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Review: WandaVision S1E9 The Series Finale

WandaVision S1E9 The Series Finale

*Warning: Minor spoilers for WandaVision S1E9 The Series Finale*

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has often had trouble sticking the landing. The first two acts might be great but the third and final falls into a punching extravaganza that focuses on special fx delivering spectacle. For much of its run, WandaVision has focused on the characters delivering an intriguing look at trauma and an attempt to deal with it. “The Series Finale” wraps things up delivering some emotion but is bloated by the expected spectacle.

The episode brings things together with Wanda and Agatha facing off in a battle of magic while the military does its best to take Wanda down with their own Vision.

About two-thirds of the show is that literal battle. Two witches squaring off and two Visions squaring off. There are some great visuals but overall it feels like something we’ve seen before. There’s nothing particularly memorable visually (like Ant-Man‘s shrunken fight) or different (like Doctor Strange‘s repeat and irritate). Instead, we get hand waving and magical energy flung around with lasers and punching thrown in. For a show that has done something so different for eight episodes, the landing is for the most part not spectacular for the majority of it.

What WandaVision has done great is focus on its story. That’s clear in the finale as it wraps things up. So many theories, expectations, clickbait rumors plagued the show’s run but in the end, the show kept its focus. It didn’t go for a real big bad. Its conflict was within one individual. Anything else would be an insult to those who experience trauma. It also knew there were expectations and played with them and that becomes evident in this episode when the truth of Pietro is revealed. There’s a meta wink and nod to it all, a tease by creators that I’m sure will continue for some time. It’s a reminder that the writers and creators behind the scenes are in charge, not fandom and speculation and the creators have no problems playing with that.

Though much of “The Series Finale” delivers yet another battle, the last quarter of the episode delivers heart. It’s an emotional ending that’s hard to not appreciate. That last fifteen minutes or so nails it perfectly as the episode forgoes the spectacle and gets back to its traumatic, emotional, roots. In many ways, it delivers the anti-Avengers: Endgame. It rolls back what was snapped into existence. The fabrication crumbles. And Wanda is left with facing her reality. And it’s clear she’ll be facing a negative reaction. Though she sacrificed a lot, the town is rightfully and understandably angry with her. They were impacted by the manifestation of her emotional trauma. It places Wanda’s future, and those of the other MCU heroes, in an interesting and complicated spot. The show continues the recent years’ exploration that being a hero is complicated and not all of it good.

While “The Series Finale” is a bit mixed, it closes this chapter and sets up a lot to come. It presents the reality that for those that enjoy the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you’ll need to experience the television shows as well as the films to get the whole picture. The series will have a lasting impact on the MCU, just not in a way the clickbait lead you to believe it would.

Overall Rating: 7.0

Review: WandaVision S1E6 All-New Halloween Spooktacular!

WandaVision S1E6 All-New Halloween Spooktacular!

WandaVision S1E6 All-New Halloween Spooktacular! picks things up after the last episode’s surprise appearance of Pietro, Wanda’s brother. The big surprise being that this Pietro is the one from the Fox “X-Men Universe”, not the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The series is now fully in the 1990s with a Halloween episode.

The episode is the usual goofy plot you’d expect from this sort of episode at the time with Pietro using his speed powers to cause chaos and Tommy and Billy talking directly to the camera.

But, the episode is about the small moments and the attempt for Wanda to recognize her trauma. She and Pietro discuss their time in Sakovia and their hardship. There are also some digs in the fact that this isn’t the MCU Pietro, “something is different”. That also leads to a great joke about Evan Peters and Aaron Taylor-Johnson both appearing in the comic-based film Kick-Ass. There’s also a comment about Monica Rambeau’s changes going in and out of the “hex” and changes happening to her, hinting at her future.

