'WandaVision's Elizabeth Olsen & Paul Bettany on the Love Story & Sitcom Homages
Lights, camera — and loads of action! The wild WandaVision takes characters from Marvel's comics and movies and drops them in fictional American sitcoms inspired by everything from The Dick Van Dyke Show through the more recent Emmy darling, Modern Family.
The ever-changing show picks up after the events of the 2019 blockbuster Avengers: Endgame, and reunites Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) with her love, android Vision (Paul Bettany). Although he died in 2018's Infinity War, here the couple find themselves alive, well…and living in comedic suburban bliss. Confused? So are the characters!
"It’s a brilliant little puzzle box," director Matt Shakman teases. And not even Vision can solve it. "The journey for both of them," says Bettany, "is finding out what the hell is going on."
While they may be mum on the plot that unfolds over six hours, the show's insiders preview a few of their influences.
The Golden Age
"Every sitcom ever made owes a huge debt of gratitude to The Dick Van Dyke Show," says Shakman, who calls it the "chief inspiration" for WandaVision's foray into 1950s and 60s TV. Olsen says the cast and crew had over a week of "sitcom boot camp" and studied old episodes before shooting their black-and-white first episode — which also includes Kathryn Hahn’s (Mrs. Fletcher) mysterious nosy neighbor Agnes — in front of a live studio audience.
Shooting live was "wild," Olsen notes, while adding: "everything was timed so perfectly for the humor [of the time]." The retro moment also reveals some interesting developments for the couple: Wanda and Vision are married, with babies on the way! "It's very focused on their love story," head writer Jac Schaeffer says.
In the following episode, which dives into the 60s, Wanda and Vision put on a magic show in a nod to "It's Magic," the 1965 Bewitched episode. "She's a magician's assistant, helping [Vision] but doing all the tricks for him and not letting the audience know," Olsen says. "It's a very funny, gaggy" moment. The actress explains that we'll see abilities in Wanda that were previously only seen in the comics. Wanda and Vision "progress to a different decade for a reason," she teases.
WandaVision takes another cue from '70s juggernaut The Brady Bunch, even putting together what Olsen calls "a big montage" for the episodes' opening sequence. Adds Bettany, "I got to live out a lot of polyester fantasies! It was extraordinary."
Olsen says she enjoyed the "painfully sincere" '70s and legwarmer-filled '80s, but also the more cynical Modern Family–esque docu-comedy trend of the 2000s: "Those asides to the cameras—it was fun."
And, of course, it all eventually morphs into a "full-on action movie," says Bettany. The action will no doubt involve other players like Teyonah Parris playing grown-up Monica Rambeau from Captain Marvel, a returning Randall Park as FBI agent Jimmy Woo (last spotted in Ant-Man and the Wasp) and Kat Dennings’ Thor scientist Darcy Lewis. We assume no laugh track for that part!
WandaVision, Series Premiere, Friday, January 15, Disney+