By R. Liaw
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqyZkB1UCAg – Opening credits to all episodes
In light of this issue’s theme, ‘grainy nostalgia’, this article will be diving into the references to iconic tv shows, as well as Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) easter eggs, of WandaVision. It is not quite a review, so by reading on, I am assuming you know the plot. If not, I really hope you are convinced of watching (or re-watching) it if you haven’t already.
No need to be said, but obviously there are a lot of SPOILERS AHEAD!
How to even begin unpacking this metaphorical, content-heavy, surprise-filled, turning-point of a masterpiece? This is one of my favourite shows I have ever watched, not only because I am a huge Marvel fan, but mostly due to the way in which it is set and structured. Whilst following the story of Avengers Wanda Maximoff and Vision’s lives in the small town of Westview after Endgame, the show mimics sitcoms from different time periods: episode 1 is 1950s-styled, episode 2 features the 60s, episode 3 the 70s, and so on… besides being an absolute treat to whoever watched the shows they drew inspiration from and exposing younger-audiences to older television culture, the purpose of moving from decade to decade is explained through a deep-rooted flashback into Wanda’s origin and childhood.
WandaVision includes commercial breaks advertising a certain product during each program. They may seem insignificant at first glance, but are all packed with MCU easter eggs and deeper meanings related to Wanda’s mental state and origin story. They metaphorically walk the viewer through Wanda’s life as the show progresses. These are also reminiscent of the epoch that the specific episode is set in, following societal norms and marketing culture of the time. They really look as if they belong to that decade! We will be breaking these down too.
Episode 1: "Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience" – 1950s
Episode 1 is in black and white and has a square-frame fit: both classic 1950s-shows’ features.
Episode 1 commercial: Stark Industries ToastMate 2000 toaster oven.
Episode 2: "Don't Touch That Dial" – 1960s
The world of Technicolour technology has still not reached Episode 2. Viewers will straight away decipher where the influence for the opening credits sequence stemmed from.
Episode 2 commercial: Strücker watches.
Episode 3: "Now In Color" – 1970s
The episode’s title and the groovy clothes say it all: welcome to the 70s! The show now permanently continues in glorious, vibrant colour. The fact that Wanda is pregnant is another nod to television culture at the time, since sitcoms used to avoid having pregnant characters before this. The end of this episode has the camera’s aspect ratio move from widescreen to full-screen.
Episode 3 commercial: Hydra Soak bath powder.
Episode 4: "We Interrupt This Program"
This episode is focussed on the bigger picture; what is going on outside Westview (hence, the name). What we do see of Wanda and Vision is stylised as a continuation of episode 3.
Also, no commercial break ad in this episode because this is the most prominent transition to ‘the real world’, and a great part of the story takes place outside of Westview from the perspective of Monica Rambeau.
Episode 5: "On a Very Special Episode..." – 1980-90s
The title of this episode, like all others, is characteristic to the era it is set. In the 80s, it was common for a voiceover to interrupt a program to announce: “Tonight, on a very special episode of… [fill in this blank]".
Episode 5 commercial: Lagos paper towels.
Episode 6: "All-New Halloween Spooktacular!" – 1990s-2000s
Hey, Hallowe’en special (even though this show came out mid-January)! This episode is a real treat for Marvel Comics fans, with Vision’s, Scarlet Witch’s, Tommy’s, Billy’s and (surprise, surprise!) Quicksilver’s holiday costumes paying homage to the original heroes’ outfits.
Episode 6 commercial: Yo-Magic yogurt.
Episode 7: "Breaking the Fourth Wall" – 2010s
Modern, 21st century audiences will recognise key characteristics of their favourite shows straight away: from the camera angles, sound effects, (fictional) product placement and outfits.
Episode 7 commercial: Nexus antidepressants.
Episode 8: "Previously On" and Episode 9: "The Series Finale" - Modern cinema
The final two episodes of the series are stylised like other modern MCU movies and tv shows. The whole series provided the audiences with a trip through time, starting in the 1950s and ending with modern cinema (specifically, Marvel’s superhero movies).
No commercial break. We have now permanently exited Wanda’s sitcom ‘world’.
If you read everything up to here… this is your sign to GO REWATCH THE SHOW! This time, pay attention to every homage, detail and easter egg Marvel included for us.
Bojalad, Alec. “WandaVision: The Sitcom Influences of Episode 3.” Den of Geek, 9 Feb. 2021, www.denofgeek.com/tv/wandavision-episode-3-brady-bunch/.
Bojalad, Alec. “WandaVision: The Sitcom Influences of Episode 5.” Den of Geek, 9 Feb. 2021, www.denofgeek.com/tv/wandavision-episode-5-family-ties/.
Delbel, Julia. “Analyzing the Influences of the 50s and 60s Episodes of 'WANDAVISION'.” Murphy's Multiverse -, 18 Jan. 2021, www.murphysmultiverse.com/analyzing-the-influences-of-the-50s-and-60s-episodes-of-wandavision/.
Gemmill, Allie. “'WandaVision': MCU Easter Eggs You Might Have Missed.” Collider, 6 Mar. 2021, collider.com/wandavision-easter-eggs-mcu-disney-plus/.
Krajnyak, Zack. “What Sitcoms WandaVision Episodes 1 & 2 Are Inspired By.” ScreenRant, 15 Jan. 2021, screenrant.com/wandavision-episodes-1-2-sitcoms-love-lucy-bewitched/.
Perine, Aaron. “WandaVision: Why Episode 4 Has No Commercial Break Ad.” TV Shows, Comicbook.com, 1 Feb. 2021, 3:19 pm, comicbook.com/tv-shows/news/wandavision-commercial-ad-why-episode-4-has-no/.
Romano, Evan. “A Quick Reminder Why Lagos Is Important in the MCU.” Men's Health, Men's Health, 5 Feb. 2021, www.menshealth.com/entertainment/a35432124/lagos-marvel-wandavision/.
Salazar, Savannah. “What Are the Commercials in WandaVision Telling Us?” Vulture, Vulture, 19 Feb. 2021, www.vulture.com/article/wandavision-commercials-marvel-mcu-clues-easter-eggs.html.
Sarkisian, Jacob. “Every TV Show 'WandaVision' Is Based On.” Insider, Insider, 6 Mar. 2021, www.insider.com/wandavision-what-tv-show-inspirations-disney-plus-marvel-2021-1#good-times-6.
Torres, Caesar. “Review: WandaVision Tackles the '70s in Its Third Episode.” Winter Is Coming, FanSided, 22 Jan. 2021, winteriscoming.net/2021/01/22/wandavision-tackles-70s-third-episode-review/.