WandaVision, the Disney+ limited series detailing the curious domestic bliss of Marvel superheroes Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany), had the huge responsibility of officially introducing the world to Phase Four of the Marvel Extended Universe, and shouldered it admirably. Following his definitive death in Avengers: Infinity War, the show sees Vision somehow alive and thriving with his true love, Wanda, in the suburbs—a place that couldn't be further from the world-ending dangers of superheroism. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has come a long way since Tony Stark shoved a battery in his heart and stuffed himself inside a tin can in Iron Man (2008). In fact, that movie, which birthed the MCU—feels downright grounded compared to WandaVision, in which a wielder of Chaos Magic and a sentient synthezoid live out the most popular sitcoms of each decade while something nefarious lurks just out of frame.
Every sitcom trope is on display, right down to the nosy neighbor (in this case, Kathryn Hahn's Agatha), but the series is far more than a parody of The Brady Bunch. It busts the fourth wall down, Hulk-style, to follow FBI Agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park), SWORD Agent Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), and astrophysicist Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) as they investigate the disturbances emanating from the neighborhood Wanda and Vision find themselves living in. Plus, like everything Marvel, it ties into past films and sets the stage for the upcoming Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.
1. Jimmy Woo's introduction in WandaVision is a nod to Ant-Man.
WandaVision is set after the events of Avengers: Endgame (2019) and a few years after the events of Ant-Man and the Wasp, where Agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) makes his first appearance as the agent assigned to monitor Scott Lang's (Paul Rudd) house arrest. During his time with the ankle monitor, Lang teaches himself sleight of hand and wows Woo with his ability to produce cards out of thin air. As Agent Woo comes on the scene in WandaVision, he uses the same method to produce his business card out of thin air to give to Agent Rambeau.
2. Vision had to be painted blue for WandaVision's black-and-white segments.
WandaVision's production team was laser-focused on matching the look and feel of all the sitcoms they were paying tribute to—they even used wires to make things fly around instead of using CGI in order to be more authentic to the special effects available in the era of each TV show. But they realized they couldn't make their Dick Van Dyke-looking dreams come true with Vision's original purple color because it didn't screen well in black-and-white. In order to capture just the right tint, they ended up painting Bettany as if he were a member of the Blue Man Group.
3. Kevin Feige was inspired by Spike Lee to squish names together for WandaVision's title.
You never know when inspiration will strike. WandaVision is based on the House of M and The Vision and the Scarlet Witch comic book series, but Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige didn't want to use either name for the show's title. The idea for the name WandaVision came from a 2018 AFI luncheon Feige attended, where he saw the title for Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman spelled out. "I remember thinking, ‘How cool is that? They just mushed those two words together and the audience just accepts that as a title,'" Feige explained to Rolling Stone.
4. Wanda's "Previously On" voice gets progressively more bleak as WandaVision progresses.
WandaVision may begin with the frivolous nonsense of a Dick Van Dyke parody, but the ride gets downright nihilistic along the way, exploring the damage we can do when we don't fully process grief. To match the tone, every time Wanda prompts the recap, her voice is less and less joyful, until it sounds as if she's had to drag herself out of bed to say "Previously on ..."
5. WandaVision showrunner Jac Schaeffer wanted the series to violate the social contract of sitcoms.
Sitcoms are the backbone of WandaVision's tone and look, and the emotional bedrock on which Wanda places her wounded psyche. She's not alone: Sitcoms have offered these sorts of low-stakes escapism for decades, and showrunner Jac Schaeffer understood the power of that relationship. "With a sitcom, with comedies, the creators make a pact with the audience that you’re in a safe space," she told Rolling Stone. "Everything’s going to be resolved." But Schaeffer wanted WandaVision to be different and "break from that and violate that agreement."
6. Eagle-eyed WandaVision viewers noticed a Blade Runner Easter egg.
Blade Runner (1982), Ridley Scott's classic sci-fi noir, focuses on police officer Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) hunting down synthetic humanoid Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) and questioning his own humanity (and possible synthetic nature) along the way. WandaVision paid tribute to its forerunner by including Tannhauser Gate as one of the films advertised on the local cinema marquee—a reference to Batty's immortal monologue where he reckons that all his memories (including watching "C-Beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate") will disappear once he is gone. Like Batty, Vision deals with the prospect of his digital memories being erased in the climax of WandaVision.
7. Kat Dennings purposefully kept herself in the dark with WandaVision.
While the entirety of Marvel fandom is constantly hungry for any scrap of information of projects, Kat Dennings was content to only read her portion of episode scripts so that she could maintain a kernel of surprise for all the twists and turns that her character learns alongside the audience. "I'm not a good enough actor to fake not knowing anything," she jokingly told Entertainment Weekly.
8. The first episode of WandaVision was filmed in front of a live studio audience.
As a testament to how serious WandaVision's creator were about getting the sitcom vibe right, they legitimately filmed The Dick Van Dyke Show episode in front of a studio audience. Bettany said he was "nervous" to perform live and compared hitting marks on set and hanging out at the prop table backstage to doing a "school play."
9. Dick Van Dyke gave WandaVision's creators some tips.
Director Matt Shakman has filmed both sitcoms (like It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's "The Nightman Cometh" musical episode) and action-packed series like Game of Thrones, so he was an ideal choice for the mash-up show. He and Feige knew that to get the tone right for the first episode, they needed to go to the source, so they had lunch with the legendary Dick Van Dyke at Disneyland to get an understanding of how his broad, pratfall comedy worked. "His answer was really simple: He basically said that if it couldn't happen in real life, it couldn't happen on the show," Shakman revealed. Obviously they violated that idea with all the floating kitchenware, but they got the mannerisms and tone down just right.
10. We almost got to see Señor Scratchy as a monster in WandaVision.
The WandaVision finale had a scene that involved the investigative team and Wanda's boys finding Señor Scratchy, Agatha's pet rabbit, in her basement lair. "And they're like, 'Oh it's Señor Scratchy, he's the best!'" Shakman explained to Kevin Smith on his podcast. "And they reach over the scratch him and he hisses and this whole American Werewolf in London transformation happens where the rabbit turns into this big demon. And a Goonies set piece ensues where they try to escape from the rabbit. We shot it, but didn't finish all the VFX for it." Hopefully it will show up on YouTube or as a Blu-ray extra in the near future.