Viewers of Avengers: Infinity War (2018) will recall that Vision (Paul Bettany) dies, not once, but twice. However, he, and his lover, the superpowerful Wanda Maximoff aka Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), are back in WandaVision. The nine-episode series will be streamed in India on Disney+ Hotstar Premium from January 15.
How is Vision’s return possible? Among other powers, Scarlet Witch can warp reality and create new worlds. Set after the events of Infinity War, WandaVision follows Vision and Scarlet Witch hopping through decades of American sitcom-style universes, trying to pursue a normal life that is uninterrupted by the inter-dimensional catastrophes that the Avengers frequently tackle.
The comedic tone of WandaVision continues “only till a point, and then it has more effects shots than Avengers: Endgame”, Bettany promised in an interview with Scroll.in.
WandaVision has been written by Jac Schaeffer (Captain Marvel, Black Widow) and directed by Matt Shakman, whose credits include the irreverent comedy series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia as well as Game of Thrones. Edited excerpts from an interview.
You are a British man paying tribute to American sitcoms from different decades.
When I grew up in Great Britain in the 1970s, we were inundated with American television in the weekends until football came in. We saw The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Brady Bunch. I was familiar with that, but not the ones that came after, like Malcolm in the Middle and Modern Family.
For the ’50s sitcom episode, to act in front of a live audience was very frightening because it had been so long since I did theatre. I didn’t want to do it but I loved it. It was something new.
Back when Vision was J.A.R.V.I.S. in the MCU, your disembodied voice brought a wry and British personality to the character.
I was trying to bring a Jeeves-Wooster relationship to our equation. I became very good friends with Robert Downey Jr only after I began playing Vision, because during Iron Man and those early movies, he would record his bits first, and then I would join.
Robert would give me a lot of options to play with, and I would give a lot of options myself. I would goof in front of the mic, with [Iron Man director] Jon Favreau, who is so good with improvisation, quickly throwing lines to my ear.
You are doing comedy after ages.
Real relief. I had not done comedy since A Knight’s Tale and Wimbledon. It was particularly fun to do physical comedy.
You have been working with Elizabeth Olsen for quite a while.
Lizzy is never late on set, and I am very particular about time myself. Her punctuality is rarer than you would think. There are so many actors still learning their lines on set while the lights keep burning. I hate that. That holds one back from investigating their character.
Lizzy comes so well-prepped and with ideas, with the thought that it’s about WandaVision for this amount of time for these many months.
You have come a long way since ‘Iron Man’ in the MCU.
It’s hard to overstate what a risk Iron Man was. I know it all seems obvious now, but back then, Jon and Robert making it was a mad idea. I am so proud of Marvel. It was an experiment, just as WandaVision is.
It’s incredible how you bring real emotions to a long-running saga where the story involves unreality, such as ‘WandaVision’.
Shooting my death scene in Infinity War, for example. I was dressed as a robot. Lizzy is pretending to destroy a stone in my head. It’s tricky to make that look real.
The decision to bring this story to sitcoms was not arbitrary. There was real purpose and meaning because the way sitcoms work is that they have seemingly insolvable problems that could be really embarrassing and catastrophic, but are actually quite real-life and solvable. But how do you solve someone dying?