It’s the breaking of Wanda’s control that’s the real interesting aspect of the show. Pietro is aware of what’s going on and Wanda is “writing” the show. Vision spends his time examining what’s going on and trying to figure out what to do next. We also get to see the extent of Wanda’s powers as things begin to fall apart a bit and glitches in individuals within the town become clearer. Billy and Tommy also break barriers not just by displaying powers but also being aware of Vision’s predicament. It’s all adding up to show that while Wanda controls a lot, it’s clear her grip is slipping and she doesn’t have control over everything.

This is an episode that delivers a lot of “what’s to come”. Wanda shows off the extent of her powers even further and we get to see some more resistance to her control in multiple ways. It sets up characters for their roles much further down the road. It teases a lot of things that might come. It also delivers a lot of winks and nods to things in the past. “All-New Halloween Spooktacular!” is a “bridge” in what’s to come not just for the series but the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole and continues to set up Wanda as a major player on multiple levels.

Overall Rating: 8.0

Review: WandaVision S1E5 On a Very Special Episode…

WandaVision S1E5 On a Very Special Episode

WandaVision S1E5 On a Very Special Episode is a difficult episode to review. The impact, not just on the series but on the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, is huge. After the last episode’s focus outside the bubble, we’re back to the world that Wanda has created. In the sitcom world, the episode is now in the 80s. It delivers the cold opening of shows of the time, fashion, and.. the cheesy aspect as well.

Not too long into the show, we learn that Wanda isn’t the only one aware of the situation she’s created. The walls she’s created are starting to crumble with more individuals “waking up” as to what’s happening. The “very special episode” is one in multiple ways. There’s a plotline about the twins getting a dog and then losing it. But more important is the relationship between Wanda and Vision and Wanda and pretty much everyone else. The “comedy” becomes more of a drama… really a horror story.

“On a Very Special Episode” begins to split the show between inside and outside the bubble. While we got glimpses of the “real world” in the first three episodes and the fourth was mainly in it, this one bounces between the two. It’s a blend between a more traditional Marvel show/film and the original format of the initial episodes. By doing so, we get a better sense of what is going on, what lead up to it, and the greater implications. Wanda is no longer the center of a comedy, she’s the center of a horror story.

This is the episode where the wall begins to break. Gone are the glitches. In their place are individuals who clearly know all is not right with the world that Wanda has created. It’s an awakening. On the outside, we have a better sense of who the “threat” is and how much of one there is. The implications are massive.

This is the episode that is clearly going to drive the narrative for the Marvel Cinematic Universe for many years to come. The indication is that Wanda is far more powerful than anyone expected making her more in line with her comic counterpart. What this means for the MCU is staggering and by the end of the episode… we’re not going to spoil it here. Lets just say this will reverberate for many years to come of storytelling.

While we’re currently in “Phase 4” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “On a Very Special Episode” will impact further films to come and many phases to come as well. It’s a shockwave through the Marvel multiverse and made this show one of the most important releases so far in Marvel’s plans.

Overall Rating: 10

Review: WandaVision S1E4 We Interrupt This Program

WandaVision S1E4 We Interrupt This Program

WandaVision S1E4 We Interrupt This Program delivers a new perspective on what’s going on in Wanda’s world. The episode opens just after the return of individuals after the Blip. We’re re-introduced to Monica Rambeau, the daughter of Maria Rambeau introduced in Captain Marvel. She’s now all grown up and we learn she works for S.W.O.R.D. S.W.O.R.D. is an organization teased up to this point but has had a major impact in the Marvel comic world.

The episode is a fascinating one. It takes us through the events of WandaVision from the perspective of Monica, Darcy Lewis (a returned Kat Dennings), and Randall Park‘s Jimmy Woo. The previous episode hinted as to what’s going on. This episode gives us the big picture of what’s being dealt with. The mystery becomes a bit more clear. It’s also definitive that Wanda is controlling things. But the how and why isn’t answered beyond hints that it’s due to the trauma she’s experienced.

We Interrupt This Program is the example of why individuals should wait and let serialized storytelling play out. It explains so much, such as the laugh track and the first three episode’s comedy homage. We get to see it all play out and explained as Darcy and Jimmy attempt to figure it all out as well. It’s the puzzle pieces being put together episode.

