You'll Love WandaVision Even More After Reading These Behind-the-Scenes Tidbits
WandaVision, the first Marvel Studio's television show, just kicked off the start of phase four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it's nothing short of fantastic! Although one of the strangest Marvel entries yet, the nine-episode series marks a great reintroduction into the MCU and segue to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Weird, unsettling, and hilarious, WandaVision follows Wanda Maximoff, played by Elizabeth Olsen, and Vision, played by Paul Bettany, living a blissful suburban existence all while hiding their powers. Meanwhile, the unusual couple finds clues that suggest all is not what it seems, as each episode jumps from decade to decade.
While we celebrate the highly anticipated release of the show, we've gathered 16 fascinating facts that even the biggest Marvel fans probably don't know. How did the cast prepare for WandaVision? What is Olsen's favorite decade? How did Bettany find out about WandaVision? Find out ahead!
There's One Trope Iconic '50s Sitcom Move Olsen Couldn't Pull Off
The one trick Olsen couldn't nail was Bewitched star Elizabeth Montgomery's nose wiggle. So, instead, Olsen waves her hand in the second episode that pays homage to the beloved American sitcom.
"Well, I can't wiggle my nose, so we had to figure out something else that was period-appropriate," Olsen said in a Zoom press conference. "This was our translation, and we watched our special effects team that usually blows things up, sets things on fire, creates wind and smoke . . . these guys now became puppeteers of things floating in the sky and dealing with magnets, different ways to make things spin and so on."
Olsen and Bettany Had Their First "Quarrel" on WandaVision
Olsen and Bettany have worked with each other for six years now, but it wasn't until WandaVision that they had their first argument. The incident — which they describe as "Snotgate" — happened while filming an emotional kiss and someone's nose started running, and of course, neither can agree whose bodily fluids it was.
"She'll tell you a crock of sh*t about whose snot it was," Bettany told Entertainment Weekly. "I know the truth, and people shouldn't be fooled by her story."
"When he has that makeup on, he can't really feel his leaking fluids anyway, like I can," Olsen retorted. "I was like, 'You can't even tell you're snotting! I can! You can't feel your face 'cause it's covered in paint!'"
The Cast Loved Wearing Their Comic-Accurate Costumes
Both Olsen and Bettany haven't worn anything remotely close to their comic-accurate costumes of Scarlet Witch and Vision, but the trailer revealed that the duo will wear Halloween costumes that resemble the iconic looks. When asked about how they felt about the costumes, Olsen told CinemaBlend that she loved it.
"I just thought it was a joy to put the thing on — to put that huge headband on, and the leotard and the pink tights," she said. "The whole thing was just hilarious." Bettany added, "I laughed at that costume so much because I didn't have to work too hard for laughs."
Bettany Thought He Was Being Fired When Marvel Pitched Him WandaVision
Bettany learned about WandaVision right after Vision famously died (twice) in Avengers: Infinity War. In fact, he thought his time in the MCU was over. In an interview with Men's Health, he said: "I mean, the beginning of this was I got a phone call from Kevin Feige, who said 'Come down to the office. Me and Louis D'Esposito want to talk to you.' And I was like 'OK. They're going to do the decent thing, and let me down gently, but it's done.' I walked in there trying to make it easy on them, and I was like, 'Guys, It's been such a great run, thank you so much for everything.' And they were like 'What are you doing? No — we want to pitch you a TV show.' And I was like What! And, yeah. It was amazing."
Period-Specific Touches Were Done in Each Episode
Olsen told Rotten Tomatoes that while it was certainly one of the most fun projects to work on, it was also simultaneously one of the hardest jobs because of how often everything like camera lenses and lighting had to change to adhere to the decade.
"We really wanted to be authentic," Shakman told The Hollywood Reporter. "We wanted to make sure that it didn't cross over into satire or spoof. This wasn't a parody. So we basically did everything we could. We recreated everything from vintage lenses, production and costume design, to the actors getting together with me and studying what those old shows looked like."
Olsen and Bettany’s Favorite Decade to Film Was . . . the ‘70s!
Olsen and Bettany enjoyed their '70s sitcom the most. "I loved the '70s because of its absurd, false representation of an aspirational family whilst being pregnant, having contractions, and giving birth," Olsen told Rotten Tomatoes TV. "Because it is the most unrealistic version of a birthing experience one can have. So I enjoyed chewing up that scenery for those moments."
In fact, Olsen accidentally threw in some Lucille Ball in the '70s because there is so much physical comedy, which she said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly was the "most Lucy" she went in this series. That said, she explained how that was the only time Shakman told her she was "too much" and had to dial it back.
