‘WandaVision’: How Matt Shakman Handled that Big Bohner Twist
WandaVision masterfully played with audiences’ preconceived notions and expectations specifically around the notion of character teases and reveals. Fans were waiting for Blue Marvel, Talos’ daughter, Reed Richards and Mephisto to show up but nothing messed with fans more than Evan Peters. Brought in as a “recast” Pietro, who Agatha called “Fietro”, fans fought tooth and nail over whether or not Peters was Fox’s Quicksilver brought to the MCU through multiversal hijinx or just another stiff from Westview. That was all settled in the finale as Pietro was exposed as Ralph Bohner, a Westview resident who had been powered up by Agatha as a way to take advantage of Wanda’s grief over the loss of her twin.
The Bohner reveal has left some fans feeling pretty raw and has really continued to stick out among the popular topics of conversation even a few days after the show streamed. In an interview with Kevin Smith, WandaVision director Matt Shakman talked about his inspiration for the reveal and how “playing with expectations” is always enjoyable. Shakman mentions how he was inspired to use Bohner by another MCU twist that wasn’t necessarily met with wide-ranging applause: Iron Man 3′s Trevor Slattery/Mandarin twist.
This is what Matt Shakman, the director of WandaVision, had to say about the Ralph Bohner twist.
He compares it to Mandarin in Iron Man 3 and talks about it as "playing with expectations and turning things around" pic.twitter.com/EwiEgEbLFf
— The Marvel Sheriff (Daredevil era) (@MarvelSheriff) March 8, 2021
Whether you love him or hate him, you can’t argue that Peter’s Bohner subverted expectations and did so cleverly within the studio’s genre-specific “rules.” Peters “Fietro” got to explore all the “uncle” sitcom tropes and even the character’s name is yet another sitcom reference, this time a nod to a character from the late-80’s/early-90’s sitcom Growing Pains. At the end of the day, he was never going to be more than a side character brought in to drive the story in one very particular direction.
Even though Peters’ appearance in WandaVision was discovered, the studio still handled the Bohner twist delicately, making sure that the surprise wasn’t blown prematurely. It’s understandable that a lot of fans feel like they’ve been jerked around and are still waiting for the other shoe to drop and for Peters to somehow be revealed as Quicksilver; however, it’s pretty clear that this was the reaction that Shakman and the studio were hoping for and they absolutely nailed it. Kevin Feige has often talked about how even though the MCU is based on comics, he doesn’t want to do direct adaptations because fans would know exactly what to expect. As we enter Phase 4, it looks like The-One-Above-All’s philosophy has grown into something bigger and is going to keep us all on our toes moving forward.