I Finished WandaVision - What's Next?
Spoilers for WandaVision ahead....
Marvel Studios closed out their first ever original series, WandaVision, last Friday (other Marvel shows were produced through the separate and defunct Marvel Television), and while there are many questions and theories a-brewing in the aftermath, just how great the show was and the finality of the series invite the question: But how do I get more of that? Or...
It'll be hard to find anything besides the Scarlet Witch and Vision comics that's anywhere close to the emotional genre mash this series ended up being, but there are other things out there with some of the similar flavors. Here are but a few:
Marvel's Agent Carter (and Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Of course, the first place you could go is the beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's history with television. Agent Carter follows one of the MCU's best characters, Peggy Carter, as she enters a world after war where her value in a man's world needs proven - again. Like Wanda grieving Vision, Peggy spends the first season learning how to move forward after the (supposed) death of her love Steve Rogers/Captain America. The beloved series is also packed with entertaining period piece spy adventures while helping clear her wartime friend Howard Stark's name, alongside the man who inspired the program that became the Vision - Edwin Jarvis. However, an unceremonious cancelation after 18 episodes make it something of a rare cult classic for the franchise. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., on the other hand, saw its seven seasons concurrently with the Infinity Saga after premiering in Phase Two. Though reportedly it took a while to find its footing (I admit, I have not seen it - yet!), the show's fans grew even more passionate for the characters and stories with each passing season. Like WandaVision's early episodes, some shenanigans with time periods and questionable realities do ensue in the latter half of the series!
If the Disney+ original series has you amped for more long-form Marvel storytelling to satiate you between Loki and Hawkeye, these'll do! Agent Carter is currently streaming on Disney+, while all 136 episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are still biding its time on Netflix for now.
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
One of the more intriguing parts of WandaVision was in its final episode, which had Wanda's Vision and Hayward's Vision ponder the nature of their existence - one being more or less an illusion, the other a replica. On the video game side of the Disney slate, Japanese game director Tetsuya Nomura has created a series which incidentally in part has its head in a similar place. While the first Kingdom Hearts game was a charming romp through Disney movies and the power of friendship, its sequels would complicate matters with tons of convoluted yet entertaining lore.
Chain of Memories, like WandaVision, takes place in a realm where main character Sora, Donald Duck, and Goofy have to progress through fabricated versions of their earlier adventures, each with uncanny differences. Eventually, Sora's memories are twisted, changing his personality in shocking ways, begging similar questions to the miniseries about how memories and how others perceive us affect identity, and about truth vs. reality. 358/2 Days features a different cast of characters, barely featuring any Disney characters in significant roles, though it leans even further into themes of identity and reality by introducing characters who are replicas of other characters and characters who believe their truth to be artificial. And like WandaVision, the outcome is a really, really sad story.
Granted, neither Kingdom Hearts game really gets to the heart of the idea in the way WandaVision's Ship of Theseus talk does, but they are games worthy of your time all the same. Both are featured in the Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX collection on PC, Playstation, and Xbox consoles, although I maintain the best way to enjoy these two games on the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS, respectively, if you have the means.
The Dick van Dyke Show
The late Carl Reiner's seminal sitcom played an unexpectedly significant role in WandaVision. The first episode played an enormous homage to it, with Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen lovingly channeling Dick van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore in their performances, and the house set being an uncanny replica of the Petrie home. In the revelatory Episode 8, Agatha's memory dive reveals not only that the Maximoffs were the proud owners of the gorgeous DVD collection, but also that Wanda's last memory of her parents alive was while watching the classic Twilight Zone parody episode "It May Look Like a Walnut". Brutally tragic incorporation, but The Dick van Dyke Show remains one of the sharpest and hilarious sitcoms of all time. After watching the Walnut episode that haunts Wanda's dreams, check out the Season 3 premiere "That's My Boy?". After that - go nuts, Ha cha cha! - and enjoy the many shenanigans of a TV comedy writer, his writers room and colorful bosses, and his funny family.
While there isn't much if any thematic overlap with WandaVision, this is a perfect start if you enjoyed the sitcoms of the series' first half. The Dick van Dyke Show is currently streaming on Hulu, the recently rebranded Paramount+, and IMDb TV (free with ads with an Amazon Prime subscription).
This cult NBC sitcom had a bit of a resurgence during quarantine thanks to the Netflix bump - and a well-deserved bump it was! If you liked the meta-riffing on classic sitcoms and the Marvel universe at large in WandaVision, you'll probably love Community, whose mind is pretty much in the same place for its six seasons and eventual movie - well, except for the Marvel stuff. While on the surface, it's a comedy about the oddest study group in the history of community college - that's saying something! - Dan Harmon and his creative team (including the Russo Brothers, who would take the directorial mantle from Joss Whedon after Age of Ultron) would use that premise as a jumping-off point to riff on classic shows, movies, and pop culture (and eventually the medium itself).
Like WandaVision, though, characters and an emotional throughline are always at the heart of the genre zaniness. For example, one of my favorite moments involves film savant Abed (Danny "Larry, I'm on DuckTales" Pudi) breaking down because his status quo is changing, and he chooses to retreat into his overthinking imagination. Study partner Annie Edison (Alison Brie) plays along as they project and enact potential scenarios before she convinces the both of them they just need to get better at "winging" life than drowning in their anxieties. Like that, Community is the perfect blend of weirdness and heart - and you can catch it all on Netflix, Hulu, and Prime. Well... most all of it, with Episode 2.14 being pulled from the former two services. Still, it's become one of my favorite shows and well worth the binge!
I ran into a friend at church on Sunday, and we had a brief chat about WandaVision (it started out with, "So...WandaVision?" followed by a series of nods, mmm's, and so good's). But before we departed, I let out a "You know, if you like WandaVision, you should check out Twin Peaks!"
Even as trailers were dropping, I got a David Lynch vibe from this series. Now while the final product doesn't go full out Lynch (it might have been a bit much, if we're being real, though you can watch his one G-rated movie, The Straight Story, on Disney+ now!), there is still a little bit of that flavor. If there's one commonality across Lynch's films, it's the exploration of darkness underneath the idyllic, whether it's suburbia, Hollywood, or marriage. Arguably, WandaVision's mystery is all about what the darkness beneath the strange sitcom world could be, as a time each episode was dedicated to something deeply unsettling.
Twin Peaks is David Lynch's career-defining TV series and one of the more influential shows from the 90s as far as serial storytelling is concerned. What begins as a standard if creepy murder mystery - spearheaded by the incomparable Kyle MacLachlan as the unflappable Special Agent Dale Cooper, Federal Bureau of Investigation - slowly unfurls into an interconnected character study and horror-adjacent drama, as the quiet town of Twin Peaks, Washington, reveals itself as a nexus of supernatural phenomena. The show embodies Lynch's voice most perfectly, adorably earnest in its optimism but frank in its darkness. Of course, this just means that the series is equal parts mysterious, quirky, twisty, funny, emotionally enrapturing, melodramatic, and scary. Some call it weird, but like WandaVision, I call it great (even with a rough stretch in season two).
Fun fact: Bob Iger greenlit this series at ABC back in the day; as Disney's CEO he would spearhead the platform that would house WandaVision. While you can't watch Twin Peaks on that platform today, you can stream the original ABC run on Netflix, Hulu, and Paramount+. If you're hooked, you can catch the polarizing/masterful prequel/sequel film Fire Walk with Me on the Criterion Channel and HBO Max, then watch the experimental 2017 revival The Return on Showtime (which also has the ABC seasons).
Let me know your post-WandaVision watch plans down below, or what you think of these picks!