New Show's Off To A Rocky Start: Should Disney Plus's Wanda-Vision Been Binge-able?
The much anticipated Disney Plus series Wanda-Vision has debuted to mixed responses from fans and new viewers alike. The show is the latest installment of the ever expanding Marvel Cinematic and Television Universe, and represents the first a many new titles that have fans excited for the future of the popular Disney Marvel MCU. Despite high hopes, the show may be demonstrative of how streaming shows rely heavily on binge watching, as opposed to weekly TV style viewing.
In 2020, amid COVID-19 concerns, fans were excited by teasers that showcased the new show’s quirky retro TV feel and the return to the screen of Marvel’s Wanda Maximoff portrayed by Elizabeth Olsen, and Paul Bentley’s Vision character, both first seen in the second Avengers film, “…: Age of Ultron.”
The mix of magic and superhero drama with the comedic settings afforded by 20th century situation comedy classics made the show feel new and despite its retro environments somewhat ground breaking in what many fans were certain was a doubling down on the promises of magical heroes like Benjamin Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange films.
While fans have no way to know if this is the case or not, many are finding the early episodes of the new series a bit too retro-comedic and far from the high paced adventure these same characters faced in their big screen debuts. It is hard to tell if the story will gain traction with Marvel fans, as it only has 2 episodes released, but many are hoping for an increased tempo in coming episodes, and some wish they had gotten more to judge by.
One fan wrote, “Wanda-Vision is the Dick Vandyke Show, and I have already seen the Dick Vandyke Show.”
Others have said they too have doubts after the first two episodes.
With a story that is almost certain to reveal some Marvel big-bads as well as some of the epic action sequences that both Marvel TV and film offerings have rested upon, perhaps the real problem isn’t with the story, but with the lack of story.
While each of the inaugural episodes contain a fairly familiar and self-contained sit-com storyline, and each finishes in the expected era appropriate manner, the MCU character and story teases are sparingly placed throughout each, and at this early date have little to do with the individual episode plots. This makes the show seem less like the epic serials that have been popularized on TV in recent years, and more like those retro shows to which in homages.
To fully appreciate this show, it is likely that a wider episode release would have helped. The second episode does leave viewers with a tease for coming adventure and fulfillment, but only at the very last moment, and according to many fans, it might not have been enough to bring everyone back week after week.
In a modern consumer viewership, that largely binge-watches such series on streaming services, the question remains: “If Disney Plus had dropped all or half of the episodes simultaneously, would that have made a difference?”
Such a release would have given some fans a couple more episodes to become re-invested in familiar characters, and invest themselves in newer characters, as well as a sense of impending conflicts and opportunities to sleuth their way into the giant speculative fan theory rabbit holes that so many pop culture enthusiasts have made an almost equal part of their fictional journeys.
One thing is certain, and that is that over the past 11 years, Marvel fans have become particularly discerning and have significantly raised expectations for the studio’s growing properties, and meeting the bar may be a lot to attain for film and television directors.