It’s finally 2021 and that means it’s time for the debut of WANDAVISION (and the return of the Marvel Cinematic Universe [MCU]). MouseInfo recently had the opportunity to hear from the cast and crew behind this highly anticipated show!
What is it?
WANDAVISION is a blend of classic television and the Marvel Cinematic Universe in which Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany)—two super-powered beings living idealized suburban lives—begin to suspect that everything is not as it seems.
The new series is directed by Matt Shakman; Jac Schaeffer is head writer. It marks the first series from Marvel Studios streaming exclusively on Disney+.
“The idea was… to do something that could not be done as a feature,” explains Kevin Feige, head of Marvel Studios. “We’re only here because Jac and Matt [understood what we were trying to accomplish]. We’re able to turn a whacky idea into a spectacular show.”
The way this is manifested is with a sitcom style format that pays homage and fully engrains the narrative in not just one type of sitcom but several spanning the past 70 years of television.
While the first episode was filmed before a live studio audience, the remaining episodes were filmed with the fourth wall. “It changes the energy, the approach, the style, everything,” Matt shares. “I wouldn’t want to ruin it for everybody but we definitely do take quite a trip.”
With the goal to be as authentic to sitcoms of the past as possible, Matt Shakman and Jac Schaeffer took the actors on a “Sitcom Bootcamp”. From the approach to comedy in various eras to the changing dialects of the times, the cast and crew were taken on a deep dive of some of the most beloved sitcoms of history.
Elizabeth Olson explains Wanda in WANDAVISION is an amalgamation of our favorite sitcom heroines. “Mary Tyler Moore and Elizabeth Montgomery, and I think I accidentally threw in some Lucy in the 70s just because there was so much physical comedy.”
Paul Bettany agrees the approach to Vision was different from the films. “He’s Jarvis, he’s part Ultron, he’s part Tony Stark…I’ll just throw a little bit of Dick Van Dyke in there and a little bit of Hugh Laurie.”
Kathryn Hahn, who portrays Wanda and Vision’s nosey neighbor Agnes, echoed: “The trick was to not to satirize it, but to kind of like get inside of each one tonally.”
The Big Shuffle
WANDAVISION is the official start of MCU’s Phase 4, but that wasn’t the original plan. “Part of-part of having a plan is having the ability and the ideas of how to shuffle should the need arise,” Kevin Feige explains. “I’m not saying we were prepped for a global pandemic. We were not. But, we’ve always over the past 12, 15 years of Marvel Studios been able to shuffle around.”
Kevin does make note that being flexible with the timeline does not mean anything creatively was sacrificed. The primary reason for the change was in terms of production schedules. “The unexpected has often served Marvel Studios well. And it has served us well in this case, because this show being our first [show], I love how bold it is.”
After screening the first three episodes, I originally found the sitcom format to be a strange jump but by episode 3, things started to get really interesting! During one particular scene, I asked my viewing buddy (who happens to be the biggest Marvel fan I know) what a specific element meant. When he confirmed my suspicions, I leapt out off the couch and immediately started speculating where the series might take us.
But don’t think for a minute that the MCU’s new stretch to the small screen takes away any bit of the Marvel magic. There are plenty of Easter Eggs for long-time Marvel fans, and new characters to expand the universe. As Kevin Feige says, “We want to make people understand these projects on Disney+ are as important as the projects going into theaters, and we want to feel that same excitement.”
Trust us, Kevin. We’re excited.
See it for Yourself
WANDAVISION premieres its first two episodes exclusively on Disney+ on Friday, January 15, 2021.
Episode 3 debuts on Friday, January 22, 2021 with the six remaining episodes airing weekly on Fridays.