Bettany agrees with Olsen, telling Rotten Tomatoes that he loved "playing with those tropes, and Vision getting so excited that Wanda needs to get him to breathe even though she's the one having contractions." In addition to the amazing sets, costumes, and wigs, Bettany also really loved doing the '70s-style title sequence montage, which shows the couple cooking, shopping, and biking in Westview. "It really lent itself to what, it turns out, is Elizabeth Olsen's and my strong suit, which is overacting wildly. Your mugging on the tandem [bicycle] will be a lasting memory for me," he said.
Being on the Set Reminded Olsen of Her Sisters' Full House Days
Filming a TV show in front of a live audience reminded Olsen of her connection to sitcoms. "It was insanity," Olsen told Entertainment Weekly. "There was something very meta for my own life because I would visit those tapings as a kid, where my sisters were working [on Full House]." Actually, Olsen's background with her sisters, Mary-Kate and Ashley, didn't hit Feige until he was standing in the writer's room surrounded by photos of Full House.
The Commercials Hold the Key to What's Going On
The Hydra commercials in each episode help tie WandaVision into the MCU. Used to show reality breaking through, they help to highlight "other truths of the show," Feige teased. Longtime Marvel fans will be able to piece together all the easter eggs while news fans can simply enjoy the retro commercials.
"If this is the very first Marvel MCU thing you're watching," Feige said in the WandaVision press conference, "then it's just a strange version of a '50s commercial or a '60s commercial that you'll have to keep watching the series to understand. If you have been watching all the movies, you might be able to start connecting what those things mean to the past."
Bettany and Olsen Both Think Wanda and Vision Are Perfect For Each Other
Olsen told Rotten Tomatoes that "they're literally soulmates," adding that they have "such an innocent expression of love between the two of them" with Wanda being highly empathetic and Vision being a highly rational thinker. She also explained that because they both have a piece of the Mind Stone, they are physically bonded.
Olsen Was Initially Hesitant About WandaVision
Olsen told BuzzFeed that she learned about the show while getting ready to "do pickups for Endgame," and was initially "very thrown by the whole TV part of it all."
"I was a little bit nervous about Marvel doing something on television, because what does that mean and how could it possibly intertwine?" she told Emmy. She also found the idea of morphing these characters to a small TV screen to be intimidating since they're larger than life characters and she was used to them being in huge group experiences. "I'm used to being able to dissolve in an ensemble in these movies and so it was kind of scary to step up in that way," she told Variety.
The Cast Went Through Sitcom Bootcamp
To prepare for the show, the actors attended a two-week sitcom boot camp to "just really understand the tone and the structure for each different decade," Teyonah Parris, who plays Monica Rambeau, told CinemaBlend. During this time, the talent watched a lot of classic comedies in order to replicate their styles. This allowed them to not only chart physical changes like the lingo and language but how comedy has changed over time.
"We tried to put our finger on what comedy was like back in the '50s versus the '60s, because it really does change," Shakman told The Hollywood Reporter. "We worked with a dialect coach [Courtney Young] on how they spoke in different eras, and how they walked, talked and moved. It was really important because ultimately this is the reality of that episode, and we wanted people to fully buy into it."
The First Episode Had a Live Studio Audience Present
To mimic sitcom filming, the first episode of WandaVision filmed in front of a live studio audience over a span of two days. Even other cast members and the crew participated in the experience with Parris being a part of the live audience and the crew dressing in period clothing.
"It was so nerve-wracking, and there was a lot of adrenaline," Olsen said in a press conference. "There were a lot of quick changes, and it totally confused my brain. The idea of not playing for an audience, but feeding off an audience, and having a camera . . . I was really grateful when we added the fourth wall for the second episode." Trusting Shakman and knowing if she was a failure, he would let her reshoot it the next day was what got her through it, she told BuzzFeed. Similarly, Bettany was terrified, having not been on stage in 20 years.
Some of Bettany and Kathryn Hahn’s Favorite Memories Come From the First Episode
"Doing the first one in front of a live studio audience was just crazy, and gave us such a shot in the arm, because it was finished in two days," Bettany told Men's Health. "Because it's like, well, there's one [episode] done. You felt this real energy moving forward."
In an interview with Emmy, he compared the experience of filming the first episode in front of a live studio audience to summer-stock theatre. "Lizzie and Kathryn Hahn and I were running around, bumping into each other, smashing props on each other behind the scenes," he recalled. "It was so exciting, but terrifying because we're all so used to playing for the future audience in the camera."
Hahn, who plays Agnes, said the experience was so surreal. "I'll just hold that day to my heart," she told Rotten Tomatoes. She explained that it felt like they were "jumping off this cliff together" with them having no idea how it was going to play out. For this reason, the '50s was her favorite decade to shoot.