MCU TV: Two Stars and a Wish
There is… no shortage of discourse on WandaVision, Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki, you can find it everywhere. So I’m just gonna speed through the three shows thus far, and give two things they did well, and one spot where they could have improved. Two stars and a wish.
Star: Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen have incredible chemistry. Everyone complaining the show was taking too long to explain things was missing out, because the early episodes where Wanda and Vision are simply living out classic sitcom shenanigans are hilarious. Then when the truth comes out, it gets gutting, because this show did what the franchise forgot to do between Civil War and Infinity War: invest us in these two as a couple.
Star: Kathryn Hahn was nothing less than spectacular as nosy neighbour Agnes/rival witch Agatha Harkness. Hahn crushed every moment of screen time she had, and I hope we see her again soon.
Wish: Some of you might think this would be about Recast Quicksilver turning out be actor Ralph Bohner, and not the way the X-Men were being folded into the MCU. No it isn’t. Having the X-Men franchise’s Evan Peters in the role was the only way to keep us as in the dark as to what was happening as Wanda. It works. No, our “wish” is elsewhere in the finale. The final big battle of the season took place between two witches with the ability to rewrite reality, and all they did was hadouken at each other until one of them lost. Sure Wanda using newfound knowledge of runes to tip the scales was a good move, but basically, that fight was a little basic for such an inventive show.
Star: Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan play very well off each other. The Sam/Bucky banter was every bit as good as we hoped based on their Civil War interactions, and their chemistry is strong enough that people complained they were queerbaiting. Which, no, two characters are allowed to have comedic chemistry and not bone, that’s a thing that happens. It could happen more with male/female pairings but it does happen.
Star: How good was Daniel Bruhl as Zemo? He’s long been one of Marvel’s best villains, and here as a necessary evil needed to take on the Flagsmashers he was one of the best parts of the show. It was almost throwing how much I liked him given everything he did last we saw him. Glad he’s still on the board; like Agatha, don’t throw away a great villain if you don’t have to.
Wish: There’s a generally accepted rumour that there was originally a subplot about a pandemic, and that’s why the Flagsmashers were stealing medicine and why Falcon, Winter Soldier, and the new Captain America were all out to stop them. If true, I can certainly understand why they cut it… but they kind of forgot to replace it with something. The Flagsmashers and their leader are very poorly developed, and that holds back the show, especially since unlike replacement Captain America John Walker they don’t get last-minute redemption for making one positive choice (boom, fit in a second complaint, beat the system!).
Star: Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is just as fun to watch as ever. Hiddleston’s not only funny, and can utterly land a dramatic speech, but just seeing him speed-run three movies’ worth of character development as he watches what happened to him between the end of Avengers and the beginning of Infinity War is a great moment. He sells Avengers-villain-Loki reaching the same place as end-of-Ragnarok-Loki just by seeing where his choices were leading.
Star: Sure the finale was 90% exposition, but man Jonathan Majors sold every bit of it. As He Who Remains walks us through why the Time Variance Authority exists, he reveals the dangers of shutting it down, possibly revealing what the new Infinity Stone arc is going to be. Majors gave a stunning debut of a character comics fans knew, while also, in my opinion, making the coming threat accessible for newbies. Well, newbies who get into this weird cosmic comic book stuff. The stuff Marvel TV That Was was afraid to use.
Wish: Loki and Owen Wilson’s Mobius buddy-copping through time looked to be really fun. Shame they dropped it after two episodes to switch to Loki/Sylvie as the main duo. Six episodes wasn’t quite enough time to build all the relationships the show hung on, and I wanted more Mobius. Well, there’s always next season.
And that’s all for now, see you soon as Best of Comic TV 2021 gets underway!
…I’ve had pithier closing statements, it’s true…