Type keyword(s) to search


WandaVision's anti-binge strategy is paying off, keeping viewers hooked

  • "If WandaVision had dropped its entire season all at once instead of teasing its mystery out over weeks of storytelling, what would we make of it?" asks Caroline Framke, noting that it took a few weeks for WandaVision to reveal the basic reality in which it takes place. The big reveal in the Feb. 5 episode, says Framke, "is already tearing through the internet as fans try to figure out what it means, which is by design. Not only does WandaVision inspire recaps, but it encourages meticulous searching through its sets, costumes and dialogue for Easter eggs that might unlock dormant Marvel mysteries. It invites its audience to comb through its every word and do double-takes at potential connections to broader stories. If Marvel and Disney Plus had decided to debut the entire season at once, there’s no way WandaVision could sustain that kind of interest for very long. This kind of rollout isn’t just tactical for the show’s storytelling, but a crucial way for it to establish an ongoing presence in a pop culture landscape with an increasingly short attention span." Framke adds: "More recently, after years of launching entire seasons on a single day and daring viewers to keep up, streaming seems to be taking a step back towards the broadcast television model it once rejected. Hulu has favored a mix-and-match approach, releasing entire seasons of shows with audiences that might be more inclined to marathon (see: PEN15) while meting out others that are likelier to grab more eyes as they go (see: The Great). Amazon does weekly airings for shows like The Boys, which now has its own devoted fandom. Relative newcomers Apple Plus and HBO Max have indicated they’re not tied to the binge-model, with Apple shifting something like Dickinson to weekly airings in its second season, while HBO Max’s addictive thriller The Flight Attendant benefitted from a unique strategy of releasing a couple episodes per week until the finale. Even Netflix has experimented with staggered releases, most notably with competition reality shows like Great British Baking Show and Rhythm + Flow that thrive off more sustained cliffhangers. It’s been interesting, and more than a little amusing, to watch streaming networks play around with their release strategies to the point that they’re looking an awful lot like the basic television models they once bragged about subverting. It’s also undeniably effective when their shows feature especially ambitious or otherwise noteworthy moments that might not otherwise get as much attention when released as part of a package deal. Before WandaVision, for instance, Disney Plus learned the value of a weekly show with The Mandalorian.”


    • WandaVision deserves credit for understanding its audience's expectations: "WandaVision is the rare instance of an MCU product that both stakes out new, exciting territory and satisfies the ongoing health of the multibillion-dollar behemoth," says Miles Surrey. "It’s a loopy tribute to the sitcoms of decades past, and it’s also a show about superheroes in a vast universe of them. For anyone tiring of Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) living in a black-and-white ’50s sitcom, the premiere ended with the reveal that someone was literally watching them through a TV screen. Even more unsubtly, the third episode name-dropped Ultron and revealed that a paramilitary base has been set up outside of the superhero couple’s New Jersey town."
    • WandaVision offers a new perspective that give the MCU the advantage of unfamiliarity once again: "When Iron Man kicked off the MCU in 2008, there were a lot of questions about the nature of the world Marvel Studios was building," says Richard Newby. "What was the history of it? What heroes had already made their mark? What was the Avengers Initiative leading to? Of course, comic fans had a certain amount of familiarity and insight, but given the nature of adaptations and the broad liberties taken previously in Marvel movies, there really was no telling what we were in store for back then. In 2008, the very idea of seeing Bucky (Sebastian Stan) gunning down Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) minions alongside Rocket Racoon (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) seemed beyond even a pipe dream. It wasn’t even on our minds. While we’re not in exactly the same scenario in 2021 as we were 13 years ago, the five-year time jump in Endgame has allowed questions about the future and the nature of the world Marvel Studios is continuing to build to arise yet again."
    • WandaVision is all about the gray area: "Marvel and Disney+’s WandaVision is giving us layer after layer each week," says Rachel Leishman, "and the most recent episode proves yet again that labeling anyone as a straight up 'villain' doesn’t necessarily work."
    • Jac Schaeffer is committed to turning Wanda into a fully-realized woman: "We’ve seen her big power — the head tilt that scares everyone and is so amazing,” Schaeffer tells IndieWire. “We haven’t really seen her joy. We’ve never had an opportunity to see her be funny and to see her be in mundane circumstances.”
    • If the Luke Skywalker-style surprise Elizabeth Olsen alluded to happened in Episode 5, she undersold the moment
    • Kat Dennings on returning to the MCU: "I had no expectations of ever coming back, so I was just thrilled"

    TOPICS: WandaVision, Disney+, Elizabeth Olsen, Jac Schaeffer, Kat Dennings, Marvel