One to Watch: Wandavision

When the credits to Avengers: Endgame rolled it was an experience. The culmination of ten years of cinematic development, and one of the most ambitious and successful movie projects that has ever been attempted. When I left the cinema I felt the catharsis of seeing it through to the end.

I also felt a sense of relief.

I wouldn’t need to follow the Marvel Cinematic Universe anymore. I wasn’t interested in following ‘Phase Four’, I might watch a Spiderman or the next Thor: Love and Thunder, because I enjoy Tom Holland as Spiderman and Taka Watiti’s contributions to the franchise.

But then Wandavision came along, and it seems I am being pulled back into the MCU once more…

Wandavision follows the lives of Avengers Wanda and Vision as they try to live a typical suburban life whilst hiding their supernatural powers from their neighbours. Each episode is set in a distinct television time period, changing between episodes from the 60’s to the 70’s to the 80’s all the way to modern sit-coms in the latest episodes. However all is not well and the aesthetic changes, and moments of fourth-wall breaking, suggest something far more sinister is at play behind the scenes of the happy sit-com you are presented with.

The series is a masterfully crafted mystery, with rising stakes and tensions as each episode goes on. Each episode feels painfully short, running at about 20-30 minutes long, as the the screen cuts to a ‘please stand-by’ placeholder before credits roll, just as the tension reaches breaking point. It it intentional and it really builds up the mystery of what is going on in an exciting way.

This series is a gem of experiemental story telling. The MCU is trying something different and it is carried powerfully by the chemistry and acting talents of Elisabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany who play the titualar Wanda and Vision. If you have enjoyed the MCU to date, Wandavision is an easy must-see, and is a real breath of fresh air in a typically formulaic franchise, in the same way as Guardians of the Galaxy or Thor: Ragnarok have been, earlier in the franchise.

Whilst watching all the other MCU films is not a necessary prerequisite to watching Wandavision, you may find yourself lacking some understanding of the characters presented if you have not seen their character development through Age of Ultron, Infinity War or Endgame. The chemistry these characters have is obvious from watching the show, but how they reached this point is something that may only be clear to those who have seen the three films listed above, particularly in regards to the key emotional beats that the series follows.

And yes, to you MCU fans who are curious, this is set after Avengers: Endgame. I know. THAT is all part of the mystery of what is going on, and trust me when I say the mysteries really grow as the series goes on.

Wandavision is a great series and has re-invigorated my interest in the new phase of the MCU. I would have passed on the upcoming Falcon and the Winter Soldier series that will be released right after Wandavision concludes, but Wandavision has given me enough hope that the MCU is doing something interesting that I might have to just check it out…

Wandervision can be viewed on the Disney+ streaming service.

Games We Grew Up With: Spider-Man

‘Greetings true believers and newcomers alike…’

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Spider-Man on the original Playstation was one of the first games where I ever played as a super hero, and also one of the first games that gave me nightmares.

The game starts with a splash screen where you can pick the difficulty. My brothers spent too many minutes enjoying the different voices that announced ‘kid mode’ every time it was selected, scrolling through the voice actors for each of the villains in the game.

I did not want to play on ‘kid mode’ because little nine-year-old me was not a ‘kid’ anymore…after struggling with the first level for quite some time I returned to that kid mode, and began the game in earnest.

This game was everything a comic fan in the early 2000’s could want, a very complete roster of Spider-Man’s villains, guest appearances from many other comic heroes, vocal performances by Stan Lee and solid web-slinging action!

The graphics were as blocky as one would expect given the limitations of the Playstation, but that did not matter; the art style was vibrant and the gameplay was fun.

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My first Spider-Man comic, was a collection titled Spider-Man vs Venom, and I remember absolutely loving that Venom made a key appearance in this game. In fact he and his species, the symbiotes were a key plot point. Because symbiotes were resistant to the damage you could cause you needed to get special fire-web to burn them, don’t ask how that works, the answer didn’t matter to me at the time.

But despite how fun it was I never completed this game. I got stuck in the final encounter that pitted you against the ultimate horror for any 9-year-old.

Monster Ock.

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Literal nightmare fuel…

A twisted combination of Doctor Octopus and Carnage, this boss screeched inhumanely, could not be fought, and was an instant game over if it caught you.

All you could do is run…through a convoluted vent system with janky controls.

I lost so many times I had nightmares of being chased by Monster Ock, all whilst he was screeching ‘it’s not over yyyyyeeeeet!’

Whilst I never returned to the game there have been  even more delightful Spider-Man games that have been made in the 15-years since them, which have expanded upon the delightful gameplay and comic experience that we were first introduced in this Playstation classic.

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