If they stick the landing, WandaVision could well be the best thing Marvel has ever done
The finale of WandaVision lands this Friday.
First things first, when we say Marvel in that title, we mean the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and we're including this show in the MCU, before you wade into the comments to point all of that out to us.
And secondly, SPOILERS.
Okay, so, before we get too deep into it, yes, those first two episodes were... shaky. Or, at least the very least, they were at the time. There was a sinking feeling initially that Disney+ and Marvel had made a massive tonal misstep with WandaVision, but having recently rewatched all eight episodes again ahead of the finale, they definitely take on a different vibe.
It is only on through the almost clips-show delivery of "Previously On..." do we fully appreciate the relentlessly grim life that Wanda Maximoff has endured to date, and those first two and a bit episodes take on a completely new meaning; an incredibly hurt woman trying to find solace the only way she knows how.
WandaVision is a deep dive on grief and loss, delving into a much more complicated emotional spider's web than we're used to from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sure, there have been some incredibly emotional scenes through the MCU's 23 movies to date - Thor reuniting with his mum in Endgame, Peter Parker's fearful goodbye in Infinity War, everything to do with Meredith Quill in Guardians of the Galaxy - but they're usually punctuation points in between huge action set-pieces.
Here, the emotional turmoil is the point, the riddle still being solved at the centre of the show's mystery box plotting. Also, while some of the MCU movies have sorta-toyed with genres here and there, WandaVision leans heavily into sitcoms (obviously), but also creepy thrillers like The Twilight Zone or The Prisoner, with the usual, almost-militaristic glean of Marvel's regular output there as some occasional background dressing.
While there is so much throughout the show for the biggest of Marvel fans to spends hours online trying to decipher, none of it would have stuck if we didn't care about our central protagonists, and it is here that WandaVision truly shines. Elisabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany pin the entire thing together, giving us without a doubt the most romantic and believable relationship in MCU to date, their natural and easy chemistry through the decades an absolute joy to watch. In later episodes, when Olsen finds herself in the middle of her own psychological horror being replayed out in real time, her traumas piling up on each other, she carries the entire thing peerlessly.
Outside of The Hex, the quality of performances are no lower; Monica could've been a dull, run-of-the-mill tough-as-nails agent, but Teyonah Harris imbues her with an innate charm and vulnerability, also linked to Monica's losses being paralleled to Wanda's.
Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) and Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) provide the brilliant comic relief throughout, while Director Tyler Hayward (Josh Stamberg) managed to believably jump from caring superior to boo-hiss bad-guy without wandering into OTT territory.
And then there is Agnes...
... AKA Agatha Harkness, played to perfection by Kathryn Hahn. Fans of Hahn will have known how brilliant she is ever since she was stealing scenes in Anchorman, Step Brothers, and Parks & Recreation, but WandaVision has brought her immense talents to a much wider audience.
Going from the overly-helpful, nosy neighbour sitcom stereotype to full-on Marvel villain, she's been successfully capable of changing from hilarious to threatening in the blink of an eye, and it makes perfect sense that she has become the internet's favourite person off the back of her role here.
But now, here we are, just a few days away from the end, and it feels like WandaVision still has so much to do.
We've known that it will likely be setting up the scenario behind both Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, as well as likely linking into upcoming Disney+ and Marvel shows like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki.
But there is a lot of WandaVision's own story still left to be told, especially since the very end of the second-last episode decided to introduce another character! (Sort of...)
There is a lot riding on the the ending to this, but if they pull it off, WandaVision could well be the best thing that Marvel has ever done.
The finale of WandaVision airs on Friday, 5 March.