Friday, June 2, 2023

WandaVision is anti-binging TV | Engadget

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This article contains spoilers for WandaVision.

Hello ray of heaven! After eight episodes of old TV pastiches, a slow build-up, and a lot of character review, the final episode of Disney + WandaVision ultimately gave audiences the big, energetic energy fight we’ve come to expect after seeing dozens of Marvel and DC movies. For those who hated the show so far, maybe this was a relief. For those who appreciated the way the show deviated from the norm… it’s probably a case of mixed feelings. Because what made the show such a pleasure was that it was so different from previous superhero releases, a feeling amplified by how the show was delivered in weekly doses instead of all at once. .

Streaming has changed the way people watch TV, and many now expect a quick fix where they can watch it all at once and not have to wait to see cliffhangers. Want to see if Captain Picard survives by being transformed into a Borg? In my day, you had to wait a whole summer for the answer; now you just wait for the next episode to load Paramount +. Binging arose because people started consuming old media through DVD collections and streaming services, revisiting old favorites like Office for comfort and new favorites like Game of thrones so they can participate in the conversation at work and online. Savoring the individual components of the emissions has never been the point.

Marvel Studios

Netflix looked at these viewing patterns and decided that this is how people prefer to watch series, releasing its original programming all in one go at 3 a.m. And at first it worked, with people planning their weekends around the new season of Card castle or Orange is the new black. It even reached a point where some people took time off on Fridays so they could see everything. Daredevil or Luke cage upon arriving, often going through all 13 episodes before most people even got to work.

While some services like Peacock have followed Netflix’s lead, others are still planning a weekly release. Paramount + does this with Star Trek, and Disney + did it with its big marquee originals like The Mandalorian and now WandaVision. Part of that decision is just practical: if you stretch the output of one show, you ensure that subscribers stay for several weeks, instead of losing everything for one weekend and canceling their subscription until the next. season. Sure, people can still do it now, but that means being the last to see the show and missing the initial water cooler talk.

Kathryn Hahn as Agatha Harkness

Marvel Studios

In the case of WandaVision, it also means losing much of the impact. Not just in spoilers – although missing the buzz around “Agatha All Along” is a shame, because it’s just such a bop (and even fun). But in the way each episode is constructed as a unique piece of art, using different styles and focusing on different aspects of the sitcom format, even episode duration. Dick Van Dyke was a consultant for the first installment – would we have really enjoyed that fact so much if we had immediately had eight more episodes after that to fill our thoughts?

Even after we left the sitcom style, the last two episodes still felt unique, last week functioning as an emotional tour de force on Wanda’s ongoing trauma and this week as I said earlier. , basically embracing a more action-packed fight with energy blasts. But he still found ways to stand out. There is a discussion of the Theseus Ship riddle, and even a part that sort of wanders into zombie territory (Marvel Studios hasn’t really done horror before, so it was a beautiful or very unpleasant surprise depending on your personal comfort level).

Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany

Marvel Studios

Even though I’m sitting here to digest what the episode means for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I can’t help but think about how the people who chose to wait will absorb the series. Taken as a whole, WandaVision really works like a Marvel movie, albeit slightly longer. The first three episodes are the intro, then episode four shows us what’s really going on, then the plot really starts to take off from there before we jump into the big reveal at the end of episode six. , followed by the great emotional beats and the decisive battle. . Even last week’s episode, with Agatha taking Wanda on a stroll through her past, reminded me of the flashbacks Captain America, Iron Man, and even Thor had on their respective outings – just stretched out a bit, to give Wanda was the characterization she so desperately missed in the movies.

If a Marvel movie were broken up into segments, it’s possible that many viewers would feel disappointed with those. First Iron ManTony Stark only fits over half an hour after the movie starts. And that’s just the prototype – the “real” costume doesn’t debut until after an hour and we’re half done with the movie. Iron man 3 even flipped the script by starting Tony in the suit, then stripping him for a full hour in the middle. (This is why the movie is sometimes considered boring, despite being one of my favorite Marvel movies because of how it rejected standard conventions.)

Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda

Marvel Studios

WandaVision still uses this overall structure, but now we’ve had to wait a week between the main story beats. And yes, it’s anecdotal, but a lot of people I know who hate WandaVision… are the same who hated Iron man 3. If they had been able to watch it all at once, maybe their initial disappointment would have faded by the time they got to the “pew pew pew” parts of episodes four and nine. Going on a show – or watching a movie – doesn’t give you a lot of time to think about the components, only the work as a whole. And if the ending gives what you want, you’re more likely to have a positive opinion of it.

However, WandaVision was a celebration of the art of television as much as it was a superhero story, and the intention was to get you thinking about its ingredients and the craftsmanship that went into them – as well as the emotional beats that go into them. ‘they were knocking. If I had watched it all at once, I would probably only focus for now on the questions we have left at the end – where White Vision went, what the Skrulls want with Monica and what happened to the poor, poor. Ralph – but instead, I’m also aware of what each episode intended to accomplish. Taken as a whole, this probably would have made a mediocre superhero movie. But as a series it was a very good race.


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