Marvel Studio’s much-anticipated series WandaVision has premiered on Disney Plus with the first two 29 and 36-minute episodes presented in 4k, HDR (HDR10 or Dolby Vision depending on device) and Dolby Atmos audio. The show takes place after the events of the movie Avengers: Endgame (2019) and is likewise set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
WandaVision is a refreshing and light approach to Marvel Comics stories that is uncharted. Set in the style of vintage sitcoms, the show is unlike any Marvel or superhero movie or TV show that takes some inspiration from the classic series Bewitched (1964–1972). The episodes even insert period-inspired interstitials like an advertisement for an innovative toaster.
But series creator Jac Schaeffer doesn’t get stuck in the classic TV show formula, but rather implants bits of comicbook-inspired mythology on top of the classic sitcom script, playing with the superhero abilities of both The Vision played by Paul Bettany and Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff) played by Elizabeth Olsen.
There really isn’t much reason for the show to be in 4k (at least for now), as the episodes are presented in the older 4.3 square format that was phased out with the dawn of HDTV. However, there is a sharpness to the image that was obviously not available on TVs until the dawn of consumer 4k.
As far as HDR, most of the show is in black and white with bits of color here and there. HDR is typically displayed by improvements in color depth but can help with adding contrast to black and white imagery. Without giving away any spoilers to WandaVision there are some hints of color in the show that can definitely get a boost with HDR10 or DolbyVision.
We haven’t seen any reason, at least so far, for the Dolby Atmos capability (that’s layered on DolbyTrueHD to deliver object-based audio above and behind the viewer). The sound, while crisp in dialogue and effects, is still rather one-directional, which is fine for a show that has a retro look and feel. There are some audio moments that place the musical score in left or right speakers, but most of the dialogue and laugh tracks originate straight from the screen. It would have been interesting to hear this show with a mono track.
Disney Plus takes a more traditional approach to their original episodic series. Rather than premiering all episodes at once like Netflix and Prime Video usually do, we’ll have to wait another seven weeks for all nine episodes of Season One. But good things come to those who wait, and so far WandaVision has got us wanting more.