In anticipation of its premiere on Disney+ later this winter, WandaVision covers Entertainment Weekly. Even though the profile bills EW’s access as “unprecedented”—there have been Marvel set visits before—this is a pretty standard cover feature for Marvel. They give away tidbits but hardly illuminate the whole project for fans. Devan Coggan visited the set of WandaVision pre-pandemic, when they were filming the show’s pilot episode, which is done in the style of a 1950s sitcom, complete with live studio audience.
Some details are fun, like series director Matt Shakman picking Dick Van Dyke’s brain for what it was like to actually make one of these classic sitcoms, and some details are shocking—I cannot BELIEVE they gave away the name of Kathyrn Hahn’s character. Also, while I realize once you’ve directed episodes of Game of Thrones that’s all anyone will talk about, Matt Shakman also directed over 40 episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, one of the greatest and longest-running sitcoms in television history. If you’re writing an entire profile about how sitcommy a new series is, how do you NOT mention Sunny?
WandaVision has looked good from the start, and this cover profile further raises expectations, as the biggest takeaway here is that everyone involved, from Kevin Feige to Shakman to showrunner Jac Schaeffer, saw this as an opportunity to homage the sitcoms they loved in their youth. And Feige makes a GREAT point about the escapism offered by sitcoms, especially now, when a 30-minute resolution to every problem is particularly comforting. Of course, WandaVision will NOT be that simple, not given Marvel’s interconnectedness and Wanda Maximoff’s strangeness in general, but I fully expect this series to be a breakout hit for Disney+, one that excites people as much as The Mandalorian. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was supposed to be the first Disney+ series from Marvel, but WandaVision is a better introduction to what these series can do that a two-hour Marvel movie can’t.
Story-wise, not much is filled in beyond what we already know: Wanda and Vision are married and living an idyllic suburban life, but obviously something is amiss because Vision is dead and it isn’t 1950, or 1970, or any other past era glimpsed in the trailer. We also already knew that WandaVision would connect directly to Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, and that Teyonah Parris will debut as the adult Monica Rambeau in the series. Again, this profile is not really unprecedented, it results in about the same level of access and information any Marvel feature ever gives us. The one big giveaway is that Kathryn Hahn’s character is named “Agnes”—yes, comic book readers, THAT Agnes. Non-readers, don’t spoil yourself! That’s going to be a VERY fun part of the series.
I am very much looking forward to WandaVision, and to Wanda Maximoff finally getting her close up in the MCU. I can’t wait to meet grown Monica Rambeau, and I REALLY can’t wait to nerd out over all the sitcom stylings on the show. Like Kevin Feige, I think a lot of us grew up with Nick at Nite reruns of classic sitcoms like Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, and The Dick Van Dyke Show, and I expect that nostalgia engine to work quite well. I remain skeptical, however, that WandaVision debuts in 2020. I know they say it will, but they’re still shooting the last two episodes. Marvel has perfected the last-minute delivery at this point, but this is a big ask, especially with all the new protocols introduced by the pandemic. If it does make a 2020 debut, it will probably be on like, December 30. Disney prefers weekly episode drops as opposed to all-out binges, so it’s not like they have to have every episode ready at once, but WandaVision is only six episodes. They don’t have THAT much lead time between premiere week and finale week. If anyone can deliver on such an insane schedule, though, it’s Marvel, but it will take some of Wanda’s reality-bending magic to get it done.