When 2020 passed without a single Marvel Cinematic Universe release, fans were anxious for the next piece of the massive puzzle. The releases of and Eternals on the big screen were , while Disney+’s was pushed after production was halted during the pandemic. Then, at long last, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. WandaVision became the first MCU Phase 4 entry and, it should be argued, it’s also one of the strongest projects Marvel Studios has released yet.
Not only did WandaVision end the drought of MCU entries, but it’s helping to redefine what a live-action Marvel story can be. On one hand, WandaVision is a celebration of TV history, with different episodes paying tribute to different eras of family sitcoms–from 1950s shows like I Love Lucy to early-’00s favorites like Malcolm in the Middle. Each episode has painstakingly recreated the shows it’s inspired by, from the ridiculously silly special effects of old sitcoms to the fourth-wall-breaking moments of later eras, in which characters speak directly to the camera–not to mention a new era-appropriate theme song each week.
Beyond that, though, WandaVision is a story of loss, trauma, and coping with post-traumatic stress disorder. That’s surprising given the characters of Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) have more or less been third-tier players in the MCU. Now, they’re thrust to the forefront and given the kind of character development most of the MCU roster could benefit greatly from, telling a genuinely heartbreaking story.