Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase Four Re-Watch. Wandavision, part 1

It’s been a year since I last did a rewatch, ending Phase Three with Spider-Man: No Way Home. Now that the Infinity Saga is over and Thanos has turned to dust, our surviving heroes have moved on… with various degrees of success. Phase Four incorporates both Cinematic releases and television programs. For the television programs, I am limiting each article to three episodes each

Title:  Wandavision

Characters created by:  Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Roy Thomas, John Buscema, Roger Stern, John Romita Jr., Feldstein, Joe Maneely, Allan Heinberg, and Jim Cheung.

Returning characters (for the series):  Wanda Maximoff, Vision, Jimmy Woo, Maria Rambeau, Monica Rambeau, and Darcy Lewis

Episode one: “Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience”

Director:  Matt Shakman.

Writer:  Jac Schaeffer 

US Release Date: January 15, 2021

Summary: Newlywed couple Wanda Maximoff and Vision move into the town of Westview, New Jersey, during what appears to be the 1950s. They attempt to blend in, despite Vision being an android and Maximoff having telekinetic abilities. One day they notice a heart drawn on a calendar but cannot remember what it signifies. Vision amazes his co-workers at Computational Services Inc. with his speed, but is unsure what the company actually does. Their neighbor Agnes introduces herself to Maximoff, and the pair conclude that the heart represents Maximoff and Vision’s anniversary. Agnes helps Maximoff prepare for the occasion. Vision’s boss Mr. Hart reminds him that Maximoff and Vision are hosting Mr. Hart and his wife for dinner that night, which is what the heart on the calendar actually represents.

That night, Maximoff and Vision struggle to hide their abilities while making a last-minute dinner for the Harts, with help from Agnes. As they sit down to eat, the Harts ask Maximoff and Vision about themselves, but the couple are unable to explain where they came from. Mr. Hart grows furious and chokes on his food, at which point the episode’s sitcom format subsides. Vision uses his powers to remove the food from Mr. Hart’s throat at Maximoff’s request. The sitcom format returns and the Harts thank Maximoff and Vision for dinner before leaving. As Maximoff and Vision reaffirm their love for one another, these events are revealed to be occurring on the fictional sitcom WandaVision that someone is watching using 21st-century technology.

MCU Continuity Nods:  Wanda calls Vision’s head “indestructible.” His head was broken open by Thanos in Infinity War. The Stark Industries ToastMate 2000 toaster oven has a blinking red light that hints at the weapons used to bomb Sokovia and kill Maximoff’s parents as revealed in Avengers: Age of Ultron. The “Sokovian greeting” Wanda gives to Mr. Hart, putting her hands in front of his eyes, is similar to the gesture she made to Tony Stark in Avengers: Age of Ultron to make him hallucinate. 

Easter Eggs: The wine served at dinner is called “Maison du Mépris” which, translated from French to English, means “House of Contempt.” There is also a large M on the neck of the wine bottle, which may refer to “House of M.” 

Music:“A Newlywed Couple”, the episode’s theme song was composed by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. Scoreby Christophe Beck

Episode two: “Don’t Touch That Dial”

Director:  Matt Shakman.

Writer:   Gretchen Enders

US Release Date: January 15, 2021

Summary: In a black-and-white 1960s setting, Wanda Maximoff and Vision hear strange noises outside their house. The next day, they prepare their magician act for a neighborhood talent show to help them fit in with the neighbors, before Vision attends the neighborhood watch meeting with the male neighbors. Maximoff sees a colorful toy helicopter outside the house, but is distracted by Agnes, who invites her to a women’s gathering hosted by Dottie Jones, the snooty leader of the neighborhood. There, Maximoff befriends Geraldine.

The men in the neighborhood watch meeting welcome Vision, who accidentally swallows a piece of gum that is offered to him. Vision’s android system is unable to digest the gum, and it causes him to become “intoxicated”. Maximoff speaks with Dottie after the gathering, and a voice calls out to her through a radio asking her who is responsible for causing her situation. Once again, she is distracted as Dottie asks who she is before the radio breaks and Dottie’s glass shatters. She bleeds in color but quickly ignores this event.

