While WandaVision is Marvel Studios’ first foray into small-screen filmmaking, it’s a far cry from the global, all-action superhero smorgasbord of films like the Avengers franchise, with at least the early episodes instead delivering retro, 30-minute episodes that are closer to classic US sitcom styles than the usual Marvel model.
However, series director Matt Shakman has hinted that fans will be in for bigger action – and longer episodes – as the series continues, with at least one or two episodes possibly lasting close to an hour and featuring “large-scale Marvel action”.
“I will say that one of the joys of doing the show is that we were given so much freedom by Disney+ to create this bonkers show, that allowed us to play with form in every possible way,” Shakman told RadioTimes.com. “And that includes running time.
“We've always been describing it as a mix of classic sitcom and large-scale Marvel action and I think that's very true, it's an accurate way to talk about the show. And it's also been something that [Marvel Studios head] Kevin Feige has been saying since the beginning, is that one of the things he loves so much about this show is that it's just so full of surprises. And when it decides to go big, it goes big.”
For his part, Feige has also confirmed that the episode length starts to “vary more” as the series continues.
“That’s one of the fun things about streaming — and even on the shows that I watch, as a fan: You don’t have the rules of network TV and selling ad time, where it has to start now and end now,” he told TVLine.
“[Episodes] can grow or shift or shrink or expand to fit the story you’re telling. Even in those first three, the lengths are somewhat different, and that will continue through the rest of the show.”
But just how long could the episodes get? While Shakman said that he didn’t want to give “too much specificity” away he did confirm that the series will last roughly six hours total – and with the first three episodes only lasting an hour and a half collectively, there’s easily room for one or more episodes to last over an hour as the series continues, even if there are a couple of 45-minute instalments first.
Certainly, it seems like the shifting format would help fit the evolving nature of the show, which apparently changes regularly over the course of its run.
“Absolutely, the first episode is very much your sort of 'live in front of a studio audience' sitcom from the '50s, whether it's I Love Lucy or The Dick Van Dyke show,” Shakman told us.
“But then things change, of course, and there are other elements that come in, it moves to a kind of Twilight Zone-type place at times, and that does continue to evolve and change, but it's all part of this idea of Wanda and Vision questioning their own reality, and us questioning that along with them.”
Overall, it sounds like WandaVision is set to deliver as many surprises in how the story is delivered as it will in the story itself – and for fans, it’s sure to be an exciting dive into a seriously meta TV universe.
“I don't wanna give too much away, except to just say that the show plays with form and structure constantly,” Shakman told us. “That's one of the great joys of doing it, and hopefully one of the reasons why people might find it interesting.
“There are lots of surprises to come - and how things are structured and how they're presented is one of those surprises."
WandaVision begins streaming on Friday 15th January on Disney+, and releases new episodes on subsequent Fridays. You can sign up to Disney Plus for £5.99 a month or £59.99 a year.
Want something else to watch? Check out our full TV Guide.