But, what’s really solid is that the characters roll with the wonder and strangeness of it all. Things aren’t explained away. Some of the answers are “what the hell”, these smart characters know about as much as we do. But, even with those questions, the big picture is so much clearer. And, it does all of this sci-fi while also delivering a solid sense of humor as well.

This is the episode where the picture becomes much more clear. We get a better sense of what’s going on inside the bubble and on the outside. It also brings the episode into the greater fold of the Marvel Cinematic Universe by re-introducing characters and formerly introduces a major organization in the Marvel world. This is the episode where the series begins to go in a more “traditional” direction and we get to see the bigger picture of its impact going forward. It’s a key episode that should make frustrated viewers happy and those “in the know” even more excited.

Overall Rating: 9.5

Review: WandaVision S1E3 Now in Color

WandaVision S1E3 Now in Color

WandaVision S1E3 Now in Color brings the moment so many are waiting for, the debut of Wanda’s “children”. Now taking place in the 1970s the couple is expecting their first child. Wanda “became” pregnant at the end of the previous episode. Now in color, the episode takes its inspiration from shows like The Brady Bunch and Laverne and Shirley.

With her being pregnant, Wanda’s powers are on the fritz. This causes issues for not just the couple but for all of those around them. It also is destroying the barrier that Wanda has clearly set up in this world.

Now in Color plays on pregnancies in television. There are the usual jokey pratfalls and laugh tracks over the situation. There are also some subtle nods to covering up pregnancies with objects around a house like a bowl of fruit.

As someone who grew up watching The Brady Bunch every day after school, the details of the set nail the nostalgia factor and makes me long for a trip to Hawaii with a cursed Tiki idol. Or maybe they can start a band. Above all, the show’s design, costumes, hair and makeup stand out above the quality writing and acting. The vision (no pun intended) of the show is spectacular. For technical reasons alone, the series is must-watch television.

Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany do a great job of delivering the jokes and situation continuing to both send-up and do an homage to shows of the times. Their delivery of the material is solid in that somewhat cheesy way for the shows it takes its inspiration from. Both have much better comedic chops than I’d have expected. Their usually serious demeanor helps enhance the comedic bits.

Teyonah Parris ups her presence on the show playing the role of getting caught in the delivery and having to help Wanda. Those who know who she’s playing and who her character actually is will enjoy the layered meaning of what she has to say.

And again, it’s the small details of the episode in that all is not right that really makes things. On the surface, the riff on classic shows works really well. The fact not all is right is really what’s interesting. From an issue with a wall to a statement by their doctor, the big picture continues to come together. And it comes together in a big way as the wall really begins to shatter by the end of the episode.

The show has improved with each episode as the big picture comes better into focus. While I wasn’t too keen on the first episode of WandaVision, by the third I’m all in and want to see where this goes as to what’s going on becomes much clearer. It leans more into the concept of this world’s glitches building on the mystery. We don’t just know not all is right, we see it. A scene is rewound and played back, for instance.

This is a big episode as it has major implications to the Marvel Cinematic Universe going forward. Fans of Marvel Comics will be filled with excitement and know the future possibilities. For those that don’t, strap in, this could be a wild ride.

Overall Rating: 8.95

Review: WandaVision S1E2 Don’t Touch That Dial

WandaVision S1E2

WandaVision S1E2 continues its play off of the classic series Bewitched with an episode that has Wanda and Vision entering a talent show.

Compared to the debut episode, WandaVision S1E2 is much more intriguing. While it acts so well as an homage to classic television, it delivers more of what was lacking in the first, the hints at something more. In a black and white world, we get a colorized toy. A radio plays odd music and an odd message. It’s the small details that were missing from the first episode. Their inclusion enhances the experience. The lack of them in the first episode hints at a purposely slow build and reveal but that also means it’s a slow build and reveal. With the good comes the bad.

Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany continue their excellent takes on classic characters. In this case, Bettany does the drunk individual coming close to revealing their two secrets. It’s a great switch of classic stories where Samantha was almost discovered as a witch.

But, it’s the small details of the episode where it works really well and shines.

The classic cartoon style is fantastic. The introduction of Teyonah Parris as Geraldine is fantastic. The line delivered in her introduction is so layered and done so well. It’s a prime example the show is smarter and more thought out than it’s quirky premise would have you believe.

WandaVision S1E2 is an improvement of the start in so many ways. Wanda is clearly trapped in this world but is it something someone is doing to her or is it a creation of her own? This episode throws that big question out there and there’s some massive implications.

Like I said in the review of the first episode, this is a series whose whole will likely be better than the individual parts but this part is pretty damn good on its own.

Overall Rating: 8.5

Marvel Studios Releases New Details on Hawkeye, Shang-Chi, Captain Marvel 2, Armor Wars, Ironheart, Secret Invasion… and Fantastic Four!

During the Disney investor presentation, numerous announcements were made as to what to expect from Marvel Studios over the next years. Numerous first looks were released and updates to movies, television shows, and a whole lot of reveals.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has wrapped its production. The film is in theaters July 9, 2021.

Brie Larson will return as Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel in Captain Marvel 2. Nia DaCosta will direct the film and Larson will be joined by Iman Vellani, the new Ms. Marvel, and Teyonah Parris who will play Monica Rambeau. Parris will debut as the character in WandaVision.

Captain Marvel 2 will fly into theaters November 11, 2022.

Hawkeye is currently filming. Jeremy Renner returns as the character and will be joined by Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop.

Additional cast include Vera Farmiga, Fra Fee, and newcomer Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez, with episodes directed by Rhys Thomas and directing duo Bert and Bertie.

Tatiana Maslany is now confirmed as Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk… and Tim Roth is joining her!? Roth returns as the Abomination. Mark Ruffalo will also appear on the Disney+ series. It will be directed by Kat Coiro and Anu Valia.

Moon Knight is confirmed though no more details have been released.

Samuel L. Jackson is back as Nick Fury in the Disney+ series, Secret Invasion. Ben Mendelsohn will return as well as the Skrull Talos.

Dominique Thorne will step into the armor as Riri Williams in Ironheart! The character is coming to a series soon on Disney+.

Ironheart and… Armor Wars!? Don Cheadle suits up again as James Rhodes, aka War Machine. The classic story comes to the small screen of Disney+ as Tony Stark’s fear of his tech falling into the wrong hands comes true.

Hopefully it’ll be as much of a trainwreck as the Star Wars special, but in 2022 we’re getting The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special directed and written by James Gunn. You’ll be able to watch it on Disney+.

I am Groot! Baby Groot will get a series of shorts on Disney+.

Christian Bale has officially joined the cast of Thor: Love and Thunder as the villain Gorr the God Butcher. This will have a major impact on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thor: Love and Thunder comes to theaters on May 6, 2022.

Peyton Reed will return to direct the third Ant-Man film, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, and Michelle Pfeiffer all return. Kathryn Newton joins the cast as Cassie Lang and Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror.

And… the Fantastic Four are coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe directed by Jon Watts!

Marvel’s WandaVision Comes to Disney+ on January 15

It’s been announced that the original Marvel Studios television series WandaVision will debut on Disney+ on January 15.

The series stars Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany and is the first Marvel Studios series to debut on Disney+. In it, Wanda Maximoff and Vision are living an idealized suburban life but begin to suspect that everything is not as it seems.

Joining Olsen and Bettany are Kat Dennings, who reprises her role as Darcy Lewis from Marvel Studios’ Thor and Thor: The Dark World; Randall Park, who reprises his role as Agent Jimmy Woo from Ant-Man and The Wasp; and newcomers Kathryn Hahn, who plays their plucky neighbor, and Teyonah Parris, who plays the adult Monica Rambeau, who was first introduced in Captain Marvel. The series is directed by Matt Shakman.