And is there someone pulling the strings? These questions ultimately form the crux of the opening chapters, teasing some cliffhanger endings and wonderfully eerie reveals.
It’s here where WandaVision excels the most, keeping its card close to its chest and unwilling to show what’s really going on.
It’s not until the middle of the show where the direction shifts slightly, giving more clues and answers to what’s been happening. I won’t spoil anything here but suffice to say WandaVision is a unique hybrid of superhero and sitcom that’s unlikely to be replicated any time soon.
While we’re drip-fed tantalizing bites of exposition, the show also uses its episodic format to pay homage to sitcoms of old. Beginning with the Dick Van Dyke show, WandaVision moves through Bewitched, Malcolm in the Middle and beyond to give a sense of progression.
It would be easy to write these moments off as goofy gimmicks but as the excellent penultimate episode shows us, each of these serve a specific function in the overarching story. It’s this clever attention to detail, accompanied by a solid character-driven core that perhaps makes the finale so disappointing.
To use an analogy we’ve used on social media to describe this show – it’s like cooking the perfect quarter pounder and placing it between two stale buns. The finale is so predictable and laden in CGI that it discredits some of the earlier work done with this show. This is an ending we’ve seen a million times before and one can’t help but feel that for a show as cerebrally charged as this, it deserves something better than loud explosions and middling magic dueling.
Thankfully, both Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany are excellent in their roles as Wanda and Vision respectfully. With a longer format than a 2 hour movie, both actors are given much more time to flesh out their characters, and do so with some pretty emotional moments along the way.
Accompanying them are a host of supporting characters we meet along the way; colourful new additions that slot in nicely to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. At the center of this lie Monica Rambeau, Jimmy Woo and Darcy Lewis, who form a unique trio that never quite get enough screen-time together across these 9 chapters.
With an open ending, lots of potential for the future, and one CGI-heavy finale, WandaVision is a mixed bag of treats. For the most part, those treats are sickly sweet and moreish, but there’s a few in the bag that taste bland and overly sour. The result then is a positive step forward for the MCU but one tarnished slightly by a “been there, done that” ending.