Meet WandaVision: Lovers, Revived Sitcoms and “Snotgate”
WandaVision, the six-hour mini-series starring Paul Bettany as the Vision and Elizabeth Olsen as the Scarlet Witch, will launch the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s move onto the Disney+ streaming service.
The very anticipated series pulls inspiration from multi-issue comics and classic sitcoms – “from campy 1950s classics to the zany family shows of the ’90s” – according to Entertainment Weekly.
Here is what we learned at MarvelBlog:
Wanda, Welcome Home: Live Studio Audience for Premiere
The first episode of the inaugural live-action MCU show on Disney+ was filmed in front of a live studio audience. The decision to film in front of a live studio audience for the first episode is a homage to Lucille Ball and Desi Aranz, the creators of I Love Lucy. According to the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the couple’s sitcom was the first scripted-show to be shot on 35-millimeter film in front of a studio audience.
For true believers (like me) who are upset about not receiving an invite to this event, do not worry: most of the audience were posh journalists who are very invested in informing you that they signed NDAs before they attended.
According to Entertainment Weekly, the outlet that ran the exclusive, Olsen and Bettany were excited about performing in front of a live studio audience (perhaps because both Olsen and Bettany each come from theater backgrounds).
Bettany said that the cast “were all so high by the end of it, we wanted to keep on running the show. Maybe take it out on tour or something. WandaVision on ice.”
Olsen chimed in that filming the show felt “very meta for [her] own life because [she] would visit those tapings as a kid, where my sisters were working [on Full House].”
Practical Hex Magic Creates “Strange Fantasy World”
Pulse journalists on the scene also reported that Disney’s magical world was in full swing at the WandaVision studio. Kevin Feige, who wants to welcome more fans into the “strange fantasy world” of the MCU, made sure that from the moment the press walked on to set they entered the twisted suburban bliss of Wanda Maximoff and the Vision.
The special-effects team arrived on set in 1950s era clothing – typical (but nevertheless magical) Disney flare. And, they used old-school cinematography magic and practical effects to capture the MCU’s power couple’s dreamy vintage glow in real life.
Also, the special-effects team reportedly used numerous tricks to fool the live studio audience. According to the EW reporter, in the premiere episode, fans should expect to see “wine bottles appear to pour on their own and household appliances zoom about like magic.”
And, Olsen got into the spirit. She said about filming the series:
For people who love to learn about behind-the-scenes magic as much as me, the Disney+ original series Prop Culture is a great place to start (and while every episode is amazing, the one on Who Framed Roger Rabbit has plenty of vintage magic to get you in the WandaVision spirit).
Kevin Feige’s Vision Shines with Sitcom Tropes
Feige is credited with the idea to put Wanda Maximoff and Vision “in a strange fantasy world of suburban bliss.” Maybe this is because the President and Chief Creative Officer of Marvel is a self-declared sitcom nerd:
“I would get ready for the day and watch some old sitcom because I couldn’t take the news anymore,” he said about filming other installments in the franchise.
“Getting ready to go to set over the last few years, I kept thinking of how influential these programs were on our society and on myself, and how certain I was using it as an escape from reality where things could be tied up in a nice bow in 30 minutes.”
However, the couple played at suburban bliss since the laugh track replaced the live studio audience. And, perhaps Feige is alluding to some of Scarlet Witch and Vision’s more infamous storylines when he discusses the sitcom as a way to “escape from reality.”
“We’ve cracked open this other part of [Wanda].”
Olsen said that she has really loved doing WandaVision because the show is a chance to explore her character’s past and the full extent of her powers. Joss Whedon referenced specific Scarlet Witch comic storylines when he recruited Olsen for the role — and although she won’t reveal which ones due to spoilers, she says we’ll finally get to see some of those stories play out through the Disney+ series.
But I have some guesses which storylines Olsen is “hungry” to explore in WandaVision – see the images below for my theories!
Olsen told EW that:
“It’s been the biggest gift that Marvel’s given me, getting to do this show. You get to just focus on [Scarlet Witch] and not how she felt through everyone else’s storylines. I already felt like I had ownership of her because Marvel always encourages you to be part of the process. But even more so now, I feel I have a really strong sense of ownership. If anyone wanted to ask me a question about the future or just a question about what she would think, I feel like this time has provided that.”
WandaVision Set Some “Time” After Avengers: Endgame
EW confirms that the mini-series takes place after the events of Avengers: Endgame in the suburban town of Westview. Given that Thanos blipped Wanda and killed Vision before the events of Endgame, this makes sense. However, we do not know exactly “when” the series will take place because our heroes seem to be moving through time. Or, is it realities?
