“WandaVision,” created by Jac Schaeffer and starring the return of Avengers Paul Bettany (Vision) and Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff), is by far the strangest addition to the MCU. Warning, spoilers ahead for the new series.
Beginning Jan. 15 on Disney Plus, this “Twilight Zone” pipe miniseries goes decade after decade, with the stars seemingly trapped in their own sitcoms (corresponding to the period). Each episode is a new decade and a new collection of TV tropes for audiences to browse.
At a Sunday press conference hosted by Jaleel White of “Family Matters” fame, a perfect nod to the many great sitcoms of the past, “WandaVision” drew inspiration from the stars and creators of the The show answered burning questions, including about the show and what sitcoms were used for inspiration. Schaeffer, Bettany, Olsen, director Matt Shakman, Kathryn Hahn, Teyonah Parris and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige were all in attendance. Read on to find out everything we know so far about the series.
‘WandaVision’ was recorded in front of a live studio audience
To add that authentic sitcom feel, the first episode of “WandaVision” (set in the 1950s) was filmed in front of a live studio audience. Even though that was the norm at the time – as White pointed out, every episode of “Family Matters” was recorded live – the method took a bit of getting used to Olsen. “It was so scary,” Olsen said. “There was a lot of adrenaline, there were a lot of rapid changes, and it totally confused my brain… The idea of not playing in front of an audience, but of feeding on an audience and having a camera. I was really grateful when we added the fourth wall.
Meet Dick Van Dyke and sitcom boot camp
In order to stay as authentic as possible, director Shakman and Feige caught up with sitcom great Dick Van Dyke, who shared his wisdom. “I remember Kevin and I had this wonderful lunch with Dick Van Dyke which remains one of the great afternoons of my life. And we asked him, “What was the guiding principle behind ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’? Why did it work so well? And he said, “If it couldn’t happen in real life, it can’t happen on the show,” Shakman said.
Other aspects of the production were also important to the authenticity of the show, such as the production design, cinematography and costumes. But more than anything, Shakman said he and the cast have been researching as many sitcoms as they can over the decades.
“We’ve watched a ton of old TV episodes and talked about how comedy is changing, because it really is. The approach to comedy in the 50s, 60s, 70s is really different. And like Lizzie said, doing it in front of this live studio audience, which is this quasi-theater-TV thing, it really adds to that, ”Shakman said. “Lucille Ball,” I Love Lucy “, Dick Van Dyke – you can feel the energy of this theatrical performance, working with the audience. And then when you walk into 60s shows like “Bewitched” or “I Dream of Jeannie” it’s a fourth wall and all of a sudden it’s more like making a movie these days and the laugh track is canned and introduced, which changes the energy, the approach, the style, everything.
Yes, ‘Full House’ is an influence for the ’90s sitcom episode
More than anything, the creators of “WandaVision” turned to historic family sitcoms like “The Brady Bunch” and the aforementioned “Dick Van Dyke Show” for inspiration. This means that the big names in television like “Taxi” will not be integrated into “WandaVision”, the focus here is on the family.
But will Olsen’s family bond with “Full House,” starring his sisters Ashley and Mary-Kate, open the door to a Tanner family reunion? Not clear, but the sitcom juggernaut was definitely an influence. That being said, it was important for the show’s creators to keep the influences authentic, they wanted to focus on the comfort factor of these shows. It was important that “WandaVision” did not come across as satire.
“[Family sitcoms] It meant a lot to us, as old-fashioned and silly as they may seem, there is a comfort factor. This was the main factor behind the comedic inspiration versus what got us to put these ideas together, ”Feige said. “There is a wonderful thing that happened with Matt’s background [as a child actor] like he talked about, which is so amazing. Lizzie’s journey with her sisters [Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen], which didn’t even occur to me until I thought we were in the writers room with pictures of ‘Full House’ on the wall and I was like ‘Oh, this ‘is that.’
How did they keep “WandaVision” modern, despite using old shows as tropes?
Shakman explained that since family sitcoms were the primary influences on “WandaVision,” it wasn’t difficult to bring these ideals into modern times. “There were some key benchmarks that pertained to this idea of family, and I often think that it ages quite well,” Shakman said. “And I also think the key references that we were looking for are these miraculous shows that managed to be timely and timeless. They resonated in their moment, and somehow you watch “The Dick Van Dyke Show” today and it’s as good as it was then.
Schaeffer agreed, adding that he was on the writers’ radar to avoid shows that put forward “disappointing” tropes. “When we looked back and researched and watched these older shows, there were shows that were a bit of a letdown and that weren’t acceptable for today, ”Schaeffer said. “We had a really amazing writer’s room full of people who were part of our job keeping tabs on these things. And like Matt said, pretty quickly we focused on family sitcoms. There are a lot of workplace sitcoms and other types of sitcoms out there, but the family part has kind of kept us very focused.
How is Hydra integrated into “WandaVision”?
Despite feeling like it’s a rerun of “I Love Lucy,” “WandaVision” is firmly anchored in the MCU. And if you’re looking for Easter eggs, pay close attention to the ads. Yes, despite the premiere on the streaming platform, Marvel Studios has inserted its own slightly nefarious ads with brief hints of an evil presence. “Other truths about the show are starting to spread, and the commercials were one of the first ideas for that,” Feige says. “And if that’s the very first thing you watch on the Marvel MCU, it’s just a weird version of an ad from the 50s or 60s that you’ll have to keep watching the show to understand. If you’ve watched movies, you might be able to begin to connect what these things mean with the past. “
Where Monica Rambeau Was Before Captain Marvel Character “WandaVision”
The last time we saw Monica Rambeau’s character, she was just a little girl in the 1995 movie “Captain Marvel”. This little girl is now fully grown (played by Parris) and is sort of entangled in the world of “WandaVision”. “Over the course of the series, we find out what she’s been up to and what’s happened to her between that gap over the years,” Parris said, alluding to something more nefarious. “And how she grew and evolved or … or not.”
When asked if Rambeau had experienced decades of MCU horrors (a global alien attack, with half of the planet’s population disappearing) and how it affected her emotionally, Parris didn’t want to say too much. “We’re actually learning, in particular what these things are that Monica has seen and going on. and how they shaped his life.
“WandaVision” isn’t the last place we’ll see Rambeau as she joins Carol Danvers, Captain Marvel, and Ms. Marvel in the “Captain Marvel 2.” feature film.
Who is the character of Kathryn Hahn?
Similar to Rambeau, Kathryn Hahn’s character Agnes – the curious neighbor next door – also has a mysterious past. Hahn says the show delves into this mystery.
“In all of those classic sitcoms, there’s always that person walking through the doors and sitting on the couch, but you never know anything about them,” Hahn said. “In this classic way, I was able to walk in as Agnes with all these beautiful tropes set up behind me to just continue.
How does “WandaVision” set up the expanding MCU universe on Disney Plus?
“I hope he says get ready for the new and the different,” Feige explained. “I hope all of our movies have said it, but certainly with the Disney Plus opportunities, it’s allowed us to develop creatively, which we do. The original plan was that “Falcon Winter Soldier” would debut last year, followed very soon by “WandaVision”. So creatively it hasn’t been revamped. Part of a long-term plan is having the ability and the ideas on how to mix, when needed. I’m not saying we were prepared for a global pandemic, we weren’t… The Unexpected has often served Marvel Studios well. And that served us well in this case, because this show being our first, I like its audacity, I like its difference. And I love it like I said before, this is something you can only see on a Disney Plus. We have things that you will initially only be able to see in theaters. We have things that could end and are meant to be. And it’s really meant to be seen week after week on TV, which is very different for us.