The second episode of WandaVision, the first Disney+ television series starring Marvel characters, opens with a recreation of the animated Bewitched title sequence from the late ’60s, but with superhero-couple Scarlet Witch and Vision. Why? Because she has altered reality to place her and Vision in TV Land, a world 50+ years removed from present day.
Despite the time gap, however, critics and audiences alike seem to love the references. NPR was impressed that, “Wanda and Vision’s home smashes together the Bewitched living room and the Dick Van Dyke Show kitchen.” Rolling Stone was smirking at how in the first episode, Vision phases through an ottoman that Dick Van Dyke Show character Rob Petrie used to trip over.
But who among the general audience actually recognizes these moments? And if we did, who would truly care? Is it really that exciting to see what Vision would look like if he were dressed like actor Dick York from Bewitched? Are mere re-enactments of shows that aired during the childhood of anyone currently over the age of 50 entertaining?
No, they’re not. And I refuse to believe everyone is having a great time watching them.
In the first episode, there’s 20 minutes of a deeply unfunny bit about the couple preparing dinner under a time constraint before the slightest hint that there’s something strange going on. The episode is only 22 minutes long.
The second episode, consists of Vision being scared by a tree branch rustling against the window. Later, he can’t perform in the community talent show because the gum he chewed has gunked up his robotic gears and made him “drunk.” We’re about 27 minutes in to this when a mysterious man enters the town and Wanda resets everything again. The episode is only 29 minutes long.
WandaVision is wasting our time, and that’s the point. In the music industry, there is a reason that albums are getting longer and longer. What used to be roughly 12 songs is now over 28, and it’s because artists want you to stream their content for the longest amount of time before “changing the channel.”
After billion-dollar films like Infinity War and Endgame, Marvel has us now. With ramifications of the series sure to carry over into future films and properties, we have to watch if we want to continue to understand what’s happening in their cinematic universe. They know we will watch WandaVision, and that’s why they’re not afraid to make its total runtime four-and-a-half hours long.
That doesn’t mean, however, that Marvel is infallible. WandaVision thus far has about 8-10 minutes of interesting plot. And I can assure you, that those 8-10 minutes are nothing to comic book readers who can compare WandaVision to the source material that this series is based on.
House of M, a 2005 comic book story written by Brian Michael Bendis (the creator of “Black Spider-Man” Miles Morales), similarly kicks off with Scarlet Witch warping reality to bring the deceased Vision and her unborn baby twins back to life. She does not, however, make reality the Dick Van Dyke Show.
Much like Wonder Woman 1984, I don’t know why we’re in the ’60s. In both cases, it is irrelevant to the plot and seems to solely play off audience’s love of nostalgia no matter what the context. Scarlet Witch can warp reality, so why go back in time, especially to a time she has never lived in? Her powers allow her to make Vision and her children alive right here, in present day, and in House of M, that’s exactly what she does.
In fact, Scarlet Witch is so dangerous in House of M that she fundamentally alters the entire planet because the Avengers decide they need to execute her in order to preserve reality. Instead, Disney and Marvel intend to wow us with “Vision looks like Andy Griffith!”
WandaVision just gave us an episode where Kat Dennings tries to explain to us what is happening using “science.” “I’m reading a colossal amount of CMBR, Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation,” she says upon immediately entering the facility. Agent Randall Park asks us, “So you’re saying the universe created a sitcom starring two Avengers?”
There’s going to be five more episodes of this.
What do you think? Drop your thoughts in the comments below.