The first Marvel series off the block at Disney+ will be the suburban sci-fi sitcom WandaVision and despite it being from the Marvel Cinematic Universe the cast and crew immersed themselves in the world of classic TV comedies.
The first episode was filmed in black and white live in front of an audience and stars Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen told EW they were terrified at the prospect. At least, they were until they got their first laugh.
Bettany said: “We 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.”
“It was insanity,” said Olsen, laughing. “There was something very meta for my own life because I would visit those tapings as a kid, where my sisters [Mary-Kate and Ashley] were working [on Full House].”
WandaVision head writer Jac Shaeffer said the creatives deliberately studied the world of shows like The Dick Van Dyke Show and Bewitched.
She said: “We’re paying tribute and honouring all of these incredible shows and people who came before us, [but] we’re also trying to blaze new territory.”
The producers invited Dick Van Dyke to lunch at Disneyland, to learn why his classic ’60s sitcom was such a hit.
“[The Dick Van Dyke Show] can be very broad with silly physical-comedy gags, and yet it never feels false, and I wondered how they did that,” explained director Matt Shakman. “His answer was really simple: He basically said that if it couldn’t happen in real life, it couldn’t happen on the show.”
WandaVision also filmed partly the classic sitcom lot, Blondie Street at Warner Bros in Burbank, home to classic sitcom houses from Father Knows Best, The Partridge Family and Bewitched.
“I was kind of surrounded by these ghosts of television past — including my own ghosts,” he said. “I had been there as a kid, and [it] was deeply moving to me that here we were doing something many, many years later. You can’t find a real street that feels like Blondie Street. You need it to have that weird sense of fakeness.”
A six-part, one-hour series, WandaVision picks up after Avengers: Endgame and features witch Wanda Maximoff and robot Vision living the dream suburban life in the town of Westview.
“We find Wanda and Vision living a blissful suburban existence, trying to keep their powers under wraps,” said Schaeffer.
But not everything is as it appears and the couple begin to realise their idyllic, white-picket-fence life is anything but.
Still, despite their apparent incompatibility Wanda and Vision have a tender romance.
“They’ve had a long and gentle love affair, right?” said Bettany. “It’s a pretty quirky relationship. She’s a witch, he’s a robot. Or artificial person, or synthezoid, or whatever your preferred name tag.”
WandaVision was never meant to be the first MCU project to appear in 2020 but coronavirus put paid to any concept of a structured schedule (Black Widow and Eternals were both meant to premiere earlier this year while The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was supposed to stream on Disney_+ in August). But this has been an atypical year and a quirky little charmer like WandaVision may be just the way to finish it.
WandaVision will stream on Disney+ in December.