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Marvel Tesseract

REVIEW: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier – Episode 1

by @holocronJosh for @mar_tesseract

Warning: This review contains spoilers for The Falcon and The Winter Soldier – Episode 1

“How does it feel?”

“Like it’s someone else’s.”

The final words exchanged between Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson hold weight and are explored more deeply in the debut episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Fresh off of the season finale of WandaVision, the highly anticipated second Disney+ series from Marvel Studios premiered this week with a solid, albeit slow start. 

The episode, titled New World Order, kicks off with a relentless action sequence that feels like it’s straight out of an MCU film, once again showing the cinematic qualities of the series released on Disney+ so far. The action is fast paced and reminiscent of some of the more bandheld work seen in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Speaking of that film, it’s a cool little parallel to see both Cap and Sam fight Batroc at the start of their respective projects. The sequence seems to last just a tad too long, but it serves as a great, tension-filled jumpstart to the series.

Perhaps a little unusually, however, that ends up being the only real action sequence of the whole episode. After his escapades in the Middle East, Sam repairs his tech and heads back to Washington, D.C., where he gives away the Cap shield to the U.S. government, believing that it would be put in a museum. This scene gives us the first surprise cameo of the show, as Rhodey (Don Cheadle) enters and he and Sam have an important conversation about taking up the Captain America mantle. Like the first scene of the episode, Sam’s internal conflict regarding his worthiness for the shield and title of Captain America shows and affirms that this thread is the most interesting part of his screentime in the premiere debut. He feels that being Cap is too much pressure and that he won’t be able to live up to Steve Rogers’ heroics, thus believing that the only way forward is to retire the mantle all together. This inner conflict is one that is ripe for a TV show, and is bound to be explored in later episodes of TFATWS. With the total runtime of the series expected to be around six hours, that’s a lot of time for Sam’s conflict to truly be explored and, ultimately, resolved. There’s a lot of potential here with this, although the premiere only touches the surface of Sam’s decision.

Unfortunately, the other Sam-centric content in the episode falls a little flat. It was inevitable that Sam was going to be given quite a bit more characterization in this series relative to his role in the MCU films, but none of it is particularly captivating, especially for a premiere episode. Sam’s relationships with his sister and her children, in addition to attempts to save the family business, are explored in a manner that really isn’t too gripping. It’s unique to see an Avenger like Sam taken out of the battlefield and into his personal lie, where the audience gets a look at him in a way we haven’t before. And it’s unique to see an Avenger do something as seemingly menial as going to the bank, but it ultimately results in a series of choppy, unadventurous scenes in which the audience is left wondering where it’s going or what effect this plot will have on the show overall. 

Meanwhile, as the title suggests, the other half of the episode focuses on Bucky Barnes, aka The Winter Soldier. Similar to the episode’s approach to Sam, there is a very purposeful, slow-paced tone employed to highlight Bucky’s life beyond the battlefield. Bucky is seen dealing with the guilt of his past and his work with Hydra, waking up from a dream which sees him raid a public space and kill everyone in his vicinity (a scene beautifully reminiscent of his endeavors as the Winter Soldier in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America; Civil War). Bucky visits a therapist later in the episode, another example of a hero doing a regular, everyday task. Although he denies having a nightmare, his horrific acts still weigh on his mind as he woke up in such a fright and even goes as far to befriend Mr. Nakajima, an older man whose son Bucky killed in the past, and is one of many on a list of individuals that Barnes hopes to make amends with. The scenes with Mr. Nakajima and Bucky really highlight the latter’s humanity and just how far he’s come in this universe. The audience really gets inside Bucky’s head in these scenes in a manner more interesting than Sam’s so far. It’s difficult to not empathize with Bucky as his guilt is so palpable. It was always assumed that he had this feeling of guilt in Civil War, Infinity War, and even Endgame, yet those movies had so many other moving parts that they were unable to truly focus on what was going on inside Bucky’s head. In TFATWS, the audience can really see his guilt and conflict, along with the way in which he’s trying to make amends. Overall, Bucky’s scenes are the best parts of this episode. 

Towards the end of the episode, there is a tease of what is to come, as Sam communicates with a military colleague named Torres (who fans may recognize from the comics) seen earlier in the episode who outlines a bank robbery in Switzerland that was committed by a group of serial thieves. This is bound to come up again this season, and the set up is interesting enough to keep the audience’s attention. Also at the end of the episode, a new Captain America is revealed, played by Wyatt Russell, which only adds to Sam’s internal conflict. Mackie delivers the best acting episode of the episode in this scene, as he conveys complex emotions of regret, grief, loss, and fear all in a single moment without saying a word. 

Overall, New World Order is an unexpectedly slow-burn of an inaugural episode. The premiere largely serves as a check-in with these two Avengers before we get into the meat of the show. Given that TFATWS is only six episodes, it’s slightly surprising to see the first chapter start slowly, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It gives the creators’ time to introduce the individual arcs for the two title characters, in Sam’s decision to hand over the shield and Bucky’s guilt about the lives he’s taken. It’s just a shame that the episode isn’t a bit more gripping and a bit less choppy.

