On Sunday afternoon, the cast and crew responsible for bringing WandaVision to life assembled virtually for a press conference to discuss te upcoming Disney+ series. WandaVision is the first Disney+ series to come from Marvel Studios after unexpected schedule changes throughout 2020 had the now well-received entry to the Marvel Cinematic Universe jump to the front of the long line of Marvel titles. The series is directed by Matt Shakman and written by Jac Shaeffer, starring Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Teyonah Parris, and Kathryn Hahn. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige serves as a producer.
All of the above names joined the virtual press conference on Sunday, a private live stream where they discuss the return of the Marvel Cinematic Universe for the first time since Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home closed out the Infinity Saga in the summer of 2019.
When the press conference kicks off at its scheduled 1pm ET / 10am PT start, this article will be updated periodically throughout the conference. Full coverage will be found here and across ComicBook.com/Marvel as exclusive interviews, trailers, and other WandaVision bits continue to roll out. For more, tune into ComicBook.com’s Phase Zero podcast on January 15 and every Friday.
Jaleel White, a sitcom star himself from Family Matters, is moderating the press conference. White worked with Shakman in the past. He introduces the panel. White starts with Olsen, asking about working in front of a live audience.
“It was the first thing we shot. It was so nerve racking and there was a lot of adrenaline, a lot of quick changes, and it totally confused my brain,” she said. “I was really grateful when we added the fourth wall!” It took her a minute to understand how to not perform for the audience but feed off of their energy. “I think it was an amalgamation of Mary Tyler Moore and Elizabeth Montgomery and I think I threw in some Lucy in the 70s because there was a good bit of physical comedy.”
What keeps Vision honest at all times?
“He’s alwayus been becoming something else. He’s JARVIS, he’s part Ultron, he’s part Tony Stark. He’s omnipotent,” Bettany sys. “He’s this naive….I realized I’ll just throw a little bit of Dick van Dyke in there, a little bit of Hugh Laurie…I think what Vision is is just decent and honorable and exists for Wanda.” Vision needs “a lot of wigs,” to blend into the community.”
Has Hahn ever had a nosy neighbor like her character?
“We did have a neighbor that was very much like this, as well, tat would pop over unannounced,” Hahn says.
He asks Parris about Monica Rambeau as a character.
“Basically, in WandaVision, we pick up with who she is now as a grown woman. Through the course of the show we find pout what she’s been up to, what’s happened to her in tat gap,” Rambeau said. “We will get to see Monica join Carol Danvers, Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel in Captain Marvel 2!”
Shakman detailed how the production design, the performances, the laugh tracks, the dialect coaches, and more all factored into bringing different eras of sitcoms together. “It goes pretty crazy, I wouldn’t wanna ruin it for anybody, but we take quite a trip,” Shakman says about the eras still to come after three episodes.
White asks writer Shaeffer about Wanda and Vision’s past relationship and how WandaVision furthers that.
“Wanda and Vision are, as a couple, a fan favorite,” Shaeffer said. “Their love story has been so very tragic but really warm and intimate. We’ve seen them in these stolen moments in the MCU…what we have with WandaVision…is we are opening up the stage and the space for them and they are in this domestic sphere. We get to see them doing dishes in the kitchen….all thhis homebody stuff you would never see a super hero participate in. We go from this enormous moments in the MCU and then in WandaVision it’s a lot of cute, cute, until it’s not.
How did she maneuver writing the dialect?
“It was like doing an accent or a period piece,” she says. “In the early ones, it genuinely was a research thing…Then as we move forward, the sitcoms of the 80s, that’s just burned into my actual DNA so that was not so much of a challenge.”
Will there be more Marvel sitcoms?
“We’ll see. This was our test run,” Feige says. “Marvel has had a lot of good successful TV in the past. This was Marvel Studios first foray,” he goes on, noting this is the cast from movies. “The idea always was, yes, to do something that could not be done as a feature that plays with the format and plays with the medium. There were a lot of meeting bfefore everyone understood what we were trying to go for…We’re able to turn a whacky idea into a whackier show…It worked out perfectly that this is the debut of on Disney+ for the MCU.”
How did they get to know physical movements from different decades best and how does it evolve??
“There is a lot more slapstick and physical comedy early on,” Bettany said. “Luckily, by the time we get to the 90s, they’ve all made me look so ridiculous that I really didn’t have to work that hard for laughs.”
