Episode 655: At the End, There’s Going to be a Portal

On the Overthinking It Podcast, we tackle “WandaVision,” a new show streaming on Disney+ which takes the MCU into the land of classic sitcoms.

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Matthew Belinkie, Peter Fenzel, and Matthew Wrather watch and overthink the first two episodes of Marvel’s WandaVision. What kind of show is it? What is the show within the show? What is the show outside of the show? What is really going on? What is this genre? What does it have to do with college theater productions and with The Aeneid? Our conspiracy theories will astonish you.

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3 Comments on “Episode 655: At the End, There’s Going to be a Portal”

  1. Three Act Destructure #

    In a mid-2010s pitch meeting: “Okay, it’s the entire Bible but Mother Earth is a character and she’s a housewife desperately trying to get God’s attention!… oh, well, did I mention that I can get Jennifer Lawrence to star?”

    I think that one of the interesting qualities of how Marvel and DC have structured their comic book universes is that they can include all of the different stages of a genre at once. Their audiences expect Captain America, Wolverine, Deadpool and Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan) to all be in the same panel together.

    That’s something which the Marvel movies have been better at capturing (as alluded to in the podcast) and I think that that helps to answer where we’re at right now: everywhere. All at once and maybe for the rest of our lives.

    Although I do think that it’s worth mentioning that Black Widow and, I think, The Eternals, were supposed to have released before this. So the plan for the stakes and the tone was originally different. As well as the format, actually. It’s not just the stakes which have gotten smaller.

    But this does work in a strange way. A meta show stepping through the history of television feels appropriate for a project which is introducing a cinematic universe to streaming (we’ll forget about all of the semi-canon shows for now).

    Also, I just wanted to say that Lore is a pretty fun podcast.


  2. Jay #

    I was worried we wouldn’t get a show this week. I kept refreshing the page yesterday.


  3. John C Member #

    One of the problems I had with the two episodes was hinted at in the discussion, with examples of what this is like: Despite the mantra in coverage that the episodes are “pitch perfect” (“for the children,” I guess), they felt more like broad 1990s parodies of 1960s sitcoms–consider the “what does this company do?” discussion or the Kathryn Hahn character–than actual 1960s sitcoms, so that combined with the “you figure out what the mystery is and get back to us” angle makes me feel like they just don’t really care about the show beyond the flood of not-really-Easter-eggs-because-you-don’t-need-to-hunt-much-for-them Easter eggs.

    That obviously isn’t true and the first couple of episodes of any show are rough, but I wanted it to either be more sincere or more character driven, to draw us in, rather than taking it as given that we’re going to be hooked because there isn’t much else on. As it stands, I’m watching it because the cast is talented (Elizabeth Olsen is great at comedy, even keeping up that exaggerated accent) and giving this everything they have to make it work.

    The genre issue is interesting, though, because I’ve been feeling for a while that the problem with “superhero movies” is that there isn’t actually a “superhero” genre, except whatever version of “bitten by a radioactive spider and learns not to be a jackass” is appropriate to the character. I feel like the diversity of the newer DC movies should lend itself better to crossovers, because you’re seeing subjective, unreliable views of the world in solo stories and (hopefully) less stylized approaches when the characters are together. It just fails, when you start with the crossovers and hand it to someone who’s obsessed with his own style. For the MCU, just about every movie (though this has been changing) is mostly “Jason Bourne needs to stop the terrorist, but in costume,” and that mostly works, except that they need to keep escalating the stakes to keep the heroes together and add to their ranks.

    Where DC completely fails, though, is that the movie people have a fundamental misunderstanding of what a shared universe is. They clearly think it’s about getting to the big crossover to pack in more digitally-enhanced fisticuffs, whereas it needs to be about established characters from different backgrounds getting to know each other, where that could take the form of a coffee date or dealing with an alien invasion.

    Anyway, I like the trend to moving a lot of the MCU story to television. One of the problems with the capital-e Event movies is that the script needs to convince us that all the changes to the status quo since the last movie are either unimportant enough to be explained away in a line of dialogue or so obvious that it’s not worth asking what happened. The Events also don’t give enough time to get to know any of the characters. With TV, though, they can use the comic book model: Characters have ongoing books where you get to know what they’re going through, and then the “summer crossovers” bring them together to do something important.


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