Having started out with cryptic episodes emulating old black-and-white sitcoms, “WandaVision” took chances and creative risks
that aren’t always feasible with one of its blockbuster brethren.
In addition, the show ultimately became a pretty profound rumination on love and grief, in the process turning its central character, Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), to if not quite the villain of the story an accomplice — certainly in the eyes of the people who became props in the elaborate world that she created to experience the life she had lost hope of achieving with Vision (Paul Bettany).
As it happened, there was a puppet master associated with that, Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn), whose goal was to first understand Wanda’s extraordinary power, then siphon it away from her. Yet as Agatha noted, “Heroes don’t torture people,” and the inherent selfishness of Wanda’s actions gave the entire run of the series a sense of moral ambiguity that only heightened its intrigue.
Of course, “WandaVision” wasn’t all pain and loss, incorporating a host of pop-culture and comic-book references, from the Halloween versions of their costumes to Wanda’s “brother” popping up in previous episodes to a very clever “The Wizard of Oz” homage in the finale.
Still, the series seldom veered far from its bittersweet qualities, with Wanda conceding to Vision that she would set things right, just “not for us.” Even that sacrifice couldn’t fix how she looked to the ordinary citizens swept into her fantasy.
The final scenes underscored what a terrific showcase this has been for the stars, Olsen and Bettany, allowing for a depth — including its detour into the Scarlet Witch’s origins — that the demands of a CGI-heavy blockbuster generally lack the time to explore as robustly. That bodes well, frankly, for enlisting other actors to sign up for these episodic offshoots.
Marvel being Marvel, the story naturally didn’t end there, with a pair of Easter eggs giving fans more to anticipate, though some patience will be required.
“I don’t understand this power, but I will,” Wanda said, after an earlier reference to the Sorcerer Supreme that points toward her appearance in the upcoming “Doctor Strange” sequel
. And as has been reported, fans can watch the skies for the return of Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau in “Captain Marvel 2”
after her close encounter.
Perhaps inevitably, the conclusion wasn’t quite equal to the build-up, but director Matt Shakman and writer Jac Schaeffer nevertheless delivered a formidable accomplishment overall, successfully launching Marvel into the streaming space in a way that showcases the vast array of possibilities that offers.
As she said goodbye, Wanda explained to Vision that he was “a memory made real.” Given Disney’s grand plans for streaming and Marvel’s role in them, the memories made by “WandaVision” should linger for a good long time.