Verdict: 7/10

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier gets off to a solid start as it reintroduces us to Sam and Bucky, while providing new looks at their backstories. Although the episode struggles to find its footing, it provides enough interesting set-ups to have us eagerly awaiting next week’s installment. 

Images Courtesy of Disney+ and Marvel Studios

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Marvel Tesseract

What to Watch Before The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

by @holocronJulie for @mar_tesseract

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is nearly here. This week, the highly anticipated second Marvel Studios series will debut on Disney+. But, before that, we’re here to showcase what to watch in preparation for the next installment of the MCU:

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

This film introduces many of the characters and plot elements that will be carried into TFATWS. The new series will go in depth into the legacy of Captain America, including his successor, Sam Wilson, and/or US Agent. So, going back to watch the second of this trilogy is a good idea heading into Friday. This film also marks the first appearance of Wilson alongside Sharon Carter, and reintroduces fans to Bucky Barnes, this time under the alias The Winter Solider.

Captain America: Civil War

Civil War is the conclusion of the Captain America trilogy and deals with Bucky’s problems head on. Barnes is said to have committed a series of terrorist attacks in Europe, which leads to a continent wide manhunt, yet was actually framed by Baron Zemo, a Sokovian psychologist whose family was killed in the final battle of Age of Ultron. Zemo appears once again in TFATWS, and seems to be the main villain of the series, this time sporting his iconic purple mask from the comics. Zemo has a grudge against the Avengers and used Bucky to get revenge, so the events of Civil War are bound to come up in the new show. This is also the first time we really see the rapport between Bucky and Sam. Their back and forth in Civil War is hilarious and captivating, particularly during their altercation with Spider-Man. 

Avengers: Infinity War

Infinity War is the first of two truly game changing films in the MCU. The world is forever altered at the end of Infinity War, in which Thanos snaps his fingers to kill off half of all life in the universe, including Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes. Infinity War provides some great Falcon and Winter Soldier moments, giving us a preview of what is hopefully to come with the Disney+ series. 

Avengers: Endgame

Endgame is the conclusion of the Infinity Saga, and the film that says goodbye to Captain America after he’s reunited with Peggy Carter. TFATWS will deal with the fallout of Cap’s choice to go back in time, and will also directly address his decision to give the shield to Wilson, making it essential viewing before Friday.

Images courtesy of Marvel Studios and Disney+

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Marvel Tesseract

Kingsley Ben-Adir to Play Villain in Secret Invasion

by @holocronJosh for @mar_tesseract

Kingsley Ben-Adir has been cast in the upcoming Marvel Studios Disney+ series ‘Secret Invasion’, according to Deadline. Ben-Adir is expected to play the villain of the show. Ben-Adir is perhaps best known for his role as Malcolm X in One Night in Miami, an awards contender this year. 

Ben-Adir joins the cast that also included Samuel L. Jackson and Ben Mendelsohn. Jackson will be reprising his role as Nick Fury, the character he’s played since Iron Man in 2008. Mendelsohn returns as Skrull leader Talos, who was first seen in Captain Marvel. 

Secret Invasion appears to be an adaptation of the comic book storyline of the same name, in which the Skrulls, who are villainous in the source material but well intentioned in the films as Captain Marvel unexpectedly revealed, secretly infiltrate Earth and adopt the identities of many of our heroes. The Disney+ series is scheduled to begin filming later this year.

Source: Deadline

Images courtesy of Marvel Studios and Disney

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Marvel Tesseract

Highlights from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Press Conference

by @holocronJosh for @mar_tesseract

Sunday saw the cast and crew of Marvel Studio’s latest project, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, assemble for a press conference in which they revealed new details about the upcoming Disney+ series. As always, Kevin Feige was there to speak about the show, along with stars Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan, director Kari Skogland, and writer Malcolm Spellman. 

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is led by Anthony Mackie, who’s character Sam Wilson was given the Captain America shield at the end of Avengers: Endgame. At the press conference, Mackie discussed his character’s evolution from when we first saw him compared to now: 

“The idea of Sam Wilson, he’s always evolved in the world of the Marvel comic books and now he’s evolved in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If you remember when Sam first started out, he was a hustler, and as African American culture evolved, Stan Lee evolved him into different iterations of himself. I’m excited for the world to see the new and improved version of Sam Wilson.”

Sebastian Stan, the series’ other lead, also discussed his character: 

“I’ve spent 12 years with the character,” Stan says. “You grow and evolve with the character…I felt like we had established the character a certain way…then we had to go into this and go, ‘Alright, well, what is he like now?’ Part of that was us honing in on his sense of humor so to speak…that came into the tone of the series and his dynamic with Sam Wilson and my own dynamic with Anthony and then marrying the two…We’re really finally kind of zooming in on his quest for identity and in terms of just really accepting his past and re-educating himself about the world that he’s currently in.”

