Murphy’s Multiverse was fortunate enough to take part in WandaVision’s press junket this past Sunday, and Kevin Feige‘s long and thoughtful answer to a question by our very own Charles Murphy deserves some expanding on. Feige himself said he appreciated the question and were it not for time constraints it seemed he would be willing to dive even deeper into what WandaVision personally means to him, his team, and how those feelings could translate into the show itself.
The show’s initial intent was to simply allow Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany to further explore the characters they’ve both inhabited since 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, while expanding the story of the Scarlet Witch. As things evolved, sitcoms became an integral part of the show, as it was made clear that they would provide an exceptional vehicle to Wanda’s journey. Charles’ question focused on how a personal connection to that format, as well as the medium, might have helped to guide Feige and his team, through such a unique show like WandaVision. A show that seamlessly meshes together all the action, the twists and turns you’ve come to expect from a Marvel Studios project, but that also brings the warmth and comfort behind the nostalgic feel of one of the most iconic television formats of all time. One that brought families together both inside and in front of the television screen for over half a century. And that more often than not managed to go a step further and bring both those worlds together. Feige, Elizabeth Olsen, director Matt Shakman, and a few others that are a part of the production team, all have both personal and professional backgrounds that connect them to sitcoms, and all these ideas that they represent in our, the audiences’, collective imagination, and that shines through.
I watched too much TV as a kid. TV meant a lot to me and I found comfort in television families.
It isn’t an overstatement to reinforce how sitcoms helped shape generations. At one point or another, we’ve all felt a part of the families we saw on-screen on a weekly basis. Their experiences became our experiences, and we often did learn a thing or two. The (sometimes) idyllic settings, the established and safe structure, the way issues were resolved after 20 minutes, all helped in turning the genre into a sort of comfort food for whoever sought a short but much-needed escape. And in the same way, the team behind the show has a very real-world connection to this format of storytelling, the characters within the show are now showing that same longing, respect, and nostalgia towards a, in many ways, better time. It is then through the hearts of the production team that Wanda is also turning to this safe haven to deal with Marvel Universe heartbreak.
From Wanda’s point of view, she would describe WandaVision as a family sitcom of two people trying to fit in. And not be discovered for being different.
Even though there have been hundreds of sitcoms through the years, the ones best suited to intertwine with Wanda’s story, and therefore the ones WandaVision will focus on, are all about family. Those are the truly timeless ones, the ones exploring family dynamics that remain relevant to this day. Nowadays we might talk differently, dress differently, act differently, but the underlying issues are largely the same. Connecting with our loved ones, understanding each other, sharing the days, the weeks and months, entire lifetimes. And that’s where Wanda finds herself. Trying to reconnect, trying to take advantage of a chance to live as normal a life as the ones she saw portraited on TV, trying to enjoy the time she was never given before.
There were a lot of different sorts of workplace sitcoms and other types of sitcoms, but the family piece sort of kept us very very centered.
Through the years, TV ended up losing that unabashed optimism and innocence, as problems became more serious, family relations became more complex and reality began to set in a little bit more with the passing of time. The evolution that TV in general, and sitcoms in particular, went through seems to mimic what Wanda will have to endure in order to get to the present day, as hard as getting away from a more comfortable reality may turn out to be. So being, her search for family, for the normal sort of happiness her subconscious envisions as the only comfortable place for her to be in, (and that we as an audience without reality-warping powers share on a different level when reminiscing about quieter times in our youth) will need to face a tough truth. There always comes a time when the real world comes calling and there is little more to do than to turn off the metaphysical tv and soldier on. We are now left wondering if Wanda will find the remote so she can do the same.