Within the 13 years since Iron Man first hit theaters, Marvel Studios has established fairly effectively its capacity to nail a big-budget popcorn film. The proof, exterior of gargantuan field workplace numbers, is correct there in those Avengers: Endgame audience reaction videos that circulated final spring; Marvel’s obtained the most effective motion scenes within the superhero recreation, and it’s been repeatedly thrilling followers with that stage of spectacle for greater than a decade.
And but, with WandaVision — the studio’s very first TV collection, premiering Friday, Jan. 15 on Disney+ — Marvel’s confirmed, maybe surprisingly, that it might nail a unique format fully: the traditional sitcom. In truth, the primary three episodes that I’ve seen comprise not one of the regular Marvel trappings — no combat sequences, no CGI villains — and the result’s an intriguing, recent, genuinely pleasant deviation from what we’ve come to anticipate.
WandaVision, because the title suggests, stars Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany as their respective Marvel Cinematic Universe characters. (Among the many present’s many mysteries is how Imaginative and prescient may even exist right here, given his demise in Avengers: Infinity Warfare, however Bettany assures us that will be solved.) For causes which can be unclear however presumably ominous, they’re the protagonists of their very personal sitcom; every episode pays homage to beloved comedies from a unique decade, all whereas sustaining an undercurrent — for each viewers and the 2 major characters — of, “Say, what’s actually occurring right here?”
It’s uncommon to come across a TV present that is still pleasurable regardless of how little data it offers the viewers. The primary three episodes supply solely hints of what’s behind Wanda and Imaginative and prescient’s bizarro universe, but it stays compelling within the meantime. WandaVision so completely encapsulates the retro sitcoms it’s honoring that whilst you’re determined to know what’s actually occurring, you possibly can’t assist however enjoyment of its major characters’ earnest, old-timey antics. (That stated, I’ve to marvel if the present would have been higher suited to a binge launch, relatively than a weekly one — although it’s apparent why Marvel and Disney+ would need to wring weeks’ price of discourse out of this present.)
Anchoring the collection’ uncommon premise are glorious, utterly dedicated performances from WandaVision’s solid. Bettany is a gem, bringing a captivating goofiness to Imaginative and prescient that he hasn’t been in a position to showcase within the MCU movies, whereas Kathryn Hahn (Clear) and Teyonah Parris (Survivor’s Regret) shine as Wanda and Imaginative and prescient’s new, and nosey, buddies in Westview.
However the present actually belongs to Olsen. In channeling sitcom legends like Lucille Ball and Mary Tyler Moore, the actress delivers as fearless and dazzling a comedic efficiency as these icons earlier than her, punctuated by Wanda’s wide-eyed fear that one thing isn’t fairly proper along with her actuality. Olsen beforehand wowed us in her most up-to-date TV challenge, the now-cancelled (and underrated) Sorry for Your Loss, and it’s a deal with to observe her showcase so many expertise right here.
As with all Marvel challenge, WandaVision is primarily designed with MCU followers in thoughts, although informal viewers can roughly bounce proper in with no prior data. (Everybody on this present is confused, too, in order that helps.) However don’t let the present’s outside-the-box strategy fear you: Sure, WandaVision is in contrast to something Marvel has accomplished earlier than — but it surely seems that’s an excellent factor.
THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE: That includes magnificent performances and spot-on sitcom homages, WandaVision is an enormous swing from Marvel Studios that’s as pleasurable as it’s dangerous.