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier differs from most MCU projects, bar WandaVision, in that it’s a show rather than a film. However, Skogland highlighted that she approached the series as if she was making a movie:

“I approached it like a film. From the beginning, we were making a six hour film and just figuring out where to snip it at the certain hour marks…I look at a lot of different influences to help me put it into a box. I looked as crazy as David Lee or Midnight Cowboy so I really go very wide and then put it in a pot and stir it and come up with something that is uniquely signature for our look.”

As fans will know, the MCU differs in tone depending on the characters in focus. For example, the Ant-Man films are generally more humorous and light in nature than the Captain America trilogy. Screenwriter Spellman discussed this topic, saying: 

“There was about a 12 second moment in Civil War where it feels like every single Marvel fan knew that [Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan] were gonna be able to support a movie or a franchise. [The Falcon and The Winter Soldier has] the buddy two-hands genre, [and] what we loved about them is the range, tonally, is you can go from as gritty as 48 Hours to as funny as Rush Hour…it allows Sebastian and Anthony to do what they do and create that magic.”

Despite the series not even premiering yet, fans have been wondering if there will be a second season. Feige addressed these questions, saying: 

“It’s a funny question and it’s one that we obviously get asked much more in television because people expect it to be like what people know before. We really did approach it like we do the movies…if we were able to do another one, there’s certainly ideas. The slight difference of course…like with WandaVision, they really will go back and forth between the Disney+ series and the movies…sometimes will be a Season 2, sometimes will be a feature.”

Finally, the cast and crew were asked about the potential for reveals in the show, a natural question given the surprises in WandaVision, in particular the appearance of Evan Peters. Mackie played coy on this topic, but did give a bit of insight: 

“Yes, there are many surprises. We can’t say who they all are but there are many surprises.”

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier premieres on Disney+ on March 19. Stay tuned to Marvel Tesseract and SW Holocron for continued coverage of the series!

Images Courtesy of Disney and Marvel Studios. Press conference quotes courtesy of Comicbook.com and Deadline

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Marvel Tesseract

What’s in Store for the Marvel Cinematic Universe after WandaVision?

by @holocronJosh for @mar_tesseract

Warning: Spoilers for Chapter 9 of WandaVision are included in this article

With “The Series Finale,” WandaVision ended with an emotional farewell, in which Wanda was forced to part ways from her husband and two children, along with the the fantasy world she created for her family. Despite these events, this won’t be the last time we see Wanda Maximoff, or the Vision, for that matter. Here’s what’s to come for these characters – and the larger MCU at hand.

The Falcon and The Winter Solider – Premieres March 19 on Disney+

Just two weeks after the WandaVision finale comes the next Disney+ series from Marvel Studios, titled The Falcon and The Winter Solider. This show, which seems to be in the vein of a political thriller like Captain America: The Winter Solider, stars Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Daniel Brühl, Emily VanKamp, Wyatt Russell, and Erin Kellyman, and picks up after the events of Avengers: Endgame, in which Steve Rogers hands over the Cap shield to Sam Wilson

Black Widow – May 6, 2021

Marvel fans have had to wait a long time to see Black Widow, the Scarlett Johansson let prequel film set prior to the events of Avengers: Endgame (and the title character’s death). Originally set to premiere in May of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the film several times, yet it’s now scheduled for release on May 6, nearly exactly one year after the original release date. With the pandemic still at large, many fans are apprehensive about Black Widow meeting its current release date. However, given the decrease in cases in the U.S., along with the increase in vaccinations, the reopening of movie theaters in New York and (soon) Los Angeles, and the hybrid Disney+/theatrical model that Disney have opted to go with for Raya and the Last Dragon, fans should still have hope that this May finally sees the release of Black Widow. Along with Johansson, Black Widow features Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, David Harbour, and O.T. Fagbenle as the villainous Taskmaster.

LokiJune 11, 2021

The God of Mischief returns in his own Disney+ show, aptly titled ‘Loki’, which premieres this summer on the streaming service. While not much is known about the plot at this time, fans can look forward to the return of Tom Hiddleston as the lead hero, along with new recruit Owen Wilson. This series is written by Michael Waldron, who recently signed an exclusive deal with Disney and was tapped to write Kevin Feige’s upcoming Star Wars film.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage – June 25, 2021

Tom Hardy’s Venom is finally getting a sequel film, scheduled to release this June. Directed by Andy Serkis, perhaps best known as an actor for his roles as Gollum in Lord of the Rings and Supreme Leader Snoke in Star Wars, Hardy is joined by Woody Harrelson as the infamous serial killer Cletus Cassidy, who turns into Carnage, one of the most famous Spider-Man villains.

