A bit on the late side, but here we are!
Following the climax of the Infinity Saga and ‘Phase 3’, the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) decided to take over the small screen. Sure we’ve had forays with Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter, but both of those – the former in particular – suffered by being kept very separate from the movies, to the extent that it almost didn’t make sense, plotwise (biggest threat humanity’s ever seen, in the world of the Avengers, but no Avengers?).
This criticism was either taken on board, or it just happened that the ongoing story of at least a few of the characters was decided better-told in tv rather than movie format. For our first foray (although I read that, pre-covid disruptions, the plan was for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier to air first) we pick up with Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany), as one of the more unlikely couples – what with him being an AI brain in a constructed body, and all.
I have spoken to someone who knew next to nothing about the 23 (!) movies that precede this, and apparently you do pick up enough of the background to enjoy it, but it’s hard to suggest that the intention is to pick up with the characters and their stories. Is it a spoiler, then, to say things had not ended well for the pair previously? In fact, the whole premise rests on the fact that Wanda is emotionally traumatised, and then some. She’s lost, over the course of the movies and before, her parents, her brother, and her beloved. She’s also been experimented on by Hydra, and is now a contender for the most powerful Avenger.
But as we open the show, Wanda is a 1950s housewife, Vision is very much alive and well, and oh yeah, everything’s in black and white.
There is an absolute joy in how ‘out there’ the showrunners were willing/allowed to go with this series, especially in the early episodes. Each takes a decade, and apes a selection of famous sitcoms of the time period. I’m not really up on US comedy enough to have spotted most of them, but there’s another bit of fun if you are.
For me, the mystery of what’s really going on had me absolutely hooked. From the start, there are growing glimmers of things not quite being as they seem, and clues as to what’s really afoot. And then – eee, should I say? Okay, hopefully no spoiler to say that eventually we get a glimpse of what’s been going on in the world, post-Endgame, and the series starts to tie back in, strongly, to the movies.
The sense of quirkiness dissipates a little by the end, as things become more Marvel-esque, but there are still twists and mind games, a few familiar faces, and all sorts of ‘aha!’ moments along the way.
Recommended, for MCU fans at least. Apparently the next movies won’t assume that you’ve seen this, which I’m glad about, but at the same time this is just so much fun – and a bit heartbreaking, too – that you’d probably want to watch it anyway!
First broadcast: January 2021
Episodes: 9 @ ~27-40 mins each
My rating: 9/10