WandaVision has come to an end, but Marvel Studios Assembled: The Making of WandaVision was a nice little treat for fans who are already missing Wanda and Vision's sitcom-style adventures in the town of Westview, New Jersey. The new Disney+ documentary featured a lot of folks from the cast and crew, including Mary Livanos. In honor of WandaVision ending and the new Making Of, ComicBook.com recently had the chance to chat with Livanos about the show as well as her next MCU project, Captain Marvel 2. Livanos explained how she got involved with WandaVision, how producing works on Marvel projects, and much more. You can check out the full interview below...
ComicBook.com: Previously, you worked on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Captain Marvel. How did WandaVision become your next Marvel project?
Mary Livanos: I was called into Kevin's [Feige] office and we sat down and had a chat and I was very, very lucky to be assigned WandaVision. And he explained the conceit that it was sort of half sitcom, half full-MCU. And I was so thrilled to be assigned it and then went off and just dove into homework. All the comics of Wanda and Vision that I could read, I read. I love reading all the comics that I can. Getting to dive back into older sitcoms.
I had not seen The Dick Van Dyke Show before, I'm ashamed to say, but I was a fan of other sitcoms and it was so lovely and awesome to be able to dive back into that television history and to experience as a first time viewer just how modern and accessible and relatable these sitcoms are and remain. And to start to form an idea of how we could put Wanda and Vision in that setting. And the wonderful thing is that sitcoms are timeless, so slotting in Wanda and Vision felt like a really wonderful opportunity. And as we all started to research together, the ideas started to solidify in a really, really awesome way.
CB: For Captain Marvel, you did a lot of research on the Air Force. Were sitcoms kind of the Air Force equivalent for WandaVision?
ML: I suppose it was. I love the research process. It was really fun. I just sort of went back and we created binders and binders full of these sitcoms, these suburban family sitcoms, that we were honing in on. And looking at the episode descriptions of each episode and the titles and understanding how they're structured was really helpful. And that research process in conjunction with diving back into all the old Wanda and Vision comics, it just allowed for a cool mind-meld and that made it just such a fun process. And the writers also dug in fantastically too, and their work certainly shows.
CB: I think that this show, to its core, it's about grief and trauma. That's something that the MCU has touched on, but never at this level. Was that always the plan when telling Wanda's story?
ML: That was always the plan. The plan was always for the show to be about Wanda and what Wanda and Vision, what Wanda has been going through since losing Vision and losing all the rest of her loved ones in her life. And also evolving and defining her power. So the notion that it's her power that she has to reckon with at the end of the series was always the design.
CB: Is there anything for WandaVision that you got to do that you haven't gotten to talk about much?
ML: Gosh, that's a great question. There was so much. Kind of... Just working with the actors is so fantastic. And Lizzie [Olsen] and Paul [Bettany] and Teyonah [Parris] and Kathryn [Hahn] and Randall [Park[ and Kat [Dennings], everybody, and Evan [Peters], everybody, the alchemy that is creating the characters along with these phenomenal actors who have been portraying them, it's a really special process. And so getting to work with the actors just closely was a real highlight of the show and the process.prevnext
CB: I'm so interested in the producing side of Marvel because I imagine it's a little different from a regular TV show. I feel that most people think of Kevin Feige when they think of producing and Marvel, but it takes a lot more than one person to build something like this.
ML: Yeah. The opportunity that we have as producers at Marvel is very unique and a total cool privilege. Being able to be creatively focused on one, one to two, maybe towards the end of your project, one to two projects at a time is an incredible gift because we are 100% invested in the story that we're trying to tell. And we're able to commit ourselves fully to the storytelling that we're doing at that time and devote ourselves to our characters. Which is fantastic and I think is why Marvel has seen the success that we have. We're able to really commit ourselves fully to the work, which is awesome. And Kevin is the smartest man alive.
CB: The end credit scene for WandaVision sets up Doctor Strange 2. As a Marvel producer, do you get any information on the other projects or do you have to go in blind?