Shang Chi and the Legend of the 10 Rings – July 9, 2021

The second Marvel film scheduled to release this year is Shang- Chi, starring Simu Liu in the lead role. Chi is a martial artist superhero that will go up against the real version of the Mandarin. Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, the cast also includes Awkwafina, Tony Leung, and more.

What If…? – Summer 2021

What If?, the animated project coming from Marvel Studios, is highly anticipated by fans and is set to arrive this summer on Disney+. Some of the storylines include Peggy Carter receiving the super serum rather than Steve Rogers. What If? will mark the last appearance of Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther after his tragic passing in August of 2020.

Ms. Marvel – Late 2021

Ms. Marvel will follow the adventures of Kamala Khan, a Pakistani American teenager who develops shapeshifting, elasticity, and healing powers. Khan will be played by newcomer Iman Vellani, and will be seen in late 2021 on Disney+.

Eternals – November 5, 2021

Marvel fans should be extremely excited about the second film set to release this year, directed by Chloe Zhao. Zhao, who also wrote the movie, won big at this year’s Golden Globes, taking home the Best Director award for drama films. Zhao is also the favorite to win best director at this year’s Academy Awards

Hawkeye – Late 2021

Another Disney+ show, Hawkeye sees the return of Jeremy Renner in the MCU, alongside another archer, Kate Bishop. Bishop will be played by Hailee Steinfeld.

Spider-Man: No Way Home – December 17 2021

No Way Home is arguably the most anticipated project currently in development at Marvel Studios. The third entry in Tom Holland’s Spider-Man trilogy will feature the return of Alfred Molina as Doc Ock and Jamie Foxx as Electro, and seems to be the first live action Spidey movie to feature the multiverse. Rumors are rampant that Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield will also appear as their respective Spider-Men in the film as well. No Way Home will be exclusively released in theaters this December.

As you can see, there’s a lot in store for Marvel fans in the future and we’ve just covered 2021! Stay tuned to Marvel Tesseract for more coverage of everything Marvel coming soon.

Images courtesy of Marvel Studios, Disney+, and Sony

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Marvel Tesseract

REVIEW: WandaVision – Episode 9

by @holocronJulie for @mar_tesseract

WARNING: The following review contains spoilers for WandaVision – Season 1, Episode 9: The Series Finale

After eight episodes of a heartbreaking and unique tale, WandaVision came to a conclusion with a largely satisfying, if not slightly underwhelming final chapter. The Series Finale picks up where Previously On left off as Wanda must protect her family and fend off against the villainous Agatha Harkness, while Vision is pitting against his doppleganger. 

The Series Finale highlights an unfortunate reality of allowing one’s expectations and theories to run away with themselves. The first several episodes of WandaVision were filled to the brim with mystery and intrigue – unlike anything we’ve ever seen in the MCU or even comic book adaptations more broadly. In turn, the ominous tone and lack of details provided to the audience sparked much speculation among fans regarding what was truly lurking beneath the surface. The mysteriousness intensified even further when Evan Peters reprised his role as Pietro Maximoff from the Fox-backed X-Men films in truly surprising fashion. All of this culminated in an expectation that WandaVision would conclude in an unbelievably surprising manner, seamlessly setting up the future of the MCU in Phase 4. And that wasn’t really the case. If anything, The Series Finale cemented the extent to which WandaVision ultimately excelled as a profoundly emotional tale of grief and coping, rather than the insidious mystery it initially felt like. And this isn’t necessarily a criticism of the show as a whole – just a point that changes the way in which WandaVision is ultimately construed as.

WandaVision follows the pattern of virtually every superhero project in culminating in an action-packed finale. In fact, much of The Series Finale was dedicated to a fast-paced, CGI-heavy final battle between the titular characters and the show’s villains. Director Matt Shakman handles the action well in a series that has largely been absent of such sequences. 

The battle between Vision and his SWORD-conjured doppelganger clearly drew inspiration from Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel and, as such, was captivating from beginning to end. But, akin to much of WandaVision’s finale, the most gripping parts were not when punches were being thrown, but when words were exchanged. The Ship of Theseus discussion was probably the most ‘Vision’ has felt like Vision in the entire MCU so far. This, coupled with the discussion on grief in Previously On, showcases the emotional depths WandaVision often hit and why this is such a highlight in the series. However, it was a bit jarring to see White Vision suddenly depart and not be seen again in the episode, but it’s clear that we haven’t seen the last of Vision in the MCU.

The Scarlet Witch was jaw-dropping in The Series Finale. Wanda has often been tipped as one of the most powerful characters in the entire MCU and this power has never been as glaringly evident as it was in this episode. Wanda’s new look as Scarlet Witch is superb and evokes the brilliance of her design in the comics, while fitting perfectly into the aesthetics of the MCU. Wanda’s showdown with Agatha was brilliantly executed and teases a more significant role for Agatha in future projects. Once again, Elizabeth Olsen knocks it out of the park with her complex, nuanced performance, somehow simultaneously conveying strength and vulnerability in such uncanny ways.

