WandaVision: How Comics Influence Marvel's First TV Show And MCU

Marvel Studios seems to be picking and choosing any and all comics it wants to adapt to live-action stories, any ability it has earned through years of earning the trust of its audience. What started as a grounded story of a billionaire who built his own armored suit evolved over the course of ten years into a franchise where talking trees take part in time travel stories to defeat a massive purple alien -- and the whole world bought in. Now, the creatives behind-the-scenes at Marvel Studios have plenty of intel on what works best and what doesn't but instead of using a clear cut formula, they continue to dig deeper and take big swings -- as is fully evidenced by WandaVision and its comic book influences.

WandaVision started as "a sitcom starring two Avengers," as Randall Park's Jimmy Woo put it in Episode 4. This is a bold and original move by Marvel Studios, structuring a bizarre and mysterious story to wholly fit the mold of different eras of sitcoms in its first three episodes (though, it seems they were aware that reactions to such a move could be mixed, which might have prompted the double episode premiere). As it built, the comic influences became more and more apparent. Tom King's The Vision comic has details shining through, the 1985 run of The Vision and Scarlet Witch by Steve Englehart has clear influences, and it all seems to be building up a live-action take on the popular House of M story in one way or another.

"All of [those comics] and ones you didn't mention," influenced WandaVision, according to its director Matt Shakman. "You know, I mean, I think the thing that's so great about the MCU is they are building on everything that's come before and making something wholly new and original. And much like each one of those comics that you held up there. Those artists and writers took what had come before and fashioned something new, you know. And that's what we're trying to do."

WandaVision_Comics

Shakman and his head writer Jac Schaeffer don't seem to be comic book aficionados by any stretch. Schaeffer is quick to admit she read some books to prep for writing WandaVision, her second Marvel Studios endeavor after penning Black Widow, but certainly did not grow up in the Marvel world. "My relationship with the comics, I hope this doesn't make you wanna turn off this interview immediately but I was not an early comic book reader and I didn't actually know much about the comics before I started my work at Marvel," Schaeffer admits. "The comics are an incredibly rich, beautiful, nuanced jumping off point for the stories of the MCU. So, of course, we had every comic that Wanda and Vision appeared in."

The ideas for the comic influences, possibly the building blocks for the stories as a whole, come from the creatives furter behind-the-scenes. "We had discussions, but really that was like my relationship with my producer, Mary Livanos, she's the keeper of all of that information," Schaeffer explains. "We would have our conversations about the show, about what we wanted to do about sitcoms, and then she would flag things that dovetailed, or she would bring up interesting, comic storylines that maybe we in the room didn't know about and it was very fluid in that way."

This seems to be a running theme at Marvel Studios. Producers, especially the now well well known man-behind-the-curtain of it all Kevin Feige, have a deep knowledge of the comic stories. Furthermore, Marvel Studios operates as a cohesive unit. Shakman worked closely with Jon Watts and and Sam Raimi, the directors of the upcoming Spider-Man 3 and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness films which have stories tied directly to that of WandaVision. All of this moves cohesively due to Feige and his team of producers overseeing the constantly connected threads through dozens of upcoming titles, all of which have stories rooted in the comics.

Marvel WandaVision Live Studio Audience
(Photo: Disney / Marvel, Entertainment Weekly)

"You've answered the question, why WandaVision? Why Wanda and Vision? And it's a two part answer," Feige tells ComicBook.com. "One is, because the characters in the comics and the story potential there is vast and it's amazing. We just scratched the surface of it. And the other answer is, because Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany play those two characters and they're spectacular performers and spectacular actors that, again, I believed you'd only scratched the surface of seeing what they can do with those characters in the movies up to this point."

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As the story in the Marvel Cinematic Universe moves forward, it seems creative powers are simply taking their pick at whichever comics they deem worthy of an adaptation or remix in live-action. Could that have happened years ago before the box office provided such confidence to Marvel Studios? No way. Now, though, Marvel can be as ambitious as House of M or Secret Wars and everything in between with a constant line of communication and planning between the sprawling, talented parties bringing them to life.