In WandaVision, Marvel’s love letter to classic sitcoms

With WandaVision – premiering January 15 on Disney + and Disney + Hotstar – the Marvel Cinematic Universe encompasses a format that has never been seen before: a sitcom. Although technically set after the events of Avengers: Endgame, many of WandaVision’s onscreen events are portrayed in the style and looks of American sitcoms from the 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond. I think I love Lucy, the Dick Van Dyke Show, Family Ties or Full House (with sisters Mary-Kate and Ashley from WandaVision star Elizabeth Olsen). Why is it so? That would be a spoiler of course, but the WandaVision cast and makers want you to know that everything comes from a place of love.

Everything you need to know about WandaVision

“I watched too much TV as a kid and TV meant a lot to me, and I found solace in TV families,” said Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, on Zoom in a virtual event for WandaVision on Sunday. “The only thing we talked about early on is: these are not parodies. This is not direct satire. We love this [family sitcoms] and they meant a lot to us, outdated and silly as they may seem now. There’s a comfort factor there. And that was the main factor behind it and of course the comic book inspiration. [in] What made us put these ideas together? “

Olsen noted that she was pulling the work of Mary Tyler Moore (from the Mary Tyler Moore Show and the Dick Van Dyke Show) and Elizabeth Montgomery (from Bewitched Fame) to shape her performance, and “accidentally thrown Lucy in in the ’70s Has [episode] just because there was so much physical comedy. “

True to sitcoms from that time, the first WandaVision episode was filmed in front of a live audience. Olsen said, “It was so nerve-wracking. There was a lot of adrenaline, there was a lot of quick change, and it totally baffled my brain, the idea of ​​not acting in front of an audience but feeding an audience and having a camera. I was very grateful when we added the fourth wall. “

“If you do it in front of this live studio audience, which is kind of a theater TV thing, it really helps,” said WandaVision director Matt Shakman – who directed all nine episodes of the Marvel miniseries. Before filming for the cast and crew, he showed “a lot of old TV series”. After watching, they discussed how comedy had changed over the decades. They also hired coaches to teach the actors how people sounded and moved during this period to “make it as authentic as possible”.

From WandaVision to Tandav, you can stream the following in January 2021

Shakman and Feige even had lunch with Dick Van Dyke himself to help out with this. Shakman said, “You are watching the Dick Van Dyke Show today and it’s as good as it was then. What’s the magic behind it? And I remember Kevin and I had this amazing lunch with Dick Van Dyke that remains one of the great afternoons of my life. And we asked him if you knew what kind of governance is behind the Dick Van Dyke Show. Why did it work so well? And he said if it couldn’t happen in real life, it couldn’t happen on the show, right. So if you do something that is grounded, that is real, and that is in tune with everyone’s experience at home, you can do crazy things. “

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Kathryn Hahn as Agnes in WandaVision
Photo credit: Disney / Marvel Studios

Marvel at the fifties

Of course, WandaVision is not just a sitcom. The two trailers we got strongly suggested that the American suburban setting of the Marvel series is some kind of construct either created by Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch (Olsen) or in which she is trapped. There is enough evidence to support this. For one, [spoilers for a two-and-a-half-year movie] Vision (Paul Bettany) is dead. He was killed by Wanda and Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. Then we have the return now Dr. Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings), previously assistant to astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and now an expert herself, revealed Shakman.

For this tonal shift – from comical to dramatic – the WandaVision creators watched a classic series that explored mysterious beings and strange events in suburban American environments: The Twilight Zone. Shakman said they took inspiration from Rod Serling’s late 50s creation for both shooting and looks.

Skip this field if you want to avoid potential spoilers for WandaVision.

Each episode of WandaVision contains a fake commercial referencing the larger MCU. Many of them involve Hydra, the evil organization that served as the main villain in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Of course, the WandaVision creators wouldn’t reveal what they’re about, but Feige said, “In terms of how other truths of the show come out, commercials were an early idea for it. If this is the very first MCU thing you see, it’s just a weird version of a 50s or 60s commercial that you have to watch over and over again to understand. When you’ve seen all of the movies, you may be able to begin connecting the meanings of these things to the past. “

WandaVision creator and chief author Jac Schaeffer added, “The Twilight Zone has made a huge impact on me personally. I really think that’s how I learned to tell stories. And it was so incredibly skillful at the time. You think you are in something and then suddenly it is turned upside down. And so we were all incredibly in love.

“And then I think there are a lot of current shows right now, like prestige series, doing this very exciting thing where you watch a couple of episodes and think the show is one thing and then it turns into episode four or five to the script. I think that’s really where the more contemporary references in terms of how the genre is crossed come into play. “

More from Wanda and Vision – and beyond

At the same time, WandaVision is giving Marvel fans a lot more time with their leads, whose appearances were largely limited to Avengers films. Wanda first appeared in a post-credits scene attached to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and then made her full debut alongside Vision in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Both returned in Captain America: Civil War, an Avengers film, and were part of the mega-get-together Avengers: Infinity War. Together they had several minutes of MCU screen time. In WandaVision you get several hours.

“Wanda and Vision, as a couple, their love story was so tragic, but also very warm and intimate,” said Schaeffer. “We saw her in those really nice stolen moments in the MCU. It was actually a small amount of screen time, but very powerful and very soulful.

“But what we have with WandaVision is really, I think, everyone’s pleasure that we open up the stage and the space for them. And they’re in this domestic sphere, and we can see them doing the dishes, in the kitchen, and being cute. Just all that kind of homebody thing you’d never see a superhero do. We really go from those huge dramatic moments and difficult moments in the MCU and then in WandaVision, it’s a lot of sweet-sweet until it’s not. “

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Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau in WandaVision
Photo credit: Disney / Marvel Studios

Thanks to the extended runtime, WandaVision can also explore other characters. At the top of the list is Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), a grown-up version of the 11-year-old girl Captain Marvel who chose the typical red and blue costume colors of the title character (Brie Larson). Parris’ Monica will be part of Captain Marvel 2 alongside Carol Danvers / Captain Marvel (Larson) and Kamala Khan / Ms. Marvel (Iman Vellani). Parris’ comments suggest that WandaVision may even have flashbacks to her past.

Parris said, “In WandaVision we are recording with who [Monica] is now a grown woman, and as the show progresses we learn what she’s up to, what happened for her. Between that gap over the years and how it has grown and developed or … not. […] We actually learn what Monica saw and went through and how they shaped her life. I don’t want to give too much away because we will actually tell a lot about it as the show progresses. “

Made for Disney +

After an eight month delay caused by the pandemic, WandaVision will launch the delayed fourth phase of the MCU. ((Black widow was originally slated to do so, but it’s now postponed to May 7.) It’s unlike anything Marvel has done that is both promises and concerns.

Feige said, “I hope it says, ‘Get ready for the new and the different.’ […] With the Disney + opportunities, we were able to creatively expand our activities. Yes, the original plan was The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was supposed to make its first debut last year, followed by WandaVision. We didn’t re-mix creatively. Part of a long lead plan is having the skills and ideas on how to mix, should that be the case. I’m not saying we were prepared for a global pandemic. We were not.

“But the unexpected has often served Marvel Studios well, and in this case it has served us well. because [WandaVision] As our first, I like how brave it is, I love how different it is, and I love that it can only be seen on a Disney +. We have things that you can only see in theaters at first, we have things that are made for them. And that can be seen on TV week after week, which is very different for us. “

WandaVision premieres on January 15th on Disney + and Disney + Hotstar.

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