A major shortcoming of WandaVision’s finale, however, was how several of the series’ central characters felt rather shortchanged, with their plotlines and arcs appearing unresolved. Although the series obviously follows the escapades of Wanda and Vision closely, the trio of Monica, Darcy, and Jimmy became a fan favorite over the last several weeks. Not only did these characters offer a certain groundedness to the rather abstract nature of the series’ initial episodes, but they each had their own interesting involvement in the central plot and unique points of characterization. That’s why it was a shame to see these three characters’ roles greatly reduced in the series finale. Obviously, the focus should primarily be on Wanda and Vision, but it would’ve been nice to conclude the journeys of Monica, Darcy, and Jimmy in a more fitting fashion.

This criticism carries over to how The Series Finale addresses the Pietro / Fietro mystery. Evan Peters’ shocking mid-season appearance was one of the highlights of the entire series, so to see this twist unexpectedly fizzle out was quite a disappointment. Although we expect Peters to appear as Quicksilver again in a future MCU project, it just didn’t feel right that no explanation whatsoever was provided as to why the character looks like the version we saw in the X-Men films. The ‘reveal’ that Pietro was the Ralph that Agatha referred to throughout the season just didn’t really land and felt quite underwhelming.

Ultimately, however, The Series Finale excelled the most when it explored the show’s principle theme – grief. While Previously On showcases how grief crippled Wanda, The Series Finale showcases Wanda’s reconciliation with grief and her ultimate sacrifice to relinquish her perfect world. It’s hard not to shed a tear as we see Wanda say goodbye to Vision yet again, except this time it’s on their own terms. 

Verdict: 7.5/10

WandaVision capped off an incredibly impressive season with an emotional, albeit slightly misguided concluding episode. Although the arcs of beloved side characters felt unresolved and the episode was largely deprived of the mystery and intrigue that made the initial episodes so great, The Series Finale emphasized what a brilliant exploration into the processes of bereavement and reconciliation WandaVision has been.

Images courtesy of Disney+ and Marvel Studios

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Marvel Tesseract

REVIEW: WandaVision – Episode 8

by @holocronJosh for @mar_tesseract

WARNING: The following review contains spoilers for WandaVision – Season 1, Episode 8: Previously On

“What is grief, if not love persevering.” Vision’s poignant line in Previously On encapsulates the complex themes and raw emotions explored in this week’s heartfelt episode of WandaVision. Previously On lives up to its title in providing a touching trek through Wanda’s trauma-filled past, while offering insight into the origins and motivations of the series’ villain Agatha Harkness. 

This week’s episode marked a departure from the established structure of the series by shifting away from the sitcom elements and the adventures of Monica’s team, instead opting for a more intimate focus on the show’s lead. Indeed, Previously On was an emotional roller-coaster to say the least. Not only to see the horrors Wanda has experienced in her life, but to watch our titular character relive them was both disturbing and touching in an uncanny way. The beautiful moments with the Maximoff family highlight what could have been for Wanda and Pietro, in addition to (finally) explaining the sitcom influence on the Hex.

The pinnacle of the episode’s touching sequences, however, came with a conversation between Wanda and Vision at the Avengers Compound. In the MCU films, little time is actually spent on Wanda and Vision’s relationship, relative to the grander plot mechanics at work. As such, we only get to see glimpses of their intimacy and love for one another in the films. WandaVision has elevated the Wanda-Vision bond immensely, perhaps most evident in this scene in Previously On. Wanda’s grief and turmoil is palpable, truly brought to life by yet-again another stunning performance from Elizabeth Olsen. Paul Bettany deftly plays Vision as he captures the robotic nature of his character, while conveying such empathy and care for a woman he is beginning to love. This scene more than any other emphasized the strength of Wanda and Vision’s relationship and, in turn, the immense grief Wanda felt upon losing Vision.

Coupled with its series of touching moments, Previously On was filled to the brim with revelations and explanations. In fact, it’s quite commendable that the writers and director were able to assemble an episode that packs in so much emotion, while simultaneously delivering so much information in a manner that feels natural and not like an exposition dump. The explanations/revelations kick off with the episode’s first scene, showcasing Agatha Harkness’ evil origins. A departure from the comics, we see Agatha be punished for the misuse of her magical powers by her fellow coven members, before she unleashes her dark magic upon them and kills them all. After last week’s revelation that is was “Agatha All Along,” (the song is still stuck in our heads), Agatha’s true motivations were uncovered in Previously On as it was revealed that she infiltrated the Hex to learn how Wanda managed to wield such extraordinary power and create this world. While we’re not exactly sure what Agatha wants to do upon learning Wanda’s power, we suspect she’s up to no good.