ML: Definitely not blind on the other projects. As producers, we all are sure to communicate a lot and all the time we have constant dialogues and it's actually one of my favorite parts of the job is to be able to call up for say, Richie Palmer, who's the producer on Doctor Strange 2, and just chat and brainstorm and catch up and make sure that everything that we're doing helps them and just to mind-meld, which is fantastic. So there's plentiful communication.
Especially as we expand the Universe. It's crucial.prevnext
CB: I have to bring up Evan Peters and Ralph Bohner. Did you know that was always going to be where this was headed? Was Aaron Taylor-Johnson ever on the table to bring back as Quicksilver or was it always this kind of silly, fun Evan Peters direction?
ML: No. The idea of bringing Evan into the universe as this "Quicksilver" really presented itself when we were figuring out Agatha's plot. Because the villain plot really was to make Wanda feel unsure about her power. At this point in Wanda's sort of grieving process, we wanted her to be unsure about what she was capable of, about what she was doing, was her subconscious acting out again?
We wanted Wanda to believe that her powers could be on the fritz. And actually, in our studies of grief and grieving, a side effect that we found is when you lose someone, the details of memory recall can get fuzzy. So the idea that she kind of forgot exactly what her brother's face looked like, and perhaps her powers have been acting out again, we found really compelling. And we wanted the audience to be as confounded as Wanda and so Evan was the obvious choice for that. Though we knew that we wanted to sort of upend expectations. And so when we brought Evan in and explained exactly what the character was and where he ends up as Ralph, Evan was game. And we're so grateful for that.prevnext
Monica Rambeau & Captain Marvel 2
CB: WandaVision was such a cool way to set up Monica's story. How late in the process did everyone know that she was going to get her powers on WandaVision?
ML: The discovery of integrating Monica was a really lovely, awesome discovery early on in the process of the writer's room. We were trying to find a character who could be an advocate for Wanda, someone who understood what she was going through. And pulling threads from sort of loosely Captain Marvel comic backstory.
The notion that Monica has also lost someone presented a really lovely opportunity to have a character who could advocate for Wanda on her journey. But the notion of her powers and how much we would see them or not see them was an ever-evolving process. We always knew that Monica would level up in this series because of the empathy that she demonstrates. And that's really the core of who she is as a character. So that was always a given, but exactly what she was doing was the fun discovery, I would say.
CB: We're all dying to know what's going on between Monica and Carol. Can we expect some tension there in Captain Marvel 2?
ML: I think as evidenced in the show, there's a history between Monica and Carol that is yet to be fully explored. And as we've announced, Monica will be in Captain Marvel 2, so I think fans can expect to see some pay off there.
CB: Is it hard keeping these secrets? WandaVision was perhaps even more difficult because it was week to week. How has that been for you, kind of finding that balance?
ML: Luckily I've been at Marvel for six years now, not including my long internship. I'm pretty good at keeping secrets at this point. But now that the show is out, it's really awesome and fun to be able to talk to people about what we did and dive in as a fan myself and chat about it. It's great. It's great for the show.prevnext
Marvel and The Future
CB: It always seems that superhero movies or shows that focus on women are scrutinized more. You've done Captain Marvel and WandaVision. Do you think there's more pressure on Marvel projects when it focuses on women?
ML: I suppose, as you mentioned, there seems to be an added pressure, but one of the wonderful things about working at Marvel Studios is that we just get to create. And as women at Marvel, we get to create these stories as fans also. And so if we set out to create an awesome story that we ourselves would want to see, we hope that resonates with the rest of the world.
CB: Are there any Marvel Comics characters that have not made it onto the big screen that you personally would love to see join?
ML: Well, there's a library of about 3000 Marvel or more characters. I would love to see so many characters brought to life and just knowing what's coming up on the slate there's just so much, there's so much. So I think everyone can be excited that there's really something for everybody out there.prev