WandaVision has proven one of the most ambitious entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and that’s saying a lot for a studio that assembled some 300 superheroes (rough estimate) for Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.
While most fans seemed to relish in the classic sitcom-on-acid approach to portraying the current lives of Wanda/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) as a bonkers version of June and Ward Cleaver, there were murmurs that the show, even as it dispensed increasingly sinister hints, wasn’t “Marvelly” enough.
Then came the gauntlet-dropping Episode 4, which took us out of the cozy suburban confines of Westview, N.J., and into the adjacent camp set up by S.W.O.R.D. (the new S.H.I.E.L.D.) to investigate Wanda’s reality-warping weirdness — bringing back MCU favorites Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) and Dr. Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) in the process.
As WandaVision creator and head writer Jac Schaeffer tells us in an interview this week, deciding when and how to peel back the curtain on Westview was one of the biggest decisions she and her fellow Marvellites had to make.
“One of the things that’s so wonderful about sitcoms is it makes an agreement with the audience; when you sit down for a sitcom, you know what you’re going to get, that’s why we love it,” Schaeffer says (watch above). “I wanted to manipulate that. I wanted to take advantage of that, violate that pact that a sitcom has with its audience.
“But on the flip side, I wanted to make sure that the fans felt taken care of. … Everybody shows up to a Marvel property with a certain expectation. In our show, it’s not doled out in the previously established mode. But it is there. It was my hope that people would hang on in order to sort of achieve the answers and the thrills and the distinct Marvel style that we’re now providing.”
That new Marvel style kicked into full gear in the opening moments of Episode 4, which shows Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) — previously portrayed as a slightly befuddled resident of Westview who gets booted out of Wanda’s fantasy/simulation/whatever at the end of Episode 3 — returning from the so-called “Blip” caused by Thanos’s snap that decimated half of the universe’s population in Infinity War.
Schaeffer admits she wasn’t initially sure Marvel would allow her to incorporate the Blip into the series.
“Episode 4 was always meant to be a this kind of reset and step outside and answering of questions. And tonally, had to be a complete about-face” she explains. “Most importantly, it was the introduction to adult Monica [the character was previously seen as a child in Captain Marvel]. This was a way to see her in a crisis scenario, to learn about her in that space. And then [director Matt Shakman] and the production team brought so much energy to that shot, to the steadicam feel of it, the intensely POV feel of it.”
While we now know of Monica’s fate during the Blip, the show doesn’t reveal what happened to either Jimmy (previously seen chasing Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang around the Ant-Man movies) and Darcy (beloved former assistant to Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster in the Thor films).
Park says he asked around about it but got “various theories.”
“My theory is that he wasn’t. But I’m not for sure. I mean, he had to learn those card tricks,” Park says referencing Jimmy’s much-meme’d arrival to the series, a sleight of hand that called back an exchange he had with Lang.
Dennings got a more direct answer: “I asked, and we decided Darcy was not blipped. So all I want in this life is to do a flashback of Darcy not being blipped. That’s my dearest wish, so maybe one day?”
WandaVision is currently streaming on Disney+.
Watch Bettany and Olsen talk about the series:
— Video produced by Jon San and edited by Luis Saenz
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