With episode 4 of Disney+’s WandaVision out now fans are continuing to learn, little by little, the mystery of how Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) got trapped in a decade-changing sitcom series.
This week’s episode features the most scenes with Teyonah Parris’ Monica Rambeau and we actually learned what happened to her after Thanos’ snap and what she’s actually doing at S.W.O.R.D. We also were officially reintroduced to Randall Park’s Jimmy Woo (last seen in Ant-Man and the Wasp) and Kat Dennings’ Darcy Lewis (last seen in Thor: The Dark World).
WandaVision‘s head writer, Jac Schaeffer, spoke to Shadow and Act earlier this week ahead of episode 4’s debut to talk about the show’s sitcom sensibilities, easter eggs that fans are pointing out, how the show mixes trauma with comedy and more.
How much of the sitcom aspect of it was already built out and how did you approach carving all of those different aspects into the show?
When I came on board, the concept was the history of sitcoms and Wanda and Vision what it was with a lot of sort of ideas and a lot of research about sitcoms. Then my task and my pitch was to make sense of that and try and to craft a show from that concept. So what you see in the show is the product of my work and that of the writers. We broke the episodes and decided sort of what went where in regard to the sitcom and then also with regard to the larger mystery of the show.
It would be an understatement to say that people are digging the sitcom vibe. Were you expecting this reaction or were you worried that Marvel fans may not get it or people who are not into classic sitcoms wouldn’t get it? How were your feelings like as far as the reception in the sense that this is so vastly different than everything else in the MCU?
I was very nervous. I always believed in the show and always felt that I had a true north in terms of what the tone was and what it should be. And it has, you know, Matt’s work and that of all the department heads and Kevin [Feige]’s leadership and Mary Livanos is my producer. All of these people, the execution is what we envisioned in the writer’s room, so love the show and I believe in it, [but] I was very worried that there might not be an appetite for it. My biggest fear was that people would watch episode one and their response would be ‘What was that?’ And I think one of the really smart things that, that Kevin and Disney+ did was to drop two episodes on the first day, because I think people needed to have faith that it was, that is going somewhere and have a fuller understanding of what they were going to be given in each episode.
So I think I attribute that as being part of why it worked. It’s incredible that people are responding or are responding to it and are loving it. We grounded the sitcoms by focusing on Wanda and Vision’s love story and trying to have that feel as real and true and intimate as we could. And it was always my hope that maybe if people weren’t super down for the sitcom, that they would be charmed by Wanda and Vision. And I think that has happened for the most part.
I know we can’t get into spoiler territory too much, but I do know Kevin Feige has said the story of WandaVision is kind of like a mixture of several different comics involving the characters, but fans are convinced House of M is the primary inspiration. Is there one in particular that you used when crafting the story?
No, there isn’t. I mean, we had like all of them on our table in the writer’s room and we had art from them up on the walls and it was everything sort of went into the mix. There’s truly not one that I can point to and say, this is it, which is true to the general philosophy of the MCU. It’s rare that something is lifted directly from a comic. It always goes through the MCU filter and becomes its own thing. Which also like in writing for Wanda and Vision, I was writing for the Wanda and Vision in the MCU and not the Wanda and Vision in the comics. But it’s so fun to have all of those influences and ideas at our disposal because they just make the conversation richer. And of course, there are, you know, easter eggs and illusions and threads that tie to all of that stuff.
I’m always getting caught up in the rabbit holes of YouTube videos breaking down each episode. Some of the fan theories are really out there. Do you think that, in a general sense, each of the purported easter eggs are purposeful in the greater sense of storytelling for WandaVision?
The fan engagement is so phenomenal and the things that some people pull out either aren’t intentional or aren’t interpreted the way they’re being interpreted. But I would never tell a fan how to consume their favorite things. And I think for a lot of fans, the pleasure is in the sort of picking apart of the puzzle and trying to solve the mystery. I think what I would say is there will be developments in the show that no one can predict, you know, that don’t have planting in the form of Easter eggs. So I love the theorizing and I think it’s so wonderful, and it’s my hope that people will be surprised by how they’re surprised, if that makes sense.
I’m kind of seeing hints of it now, but I definitely feel like in future episodes we’re going to dive into the aspect of trauma and how Wanda is processing events and things. How did you get the more serious aspects of how Wanda is dealing with all of this and juxtapose it with the I Love Lucy and Family Ties of it all.
We spoke in the writer’s room and with Kevin and with Mary Livanos and there were a lot of conversations about why do we love sitcoms. And it’s because of the comfort and the familiarity and the fact that you can count on a sitcom to wrap up nicely and to not have any trauma. We all have trauma in our lives. And I think that was the intersection that made so much sense to us is that it’s a natural escape for anyone. And as far as Wanda and her trauma and her history, the best way to write in my opinion is to take a character’s internal life seriously. And so we we did a lot of work examining her, her history and sort of turning over the stones of her past and how it informs every aspect of the show. And that’s Lizzie, she’s such an incredible performer. And she brought all of that to everything. It’s like, it’s always there and when it comes to the surface, it’s so beautiful.
WandaVision airs new episodes Fridays on Disney+.