With the emotional moments adding layers to Wanda’s character, so did the reveal that Wanda had latent abilities. Although not explicitly stated, Avengers: Age of Ultron suggests that Wanda and Pietro acquired powers upon HYDRA experimentation, which, as revealed in this week’s episode, is only partially true. Wanda had some predisposition to magic powers, before these abilities were enhanced by an infinity stone. This definitely changes the way we view Wanda throughout the series and also has implications regarding inborn abilities of human characters. Are Wanda’s innate abilities suggestive of her being a mutant? Are other people around the world like her in sharing unique powers? 

The episode’s concluding moments set up WandaVision’s season finale perfectly. After various films and episodes, we finally get our first mention of Wanda’s superhero title – The Scarlet Witch. It appears that this is some type of prophesied, legendary powerful being that Agatha believes Wanda is. The brief visual preview of Wanda in her classic Scarlet Witch costume was one of the series’ most impressive visuals yet and has us excited for the time when we get to see this costume in the flesh. 

Akin to last week’s episode, we once again got a post-credits scene this week, adding yet another layer of complexity to things. All Wanda wanted to do was grieve in peace in this artificial world she conjured, but she can’t achieve the peace she desires for multiple reasons. While Agatha poses a mystical, superpowered threat, Hayward and SWORD are a more technological menace as we see the live-action debut of White Vision in Previously On. This sets the stage nicely for the episode to come as we’re likely to see a Vision vs. Vision battle, in addition to the resolution of the conflict between Agatha and Wanda and a set-up for upcoming MCU films.

Verdict: 9/10

After last week’s somewhat stuttering episode, WandaVision returned with a bang with Previously On. Delivering the series’ most emotionally impactful and intimate moments yet, episode 8 also pulls the curtain back on what’s going on behind the scenes in terms of Wanda’s past, Agatha’s motivations, and the nature of Westview. All of this set the stage nicely for next week’s finale.

Images courtesy of Disney+ and Marvel Studios

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Marvel Tesseract

REVIEW: WandaVision – Episode 7

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

WARNING: The following review contains spoilers for WandaVision – Season 1, Episode 7: Breaking the Fourth Wall

It was Agatha all along. Amidst an expertly executed, intriguing plot twist, we can safely say that episode 7’s concluding song will likely be stuck in our heads for weeks to come. WandaVision continued in good form this week, plummeting viewers into a modern sitcom a la The Office or Modern Family. As Monica and her team try to safely defuse the situation inside the Hex, Wanda begins to grow disillusioned and Vision teams up with Darcy, all while an ominous threat operates in the background.

Compared to the last few episodes, Breaking the Fourth Wall seemed to stutter a bit in terms of its pacing and sitcom-leanings. Regarding the latter, the feel of a documentary was well executed in simulating shows like The Office, but made the episode feel at times choppy and stop-start. The edits, handheld camera movement, and monologues spoken directly to the camera (hence the episode’s title) simply don’t work as well as when WandaVision has leaned into aspects of sitcoms from other eras.

Similar to episode 6, Breaking the Fourth Wall balanced three central characters this week in Wanda, Vision, and Monica, but this time with varying degrees of success. This may be due to the fact that, at barely over 30 minutes without credits, the episode doesn’t quite linger long enough on any one character or storyline. Indeed, when the episode draws to a close, it leaves you wanting more, partly due to all that the show does well, but also because the episode felt as if it needed more meat on the bones. 

This isn’t to say, however, that WandaVision didn’t yet again deliver a really entertaining, intriguing, and ominous episode. Vision’s team-up with Darcy was interesting and led to a lot of good banter and back-and-forth dialogue. The concept of a character like Darcy recapping the events of the Infinity Saga to Vision was funny, especially as we saw Vision try to put the pieces together and Darcy downplay the stakes and severity of the Snap. The journey of Monica this week wasn’t as enthralling as previous weeks, despite Teyonah Parris’ excellent performance as the character. The mysterious emergence of Monica’s powers, however, make for an intriguing talking point moving forward in the series. And, after a scene-stealing performance as Pietro, Evan Peters’ return as Quicksilver was missed this week (albeit for a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo in a post-credits scene).

Meanwhile, Wanda’s journey diverged from her ‘happily-ever-after’ reality of previous episodes as she struggled with the idea of Vision uncovering the truth of Westview and wanting to leave, in addition to unpredictable anomalies occurring all around her. Elizabeth Olsen once again excels in the role she has truly made her own over the course of her journey in the MCU so far. It’s incredible to see Olsen’s performance both subtly and overtly shift gears each episode as both the sitcom era and Wanda’s emotional state change. Olsen jaw-droppingly switches from a character in a sitcom to a traumatized, grieving woman with such delicacy that each episode warrants repeat viewing simply to absorb the actress’ skills on display.

