In a challenging year where streaming services like Disney+ brought us together, WandaVision looks to two characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to change the future of television by paying homage to its past. Emmy, the award-winning official publication of the Television Academy, which hits newsstands Dec. 22, talks with series stars Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany and executive producer Kevin Feige about the upcoming series, which premieres Jan. 15, and the future of the fastest-growing platform.
As noted in the emmy cover story, "Not Your Mother's Suburbs," WandaVision follows the 2019 blockbuster Avengers: Endgame and explores the adventures of Wanda Maximoff (Olsen) and her love, an android named Vision (Bettany). When then-Disney CEO Robert Iger approached Feige, Marvel Studios president and chief creative officer, about expanding the MCU, Feige already had an idea of which characters he would showcase. "Elizabeth and Paul were these amazing actors—who had done amazing things in four [Marvel] movies—but never had a chance to dominate the narrative because there was so much else going on. It felt fun to finally give them a platform to showcase their astounding talent," says Feige.
Bettany had assumed that his run as Vision had concluded with his death in Avengers: Infinity War but saw the return of his character as "exciting and bonkers." "Of course I said I was in!" he says. "What I love about Wanda in the comic books, and what drew me to her originally," adds Olsen, "is what we get to explore in a beautiful way."
Matt Shakman, who directed all six episodes of WandaVision and is also an executive producer, describes the show as "a love letter to television." The series draws inspiration from a variety of sitcoms through various eras, including I Love Lucy, The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Brady Bunch. Co-executive producer Mary Livanos says, "The show is complicated because we're incorporating the rules of the MCU and narrowing in on suburban family sitcoms—but not all of the episodes are structurally similar. What's fun about it is that it leads the audience to ask questions about when this takes place or whether this is a social experiment and if this is an alternative reality and an unraveling of the mystery."
Writer and co-executive producer Jac Schaeffer explains that her team did extensive research into sitcom history to ensure that each unique episode was true to its respective decade. The cast even spent a week in sitcom "boot camp" watching classic comedies in order to replicate their style. Additionally, the first episode was shot in front of a live studio audience on an Atlanta soundstage to set the tone for the series.
WandaVision had always planned for a break in production in early 2020, but COVID-19 forced a six-month hiatus. The group logged marathon hours and worked six-day weeks for more than two months to complete the project amid the pandemic. When the series teaser amassed more than 56 million views in its first 24 hours, it was clear that fans were more than ready to experience the next chapter of the MCU on television.
Additional feature highlights from the new issue include:
- In "His Moral Order," six-time Emmy winner Bryan Cranston talks about his return to television in Showtime's Your Honor.
- As PBS's Masterpiece approaches its 50th anniversary, the best of British television has become a staple in American culture. In "A Half-Century of Sundays," emmy looks at some of the franchise's signature shows and successes.
- Emmy talks with actress Gillian Anderson and showrunner/executive producer/writer Peter Morgan about filling the shoes of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the Netflix drama The Crown. In "Scene Steeler," Anderson describes the role as her toughest one yet.
Emmy, the official publication of the Television Academy, goes behind the scenes of the industry for a unique insider's view. It showcases the scope of television and profiles the people who make TV happen, from the stars of top shows to the pros behind the cameras, covering programming trends and advances in technology. Honored consistently for excellence, emmy is a six-time Maggie Award winner as Best Trade Publication in Communications or the Arts and has collected 52 Maggies from the Western Publishing Association. Emmy is available on selected newsstands and at TelevisionAcademy.com for single print and digital copies as well as subscriptions.
Download the press release here.
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