WandaVision first two episodes are out: Here's how to watch and what to know
Looking for WandaVision's first episode date? Here's everything you need to know about the retro-themed show, including early reactions.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
CNET freelancer Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Abrar Al-Heeti is a video host and producer for CNET, with an interest in internet trends, entertainment, pop culture and digital accessibility. Before joining the video team, she was a writer for CNET's culture team. She graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Though Illinois is home, she now loves San Francisco -- steep inclines and all.
ExpertiseAbrar has spent her career at CNET breaking down the latest trends on TikTok, Twitter and Instagram, while also reporting on diversity and inclusion initiatives in Hollywood and Silicon Valley.Credentials
Named a Tech Media Trailblazer by the Consumer Technology Association in 2019, a winner of SPJ NorCal's Excellence in Journalism Awards in 2022 and has twice been a finalist in the LA Press Club's National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.
The series stars Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany reprising their roles from the Avengers movies as superpowered romantic partners Wanda Maximoff (aka Scarlet Witch) and Vision. WandaVision, geddit?
No big spoilers ahead, but plenty of detail.
"It's gonna get weird," Olsen said at
. Numerous trailers and TV spots reveal what she means. The first two episodes Wanda and Vision as happy suburban newlyweds living in what appears to be a 1950s sitcom, but time travel takes them into the bell-bottomed 1970s and other decades. Buckle up, this show isn't going to follow a traditional timeline.
Official reviews are out, and critics seem to enjoy the quirky show.
Talk about timely
CNET critic Richard Trenholm thinks it's a fitting show for a very weird time in history, writing, "As many viewers remain stuck indoors, it's fitting WandaVision explores what happens when Marvel heroes go home, only to find that weirdness and danger lurk behind even the most ordinary front door."
Not your grandfather's superhero series
Joshua Rivera of The Verge notes that this isn't your traditional way to tell a superhero story. "(T)he way it is precisely the opposite of what we know Marvel movies to be ... makes it a perfect return," he writes. "It'll be intriguing for super fans curious about what the point is and how it might connect to the larger franchise, and it will be intriguing to those who might feel a little burned out on superheroes.
Works on two levels
And as smartly as the show delivers its homage to retro sitcoms, it's apparent something darker is lurking. "It's effective, this dedication to the tone, look and feel of the sitcom genre," writes NPR's Glen Weldon. "How else to explain why, despite knowing it's all an illusion, we find ourselves truly invested in the frippery of a given episode's ostensible plot -- Will Vision's boss be impressed when he comes to dinner? Will their powers get revealed? Will they win the town's talent contest? Etc."
Characters and plot
Wanda Maximoff, aka Scarlet Witch, first appeared in Marvel Comics in 1964 and has a complex history -- and a twin brother, Pietro/Quicksilver. In most comic stories, they were considered mutants, born with superhuman powers, and their parentage is complicated and ever-changing. Powerful X-Men foe Magneto first was said to be their father, but later plot lines juggled the family tree. The series reportedly will reveal why Wanda is also called "Scarlet Witch." No word on whether her twin will show up.
Vision has a very different background from his wife. He's obviously an android, but a very special one, with human emotions, and he's thus able to carry on a romantic relationship with Wanda and later marry her. While he's obviously an android in most depictions, one of the trailers shows him whirling round and his features settling in to a more human look, losing his red skin and acquiring human hair -- presumably so the neighbors aren't alarmed. (In what appears to be a Halloween scene, he gets to go out in his original appearance, fooling everyone into thinking it's just a great costume.)
At one point in the comics, the couple has twin boys, but WandaVision looks more inspired by a 2016 suburban-set comic series in which Vision is married to someone else and has a son and a daughter. Although the show doesn't start off showing Wanda and Vision with children, they're likely in the offing.
Till death do us part
Vision has a sad ending in the Marvel big-screen movies, but he's obviously a major part of WandaVision -- viewers just don't know how. Some are speculating the sitcom-style perfection portrayed in WandaVision is all a dream she has to resurrect her husband and live a normal life. And in one preview scene, Kathryn Hahn's character, dressed as a witch, tells a shocked Vision he's dead. But comic books love alternate realities and different universes, so there's no real way to know.
Get ready for all kinds of retro sitcom cliches, as the show appears to jump around from decade to decade. 1950s scenes dominate the previews, with Wanda in a satin gown and pearls doing housework, while Vision suits up and heads off to work. But there are also 1960s hippie threads, 1970s wild colors and hair, and even 1980s aerobics. If you know your classic sitcoms well, you'll be sure to pick up numerous homages -- one scene shows a home interior that looks a lot like the Brady Bunch house, and in another, Vision and Wanda have twin beds à la I Love Lucy, which they quickly push together.
Ads and other Marvel Easter eggs
About halfway through each episode, you'll see a retro-styled commercial for a fictional product. Pay attention -- these ads aren't just to keep the theme going. The products hint at a darker storyline and remind longtime Marvel viewers of Wanda's troubled past. The show is also packed with other Easter eggs nodding to Marvel's lengthy comics history, with the good news being, you don't need to be a Marvel scholar to enjoy the show as it is.
Weekly episode drops
The show is now streaming on Disney Plus, the $7-a-month streaming service that features a vast catalog of new and legacy shows and movies. It premiered with two episodes at once, with the third episode airing a week later on Jan. 22. It will run for nine episodes total.
The first episode features a Brady Bunch/Patty Duke Show-style sitcom theme song, the kind that explains the plot each episode in case you just woke up from a Thanos-style snap and need to know who these people are. Sound catchy? It should -- it's written by Oscar-winning Frozen songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, who also wrote unique songs for several episodes, spanning from the 1950s to the early 2000s.
Lopez says in a press release that director Matt Shakman is a college friend and that the couple was thrilled and challenged to mix "the bright feeling of American sitcoms" with "the deep sense of unease" found in WandaVision. Do Wanda and Vision want to build a snowman? It doesn't have to be a snowman.