We’ve saved the best for last, however, as Kathryn Hahn completely stole the show this week with her performance as Agnes, a.k.a. Agatha Harkness (!!!). Yes, Agnes was finally revealed as a classic, sinister character after much fan speculation. The writers of WandaVision played this twist very well by almost making it seem too obvious over the last few episodes that Agnes had sinister motives, in turn making the audience think this wouldn’t come to fruition. With two episodes still to go, we’re sure that there are going to be layers added to this reveal, but, for the time being, it was brilliant both in theory and in execution. For fans of the comics, Agatha Harkness has a long history dating back to Fantastic Four comics in the 1970s. Harkness’ inclusion has a number of implications for the broader, ominous nature of WandaVision, including characters like Nicholas Scratch and the Salem Seven. Regardless of one’s prior comics knowledge, the execution of this twist was superb. Wanda’s mysterious trek down into Agnes’ dark basement already sparked some suspicions, and when Agnes’ true identity was revealed, Hahn shines. The montage that follows is both humorous in fitting into the broader aesthetic of the show, but also insidious in highlighting the extent to which Agnes, a.k.a. Agatha, was operating in the background. This balance of humor and insidiousness has been one of the hallmarks of WandaVision so far, and this twist really emphasized that.

Verdict: 8.5/10

Despite some shortcomings in regards to choppy pacing and integration of this week’s sitcom theme, Breaking the Fourth Wall was yet again a great episode of WandaVision. The Disney+ series continues to reveal aspects of the mystery slowly but surely and brilliantly balances its sitcom structure and ominous undertones, making us excited to see how the events in Westview unfold in the final two episodes. 

Images courtesy of Disney+ and Marvel Studios

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REVIEW: WandaVision – Episode 6

by @holocronGeorge for @mar_tesseract

WARNING: The following review contains spoilers for WandaVision – Season 1, Episode 6: All-New Halloween Spooktacular!

After last week’s bombshell, surprise ending, WandaVision continues its strong run as it shifts to a late 1990s/early 2000s setting where the mystery continues to unravel. The episode, aptly titled All-New Halloween Spooktacular, follows Halloween night in Westview as Wanda and her children grow accustomed to the unexpected arrival of Uncle Pietro. Meanwhile, Vision and agents of SWORD continue to question what’s really going on in this too-good-to-be-true town.

Akin to On a Very Special Episode…, Wandavision’s sixth episode excels in striking a perfect balance between the ominous, David Lynch-esque mystery of Westview and the team outside of the Hex trying to discover what’s really going on. Relatively speaking, it’s still the happenings of Westview that are most interesting, but the team of Monica Rambeau, Darcy Lewis, and Jimmy Woo continue to be great to see and offer a nice juxtaposition to the characters inside the Hex. Little hints throughout the last few episodes hint at a potentially rocky relationship between Monica and Carol Danvers, something we’re excited to explore in Captain Marvel 2.

Into Westview and the episode really kicks into gear. Director Matt Shakman and writers Chuck Hayward and Peter Cameron brilliantly capture the feel of 1990s/2000s family sitcoms, especially the brilliant Malcolm in the Middle. The Halloween setting also adds another layer to a visually impressive episode. Evan Peters’ performance as Pietro heavily leans into the 90s tone of this episode. 

Speaking of Peters, it’s really jaw-dropping to watch this unexpected convergence of the MCU and Fox Marvel films come to life. In a show already full of intrigue, the recasting of Pietro adds another layer to this mystery. Why does Pietro look different? Is he secretly a villain in disguise? Why does he have insight into Wanda’s creation of the Hex? And why does he seem intent on knowing how she created this world? The intrigue of these questions highlights one of the strengths of WandaVision so far in that so much is kept from the audience’s awareness. We are now 6 episodes into a 9 episode season and, beyond the series’ foundational premise, know very little of what’s happening under the surface and what events will unfold. It’s a testament to the weekly rollout of episodes as audiences can theorize week-to-week as we are slowly given more and more information about what’s really going on.

The way in which the mystery unfolded this week was largely through the lens of Paul Bettany’s Vision. Donned in his classic comic book costume, Vision’s suspicions about Westview grew exponentially in this episode and culminated in him actually breaching beyond Wanda’s conjured world. This sparked an intense conclusion to the episode as Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda recognizes that something is off in her idyllic world and quickly seeks to intervene. The full breadth of Wanda’s power is on display as she expands the Hex more and more, highlighting now more than ever just how powerful (and dangerous) Wanda can be. The prophesied threat she posed in Captain America: Civil War seems to slowly becoming an unfortunate reality in WandaVision.

It’s impossible to review the latest WandaVision episode without noting the superbly complex and nuanced performances of the show’s titular characters, in particular Elizabeth Olsen. Olsen deftly plays the role of a sitcom wife and mother, but, with only a few subtle changes to her performance, makes it abundantly clear that she has turned to her ‘real’ self again. The way in which Olsen captures extreme grief and sadness in an episode that largely plays like an episode of Malcolm in the Middle showcases what an extraordinary performance the actress is delivering week after week. 