“The way women move throughout the decades changes so much when it comes to what society wants from them,” Olsen says. “Jac did write in quite a few nods to how those were evolving, throughout the sixties, she gets to wear some pants which would adjust how someone moves through space…manners were a huge a part of every decade. We would get this book that depicted manners at the time.” She notes that this is not a real sitcom, but a world where they are acting like it’s a real sitcom.
Was there any hesitation in starting MCU Phase 4 with WandaVision, given how different it is? Are Marvel fans more open to risks?
“I hope it says, ‘Get ready for the new and the different,'” Feige says. “Certainl, with the Disney+ opportunities it has allowed us to expand creatively what we do. [TFATWS] was gonna debut first last year, followed very soon behind by WandaVision. Creatively, it didn’t reshuffle. “This required no shuffling whatsoever in terms of the creative…As is often the ase when you’re thrown curveballs, the unexpected has often served MAavel Studios well and it is served us well in this case because this show, being our first one, I love how bold it is…We have things that you will only be able to see initially in theaters…this is very much made to be seen week after week on television which is very different for us.”
They have a plan for shuffling things, but “I’m not saying we were prepped for a global pandemic, we were not.”
How did they master the tonal shifts from a cinematic standpoint in how intense moments contrast the sitcom format.
“It was going into a kind of a twilight Zone,” Shakman said. “That’s how we approached the shooting of it and the look of it.”
“Twilight Zone is an enormous influence on me, personally,” Shaeffer said. “It was so incredibly deft at that turn. You think you’re in one thing and then suddenly it’s flipped on its head. We were all incredibly enamored by that. There”s a lot of current shows right now, prestige series, where you watch a couple episodes and you think the show is one thing and then by episodes 4 or 5 it flips the script.””
Insight to HYDRA or MCU reference in commercials?
“Commercials was an early idea for that,” Feige said of how the real world will leak into the sitcom of it all. “If this is the very first Marvel, MCU thing you’re watching, it’s just a strange version of a 50s commercial or 60s commercial. If you have been watching all those movies, you might be able to start connecting what all those things mean from the past.”
Was there anything they caught in the decades old sitcoms that they refused to include in this?
“When we looked back and we were doing our research…there were shows that were a little disappointing and were not acceptable for today,” Shaeffer said. “We had a really incredible writer’s room full of people who part of our job was to keep an eye on these things. As Matt said, we zero-ed in on family sitcoms…the family piece kept us very centered. I can’t speak to the larger puzzle of what the show is but that was also a piece that kept us on the right track.”
How did casting Kathryn Hahn come about?
“In my memory, it all happened very quickly,” Feige said. Hahn came in for a general meeting, which is a rare thing at Marvel Studios. “She was a fan of what we were up to and we’re fans of hers and at exactly tat same time we were sitting in that writing room trying to figure out who should play Agness…It’s usually never as perfect at this…it also solidified the voice of the character…who is the greatest nosy neighbor in the world right now? Not in real life, Kathryn, I’m not sure, but on screen!”
Did Feige see anything in the making of The Mandalorian that he applied to WandaVision?
“WandaVision, we were all underway long before we saw The Mandalorian,” Feige said “There is lots and lots of The Mandalorain that has inspired us at Marvel Studios, not the least of which is the stage craft that were using on some upcoming projects…It wad amazing to see the marketing job Disney did in event-izing that…These projects on Disney+_ are as important the projects going into theaters…They certainly showed they can do that on Disney+ with Mandalorian . The fun week to week, the discussion, sometimes series drop all at once on the streaming services, Disney+ I think was very smart to drop weekly…” He credits the conversations for helping build excitement and looks forward to that happening with WandaVision.”
How did Olsen maneuver using Wanda’s powers within a sitcom?
“I can’t wiggle my nose,” Olsen admits, “So, we had to find something that was a translation,” she says. The effects team became “puppeteers of tings floating in the sky and dealing with magnets to make things spin.” There was also “holding still” and “trying to remember your body” for te next sot where an outfit or something changes.
How would Wanda Maximoff describe WandaVision?
“She would describe WandaVision as a family sitcom of two people trying to fit in and not be discovered for being different,” Olsen says.
How have the events of the MCU shaped Monica and Agness’ lives?
“They have definitely been through some things and seen some things,” Parris says. “We actually do get to learn, particularly, what those things are that Monica has seen and gone through and how they have shaped her life. I don’t want to give too much away because we will actually touch a lot of that as we go through the show.”
“There’s always that person that busts trough the doors and sits on the couch but their personal life, you never get to know anything about them,” Hahn says. “In that classic way I was able to walk into it as Agness wit all of those beautiful tropes behind me to just build on.”
Where does Phase 4 end? Feige won’t comment.