Dreamlike Love: How Marvel's Wanda Vision Series Came Out
Culture,  Movies & TV series

Dreamlike Love: How Marvel’s “WandaVision” series turned out

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The first episodes of Marvel’s Wanda/Vision series, in which the superheroes Scarlet Witch and Vision live in the setting of classic American sitcoms and mow the lawn – instead of defeating another evil, have been released on Disney+. Why did Marvel need to go beyond the usual action blockbusters and whether this method works, Danylo Lekhovitzer analyzed.

We need a little refresher on the Marvel Comics genealogy tree. You probably remember the arch-enemy of the X-Men, Magneto – according to one version, he is the father of the mutant twins from the fictional European country of Sokovia, Pietro and Wanda Maximoff, aka Mercury and Scarlet Witch. Mercury was Marvel’s answer to DC’s Flash, while Wanda was something of an alternative to the witch Zatanna-except more powerful. Not so much by will, but during mental breakdowns and lack of control over her own powers, the Scarlet Witch could change the course of history, of reality, of creating a new one.

According to one tale, screenwriter Roy Thomas created the robot Vijn, perhaps specifically for the most famous superhero mesalliance: marrying an android, understandably unable to have children, to a witch who dreamed of getting into a Jane Austen novel – with children, marriage and preferably without encountering supervillains. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Vision appears as the minion of the super-machine Altrone, who has waged yet another-one-hundred-three-counting apocalypse. As is often the case with confused androids, Vision realizes that humans aren’t so nasty, so he joins the Avengers squad, which includes the Scarlet Witch.

You’ve probably seen this chart: in all parts of The Avengers, Captain America gets the most screen time, then Iron Man, then Thor, Hulk, Black Widow and so on down to Wanda and Vision at the bottom of the list. It was only a matter of time before the green screen with special effects and supervillains would be removed to show a true organic-mechanical love story. Admittedly, few thought the characters would be shoved into a sitcom.

Something like that had already happened. In the second season of “Mr. Robot,” Elliot (Rami Malek), an elite hacker and junkie struggling with the cold world of post-credit capitalism, falls from technocratic dystopia into a sitcom: the vertical of New York has turned into a smooth, warm coast, heroes and villains into giggling fools, hacking attacks into offscreen laughs and gags. Just thirty minutes into this pre-fun matinee, and Elliot is back to reality–for both he and the viewer to discover that someone has overdosed on drugs and is glitchy.

Marvel Studios / The Hollywood Archive / Legion Media

Short-circuiting reality recalls “Wanda/Vision” as well: a 4:3 television format, the superheroes live in a black-and-white paradise with a lawn and toaster in the Eisenhower Fifties. Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olson), aka Scarlet Witch, plays the Stepford wife, android Vision (Paul Bettany) puts on a human face in the morning and runs to work. She mixes dough with magic, he types a thousand words a minute on the job, and he’s also afraid someone will guess that he’s not a “composed carbon entity.” What’s not a phrase is a pun, what’s not a situation is laugh-out-loud funny, what’s not a neighbor is a collection of jokes in a skirt. Conscientious refuseniks, Wanda and Vision have long dreamed of leaving their superpowers to someone else to sit together on the couch and watch bath-foam commercials – well, and kiss with an endearing off-screen “oooooh.”

It’s already commonplace in the profile press to praise Bettany and Olson’s wonderful acting; the totally unexpected idea of deconstructing a sitcom; the fact that each episode is a little longer than the last and throws up more ominous hints about why the characters aren’t defeating a new evil but mowing the lawn (about that later); finally, that you can watch this both with a comic book-filled library shelf and without knowing a damn thing about the Marvel universe. The main thing is to keep in mind that the Chetas are superheroes, which any synopsis can handle.

At the very end of the first episode you belatedly realize that it would be really nice if all Marvel projects were like this one, at the end of the second one – whoa, why are superheroes bogged down in the fifties? What also remains unclear is how this rather radical by Marvel Studios standards, the beginning of the “fourth phase” relates to the previous ones – is it a flash-forward, a rest area between the upcoming epics or did the creators decide to go the very comic-book route of an alternate reality developing in parallel with the events of the previous blockbusters?

Marvel Studios / The Hollywood Archive / Legion Media

After living in the town of Westview for what seems like two days, Wanda and Vision slip into a computer glitch: there’s an odd, otherworldly draught in the couple’s cabin, a beekeeper crawls out of the sewers, commercials are sponsored by the Hydra organization (remember, supervillain Nazis), nine months of Wanda’s pregnancy flies by in a day, as if in between the phrases said by neighbors give off a second, ominous undertone. After watching less than half of the show, there is no doubt that the twelfth hour is about to hit and this curious marriage plot is about to become a blockbuster. This is a very subjective, perhaps a little more harsh than necessary, opinion: Marvel’s directors are not directors, but highly specialized people working with special effects and rendering; Kevin Feigy and the corporation long ago realized that the more expensive bang and bang, the more bang in ecstasy; the meaning of what happens can be fit into one comic book bubble; and that this meaning covers mostly those who were not there back in the 2000s.

All the more curious to watch, for “Wanda/Vision” is a test of attentiveness for those who have begun to squeeze superhero pads, a game of recognizing allusions and making non-trivial connections. For clues, a fan is not lazy to scour the comic book collection, a neophyte to go to Wikipedia. As a palimpsest, Wanda/Vision consists of references to previous installments of the franchise and subtle winks; as a project with calculated marketing, it invites audiences trained by previous Avengers installments as well as new audiences.

Marvel Studios / The Hollywood Archive / Legion Media

And yet, here are a couple of theories that did happen in the first three episodes:

  1. At the very end of the first episode, a sword emblem flashes. SWORD. – an offshoot of the SHIELD organization dealing with intergalactic conflicts and bad guys like Thanos; therefore, the American Pentecostal Eden will soon be replaced by outer space.
  2. This is one of those series in which, peering into your own screen, you need to peer into one more – the TV in the couple’s house. In one of the videos, they hint at Tony Stark’s bombs (they bombed Sokovia, Wanda’s homeland), and during commercial breaks they play Hydra products and a Stucker watch. If you remember, in the comics, Stucker was the name of the agent of “Hydra” who experimented on the Scarlet Witch.
  3. At a housewives club meeting, one of Wanda’s neighbors says, “The devil is in the details,” and the other, Agnes, whispers: “And not only in them.” In addition, Agness has a pet rabbit, Mr. Scratchy. In English, old Scratch, or old man Scratch, is called the Devil, for whom Mephisto is responsible in the comics. If you dig even deeper into the comic genealogy, you can find an issue where two sons are born to the Scarlet Witch and Vision, who turn out to be shards of the devil’s souls.
  4. After another dozen comic issues, it turns out that the memory of the sons taken from the couple will be erased by the witch and Wanda’s mentor Agatha Harkness. A neighbor from the TV series sprinkling with jokes about her husband and beer, Agness may well be her: Agatha + Harkness = Agness.
  5. Finally, Wanda Maximoff has always been an unreliable storyteller, hiding the truth not only from the reader / viewer, but also from herself: probably in one of the most famous comic arcs, “M Day”, she created a new reality, unable to control her powers after the experience parting with sons.

Here it’s important to remember the very same dose miscalculated and caught up in the sitcom Elliot: from somewhere very above, the writers are hinting in every way possible that the mowed lawn, American values and pink Jane Austen fantasies are essentially exactly the same glitch, but produced by the Scarlet Witch’s traumatized mind. The louder the subsequent episodes should probably detonate – with space, neo-Nazis and the devil (or are we wrong).

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