Verdict: 8.75/10

WandaVision yet again continued to impress, now with an episode that perfectly captures the feel of classic 1990s/2000s sitcom series. The Halloween setting adds a great aesthetic to an already ominous episode that makes us eager to discover what’s going to happen next.

Images courtesy of Disney+ & Marvel Studios

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REVIEW: WandaVision – Episode 5

by @holocronJosh for @mar_tesseract

WARNING: The following review contains spoilers for WandaVision – Season 1, Episode 5: On A Very Special Episode…

And just like that, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is changed forever. WandaVision’s fifth episode, aptly titled “On A Very Special Episode…,” sees the series fuse together the sitcom, dream-like structure of its first three episodes with the mystery unraveling nature of its fourth episode. In doing so, WandaVision delivered its best, most unpredictable and intriguing chapter yet.

The structure of the episode is a good place to kick things off given that this has been somewhat of a point of contention among select viewers. Some found WandaVision’s first three episodes to be a bit meandering, a criticism we most certainly did not buy into. Conversely, WandaVision’s fourth episode shifted the focus almost entirely away from its titular characters in exchange for a more by-the-books installment that began to unravel the mystery of Westview. Despite us absolutely loving everything to do with WandaVision so far, “On A Very Special Episode…” felt like the show had came alive in new and uncanny ways. Director Matt Shakman and writers Peter Cameron and Mackenzie Dohr deftly navigate the fifth episode in providing plenty of the weird and plenty of the grounded. 

Let’s start with the weird. Everything in Westview seems happy-go-lucky, but there is always something ominous lurking under the surface. Wanda and Vision’s children voluntarily grow at an alarming rate. Agnes breaks character, asking Wanda if she should “start from the top.” Vision seeing into Norm’s terrified, trapped mind. This latter point provides yet another big, confirmatory reveal for the series as it is finally and explicitly revealed that Wanda is in control of Westview and all of its inhabitants. 

Back in the real world, SWORD and the FBI work on uncovering the secrets of the fake reality that Wanda has conjured. After uncovering that Wanda stole Vision’s dead corpse just days prior in order to create this world, the agents send a drone into the world, angering Wanda enough to make her come outside and confront them. This, coupled with the prior reveal of Wanda controlling Westview’s citizens, really made Wanda feel like the show’s villain in an interesting and unnerving way. Wanda’s confrontation of the SWORD agents is reminiscent of Ian McKellen’s Magneto in the original X-Men film, and Elizabeth Olsen’s performance in this scene certainly evokes the villainy of her comic book character’s father. The subtle return of Wanda’s Sokovian accent and her change in outfit marks a stark contrast to the idyllic character we see in Westview (a.k.a. The Hex). Wanda looks disturbed, grieving with the loss of a man she loved dearly and the trauma of losing her brother and parents before that. Now more than ever, we’re getting a glimpse into Wanda’s rationale for creating Westview as a way to live her ideal life with Vision and slowly discovering more about the extent to which WandaVision is a show about dealing with grief and trauma in destructive ways.

After warning the agents to not enter Westview again, Wanda returns home to find that Sparky has died, prompting Tommy and Billy to ask their mom if she can revive him, knowing that she has full control and power to do so. Vision finds this suspicious yet again. He eventually confronts Wanda a few minutes later, revealing he knows that she controls Westview.

We don’t have much of an opportunity to see this heated conversation pan out further, however, as the door knocks and one of the MCU’s biggest “holy crap” moments yet. Not only is Pietro Maximoff / Quicksilver knocking on the door, BUT Pietro is played by none other than Evan Peters, reprising his role as the character from the Fox series of X-Men films. This cracks the entire MCU open in a way even bigger than J.K. Simmons appearance as a reworked J. Jonah Jameson in Spider-Man: Far From Home. The explanations for Peters’ appearance are endless. Is it as simple as Aaron Taylor-Johnson being recast? Is this some merger of the Fox X-Men films and the MCU? Or is this akin to Simmons in Far From Home? Is this really Quicksilver, or someone insidious in disguise? The possibilities are endless, but for the time being we’re just beyond excited and surprised to see Evan Peters in this role again. Peters has been one of the highlights in the last several X-Men films, highlighted by two incredible slow-motion action sequences in Days of Future Past and Apocalypse. So, the prospect of getting more of this version of the character is not only exciting for WandaVision, but the MCU more broadly. All in all, we’re extremely impressed.

Verdict: 9.5/10

WandaVision stunned with its best episode yet as we were delighted to see more sitcom weirdness coupled with plenty of intriguing reveals along the way. Elizabeth Olsen excels in perhaps her best performance in the MCU yet, subtly shifting from sitcom housewife to a mourning superpowered being. The episode’s concluding moments are sure to change the landscape of the MCU for better and we cannot wait to see what that entails as WandaVision heads into its last few episodes.

Images courtesy of Disney+ & Marvel Studios