Jac Schaeffer, WandaVision‘s head writer, teases the premiere of the show:
“We find Wanda and Vision living a blissful suburban existence, trying to keep their powers under wraps.”
But, as usual, when the Scarlet Witch tries to keep her powers under wraps, things go wrong. As the couple moves through time and familiar sitcom tropes, they realize their white-picket-fence is nothing more than glamour. And, probably not the right kind.
Snotgate: She Knows. They Both Do.
The series is grounded in Wanda and Vision’s romance despite the reality-bending, time-traveling romp through sitcom history. Schaeffer hopes the show highlights this odd-couple romance.
“It’s always so appealing when outsiders find each other,” Schaeffer says. “They’re both different with capital Ds. Wanda has so much pain, and Vision has so much curiosity.”
Olsen also has many fond things to say about her co-star, Bettany, as the pair have formed a friendship over the years. And, in an endearing platonic-lovers quarrel, the pair joke about the only argument they have had to the EW reporter, which they have dubbed “Snotgate.”
While filming in cold weather before the COVID-19 pandemic, Olsen and Bettany shared a passionate kiss on-screen when someone’s nose started running. And, in one of the most endearing parts of the interview, neither actor can agree whose nose was the guilty party:
According to Bettany: “[Olsen will] tell you a crock of s— about whose snot it was. I know the truth, and people shouldn’t be fooled by her story.”
Olsen retorts: “When he has that makeup on, he can’t really feel his leaking fluids anyway, like I can. I was like, ‘You can’t even tell you’re snotting! I can! You can’t feel your face ’cause it’s covered in paint!'”
It seems the pair is already getting into the newlywed spirit while on the press junket!
“Six Marvel Movies” in One WandaVision Series
Mary Livanos, Director of Production and Development at Marvel Studios, said that one of the exciting challenges of bringing these characters to the small screen is the interconnectedness of the Cinematic Universe. Speaking to ComicBook.com in 2019, Livanos said:
“It’s really incredible to be able to tell a long-form story the way the comics did. In a sense, [a TV show] is a multi-issue comic-book run, which is something that, from the Marvel development side, we do understand.”
And, Marvel is really taking this to heart.
Teyonah Parris will introduce audiences to an adult Monica Rambeau in the Disney+ series. “Lieutenant Trouble” first appeared in Captain Marvel as the daughter of Air Force pilot Maria Rambeau; for now, all we know about the character’s role in WandaVision is that she will be working with S.W.O.R.D.
— Entertainment Weekly (@EW) November 11, 2020
I hoped that Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was going to end with “Agents of S.W.O.R.D.” So, I want to see my favorite LMD, Phil Coulson, to come back to help save the world one more time… Even if Wanda, Vision, and the future Captain Marvel do not need the help.
According to Parris, high-stakes, fun action is something fans can look forward to when watching the mini-series: “I was like, ‘Oh, I thought we were doing a little show,’ but no, it’s six Marvel movies packed into what they’re presenting as a sitcom.”
Feige Hopes WandaVision Enchants New and Old Fans
Over the past decade (or so), Marvel Studios has demonstrated that it does the superhero blockbuster better than anyone else. And, Marvel hopes WandaVision will be the beginning of a long-running television dynasty.
The studio already has seven additional shows in development, with each one connecting to the MCU. For example, WandaVision, Feige notes, will directly set up Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. In the film, Olsen’s witch is playing a pivotal role alongside the Sorcerer Supreme.
However, Marvel also hopes that WandaVision will stand on its own, like other breakaway Disney+ hits.
Feige says the inaugural Disney+ show will be perfect for people looking for a starting place in the MCU:
“If you haven’t seen any of them and just want to step into this weird thing because you love The Dick Van Dyke Show, it’s going to work. But if you’ve been tracking the 23 movies we’ve made and following along the stories into Phase 4, there’ll be a wealth of rewards waiting for you as it all unfolds.”
WandaVision was not supposed to kick-off the next phase of the MCU. After Endgame in 2019, Black Widow was slated to kick-off Phase 4 in May 2020 and then Eternals. Then, Disney+ was supposed to debut The Falcon and the Winter Soldier in the fall. But after the ongoing coronavirus pandemic shut down, it was WandaVision that was closest to completion. Therefore, it will also be the first MCU programming to premiere on Disney+ this winter.