After capping off the Infinity Saga with a two-part cosmic epic, Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is going to explore such new genre territory as a spy thriller (Black Widow), a kung-fu epic (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings), a horror picture (Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness) and... a sitcom?
That’s the unlikely premise of WandaVision, Marvel’s upcoming series for the Disney+ streaming service. Launching in North America on 12 November with the Star Wars series The Mandalorian, Disney+ will officially be the streaming home for fresh MCU content in the Autumn of 2020 when The Falcon and the Winter Soldier drops, reuniting Captain America’s best pals, played by Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan.
WandaVision follows in spring 2021, but shooting is reportedly kicking off this month, with stars Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany set to reprise their roles as Wanda Maximoff, aka the Scarlet Witch, and Vision, respectively.
Here’s everything we know about WandaVision so far.
Yes, it really is a sitcom
WandaVision’s sitcom status was confirmed to Yahoo Entertainment by no less an authority than the Scarlet Witch herself.
Catching up with Olsen and Bettany at Disney’s D23 event in August, the actress told us, “We can confidently say it is [a sitcom].” Her co-star quickly added, “That’s how it begins and it moves into more familiar epic territory later. But it’s absolutely a mash-up of sitcoms.”
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Based on our interviews and concept art unveiled at D23, The Dick Van Dyke Show and Father Knows Best seem to be some of the sitcoms that are being mashed-up.
The teaser image shows Bettany and Olsen in a ’50s suburban setting, dressed more like the Cleavers than the Avengers.
All that’s missing is the laugh track — and Olsen revealed that may not change, “That’s to be decided.”
The supporting cast includes some sitcom experts
While WandaVision’s two stars don’t have much in the way of sitcom experience, they’ll be surrounded by a supporting cast that can show them the ropes.
Kathryn Hahn (Parks and Recreation), Kat Dennings (2 Broke Girls) and Randall Park (Fresh Off the Boat) will bring their multiple seasons’ worth of expertise to the WandaVision set. “It’s an out-there show,” Park revealed when he visited the BUILD Series studios recently, adding that he was about to head to Atlanta for his first table read with the cast.
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“I can’t say too much, but it is an amazing show, and it’s very different.”
Some familiar characters are coming back
Park, of course, isn’t a newcomer to sitcoms or Marvel. The actor joined the MCU in 2018’s Ant-Man and the Wasp as Jimmy Woo, the FBI agent tasked with ensuring that Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) abides by the no-crimefighting terms of his house arrest.
During his BUILD chat, Park said that Woo’s return on WandaVision followed a general meeting with Marvel to discuss the character’s future. “A week after [that meeting], they were like, ‘We want to talk to you about this show,’” he said, with a laugh.
“It’s surreal, because I grew up collecting comic books, and I was a big Marvel fan!” Dennings is also a returning favourite, reprising her scene-stealing Thor role as Darcy Lewis, while Teyonah Parris will play the grown-up Monica Rambeau, previously seen as Auntie Carol’s No. 1 fan in Captain Marvel.
Hahn, on the other hand, is making her MCU debut as the coolest possible character: “Nosy Neighbour.” “My kids are gonna be so proud,” the actress joked to us at D23. We can’t wait to see what Nosy Neighbour’s superhero costume looks like.
You know Wanda; prepare to meet the Scarlet Witch
When Olsen entered the MCU in 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, Disney and Fox both had claims to Wanda’s alter ego due to her status as both an Avenger and a mutant.
As a result, Marvel tweaked her backstory and powers, and also made a point of never using her superhero name. Now that Fox belongs to Disney — and the mutants belong to Marvel — Wanda will finally unleash her inner Witch.
“This show will explore why she’s known as the Scarlet Witch and how she is Scarlet Witch as opposed to Wanda,” Olsen said when she visited BUILD in October. One of the skills the Scarlet Witch has that we haven’t seen Wanda show off yet is the ability to alter the nature of reality itself... which could explain why she and a resurrected Vision are living in ’50s-era suburbia.
He’s a (new) Vision
Tony Stark’s Time Heist brought back many of the heroes who turned to dust following the Snapture. Unfortunately for Wanda, her partner and lover, the Vision remains one of the casualties of Thanos’s Infinity War.
In a post-Endgame world, though, there’s an infinity of ways for Wanda to bring him back, including time-traveling and dimension-hopping, not to mention a potential backup copy on Shuri’s hard drive in Wakanda. We may also see a few different versions of the Vision: One rumour making the rounds online is that Bettany will be modelling the character’s popular ’80s look — when he was more robot than robot-man — at one point during the show.
There is also a theory that the series will loosely borrow from the classic House of M comic storyline, finding Wanda creating her own warped reality. In this case, Wanda, whose love of classic American television was hinted at in Captain America: Civil War, would be so devastated by the death of Vision and the events of the Infinity War that she creates her own world based on old sitcoms and populated by her deceased lover.
When they were very young
First comes love, then comes marriage then comes Vision with a baby carriage. At least, that’s how Vision and Wanda’s romance played out in the comic books, where the duo eventually became the proud parents of two future Young Avengers: Wiccan and Speed.
A WandaVision casting notice that made the rounds last month suggests that Olsen and Bettany may also need to invest in a crib or two. The production appears to be looking for babies under the age of six months for unspecified scenes. Not for nothing, but the Hawkeye series is also set to introduce another Young Avenger teammate: archer extraordinaire Kate Bishop. (Hailee Steinfeld was reportedly the first choice for Bishop, although the Dickinson star has thrown cold water on that idea.)
With the other Avengers getting older, it only makes sense that young recruits could be called up from the Disney+ ranks.
It’s all connected
Where Marvel’s previous forays into television had tenuous at best connections to the cinematic universe (looking at you, Agents of SHIELD), these Disney+ series will continue the overarching narrative that’ll be part of Phase 4.
And in the case of WandaVision, the show will feed directly into the second Doctor Strange movie, where Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sorcerer Supreme will be joined by Olsen’s Scarlet Witch. In fact, Multiverse of Madness is set for release on 7 May, 2021 — mere weeks after WandaVision premieres.
WandaVision premieres on Disney+ in spring 2021. The UK launch date for Disney+ remains to be confirmed.