WandaVision isn’t like most superhero shows. Stylistically, the Disney+ series has very little in common with any other Marvel Studios titles — opting to recreate the aesthetics and filming styles of sitcoms from the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s rather than the sleeker style of the MCU films. But WandaVision’s eccentricities also extend into its narrative, with the series adopting a zanier and trippier approach to its storytelling than the more streamlined structures found in most Marvel films.
Three episodes in, those choices seem to be working out well for WandaVision, as the discussions surrounding the series have only continued to grow, and viewers have become more and more invested in unraveling the show’s complex mystery. Although what we've seen of WandaVision so far doesn’t have much in common with its MCU predecessors, there is one recent TV series that the Disney+ title is reminiscent of — FX’s Legion, which is currently streaming on Hulu. Here's why:
Psychic Powers Unleashed — Legion concluded its three-season run back in 2019, but its influence on WandaVision can still be felt. Like WandaVision, the FX series followed a character from the Marvel comics with psychic powers so immense he could warp and alter reality according to his whims. In the case of Legion, that character was David Haller (played by Dan Stevens), the schizophrenic mutant son of Charles Xavier.
Legion often strived to turn David’s psychic powers into expressions of his own emotional state in a way that feels extremely similar to how WandaVision is using Wanda’s powers to communicate her grief over Vision’s death. To that end, the manner in which WandaVision is cycling through its various alternate realities even feels strangely reminiscent of one particularly memorable episode of Legion.
Airing about halfway through Legion’s second season, “Chapter 14” sees Dan Stevens’ David grappling with the death of a loved one by creating multiple realities in his mind, in which this person was still alive. While Legion’s concept of parallel timelines were often harsher and stranger than Wandavision’s sitcom-influenced worlds, the core idea was the same.
Both shows used their protagonists’ psychic powers to create worlds in which they and their loved ones could still exist at the same time — and it was just as emotionally potent a storytelling device then in Legion as it is now in WandaVision.
A Trippy Time — The two shows’ similarities go beyond just their narratives and themes — both experiment with the TV form in ways that most superhero shows don’t.
The way WandaVision's first two episodes used the color red to emphasize the cracks forming in Wanda’s strange reality is reminiscent of how Legion’s pilot episode used an impromptu Bollywood dance number to communicate the fractured nature of David’s psyche. WandaVision’s reliance on old-school practical effects to create Wanda’s telekinetic powers also feels similar to the time that Legion depicted a climactic battle in the style of a black and white silent film, and used animation to bring some of David's telepathic fights to life.
It's worth noting that Legion dealt with weighty subjects across its three seasons, including the difficult realities of dealing with mental illness and even sexual assault. And like many TV shows and movies, it didn’t always tackle those topics in the most tactful of ways.
But when Legion worked, it was an experience unlike any other that TV has ever had to offer. Its three seasons featured some of the most ambitious visual storytelling in recent TV history. To their credit, cast members Dan Stevens, Rachel Keller, Jean Smart, and Aubrey Plaza all gave nuanced, awards-worthy performances throughout it as well.
So to any WandaVision viewers out there who are looking for something similar, we recommend checking out Legion. At the very least, we can guarantee it’ll be unlike anything you’ve seen before.
WandaVision is streaming now on Disney+.