When the “intoxicated” Vision arrives at the talent show, he inadvertently reveals his superpowers. Maximoff uses her own abilities to make Vision look like he is performing simple magic tricks. Their performance is well received and they are awarded Comedy Performance of the Year by Dottie. When they return home, Maximoff inexplicably becomes pregnant. As she and Vision are about to celebrate, they hear the noise outside again and walk out to find a beekeeper climbing out of the sewers. Disturbed by this, Maximoff “rewinds” the events on-screen to her pregnancy reveal and the world around them suddenly changes to a 1970s color-filled aesthetic.

MCU Continuity Nods: In Wanda and Vision’s house, the wall between the living room and kitchen has a faded drawing of a castle on a hill. It is the Sokovian castle from Avengers: Age of Ultron. A commercial during the WandaVision program advertises Strücker watches with the Hydra logo on them.

Easter Eggs: When the Vision gets ready for work, the helmet of the Grim Reaper can be spotted on the bedroom floor, alongside some bones. When Wanda is shopping, there is an advertisement for Bova Milk. In the comics, Bova was a sentient cow who raised Wanda and her brother Pietro in their childhood. At Wanda and Vision’s house there is a statuette of the Whizzer on a table. In the comics, the Whizzer was a super fast superhero thought to be Wanda’s father in the comics for several years, who was killed off in the comic “The Vision and the Scarlet Witch”. The stage names used by the Vision and Wanda in their magic show are “Illusion” and “Glamor.” Illusion and Glamor were the stage names used by the stage magician couple Ilya and Glynis Zarkov, who were neighbors of Wanda and the Vision in the comic “The Vision and the Scarlet Witch.”

Music: The episode’s theme song, “WandaVision!”, was written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.

Episode three: “Now in Color”

Director:  Matt Shakman.

Writer:  by Megan McDonnell

US Release Date: January 22, 2021

Summary: During what appears to be the 1970s, Vision and Wanda Maximoff, who has become visibly pregnant in a remarkably short timeframe, has her condition checked by Dr. Nielson, who gives Maximoff a clean bill of health and prepares to leave with his wife for a vacation to Bermuda. While Vision sees Nielson out, he sees his neighbor Herb cut through the concrete wall separating their driveways.

Maximoff and Vision build a new room for the baby and debate what to name him, with Maximoff favoring the name Tommy while Vision prefers the name Billy. Maximoff’s pregnancy accelerates rapidly, and her powers go haywire, causing her to accidentally generate an energy surge that shuts down power across Westview. While Vision rushes to get Dr. Nielsen, Maximoff is visited by Geraldine. Maximoff unsuccessfully tries to hide her pregnancy before going into labor. She gives birth to twin boys with Geraldine’s assistance.

Dr. Nielsen implies that his vacation was an attempt to escape from Westview. Vision catches Herb and Agnes gossiping, and they ask Vision about Geraldine. Herb attempts to tell Vision something about their situation, but Agnes stops him and reveals that Geraldine does not have a home or family in Westview. Maximoff interrogates Geraldine after she reveals that she knows Maximoff’s twin brother Pietro was killed by Ultron. Maximoff notices that Geraldine is wearing a pendant with a sword emblem on it.

Vision returns to the house to find that Geraldine has disappeared, and Maximoff explains that she “had to rush home”. Outside Westview, Geraldine is cast out from a wall of television static that borders the town and is surrounded by S.W.O.R.D. agents.

MCU Continuity Nods: This episode marks the first mention of Wanda’s twin brother Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver since his death at the hands of Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron. It also marks a brief return of Wanda’s Sokovian accent. This is also the first appearance of S.W.O.R.D.

Easter Eggs: In the title sequence, the pictures are presented in hexagons. In Scarlet Witch’s early comic years, her powers were stated to be “hex powers” that could cause random and unlikely events to take place. This enabled creative freedom to the writers, as it actually meant that her powers could be used for any purpose required by the plot.

Music: Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez wrote and performed the theme song “We Got Something Cooking.”

My Take:  What I really appreciate about these first three episodes is the effort to imitate the look and tone of the sitcoms from the 50s-70s. Using various techniques that were researched on how special effects were shot in those eras.