Marvel Studios is finally bringing Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the world in a big way with the first season of WandaVision on Disney+. Coming as a direct sequel to the end of the Infinity Saga, this new story is finding a way to bring mind-blowing reveals and connections to the larger MCU with every new episode.
The MCU's first attempt at storytelling on Disney+ is already earning high praise thanks to its production quality, its unique style of storytelling, and its direct connection to the story that's been built from the ground up since 2008. Due to that history tying right into WandaVision, the team behind the show had to make sure that the events of Marvel's first Disney+ outing followed up accurately from the end of the Infinity Saga, both in terms of story and feel.
GIVING WANDAVISION THE FULL MCU TREATMENT
In a recent interview with Variety, WandaVision cinematographer Jess Hall spoke on how much influence he took from the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Infinity Saga.
Hall lauded the fact that he had "this massive legacy of material to draw from" as he tried to capture the perfect details in this follow-up story, while also paying close attention to the visuals used for both Wanda Maximoff and Vision:
"I rewatched what I felt were the key Marvel movies in relation to our show. The studio never said anything about that to me. I think they trusted that I was going to respect the lineage of the work. I was certainly aware that there needed to be continuity within the characters.
For example, Vision had to look like Vision, and Wanda’s magic had to look like a certain color. Having this massive legacy of material to draw from was an asset. You’re building on the dramatic tension that has been involved with these characters, that people have seen in the movies."
When talking about specific influences from the MCU's past, Hall noted 2019's Avengers: Endgame and 2015's Avengers; Age of Ultron as his biggest inspirations. Noting some of Olsen and Bettany's prior scenes together as "the most emotional that (he) had seen in the MCU," he wanted to include "elements of continuity" in a show as complicated as WandaVision.
"I was moved by the scenes between Paul [Bettany] and Elizabeth [Olsen] in 'End Game' and 'Age of Ultron.' That’s what partly made me want to do this project because some of their scenes were the most emotional that I had seen in the MCU. But, I also knew that it was going to be important for the audience to know where they were when they landed in the MCU and that it wasn’t just another confusing stylistic element.
One of the things that I did was that I used the same lens as the Ultra Panavision lenses that were built for 'Infinity War' and 'End Game,' as well as 1.3x Anamorphic lenses. I was sort of encoding that kind of Marvel work with a look that fans would be slightly familiar with, probably not consciously, but somewhere in the subconscious. It was important to me with such a complicated show that there were elements of continuity."
TAKING A CLOSER LOOK AT MCU HISTORY
WandaVision is Marvel Studios' first true effort into making long-form TV shows that fit right into the overarching narrative of the MCU movies. With that in mind, it makes plenty of sense that the series' cinematographer would look back at two movies that most heavily featured the Disney+ show's leading actors.
Particularly with the visual effects used for Scarlet Witch and Vision, Age of Ultron and Endgame utilized some of the most impressive visuals for WandaVision's two lead roles. The pair of starring characters in the Disney+ series have some of the most unique powers in the entire MCU franchise, which have been shown off to great extent in their previous big-screen appearances.
From the technical side of this endeavor, using the same lens equipment from Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame aided to capture the same look in WandaVision that was achieved in the two blockbusters. It may not have been anything blatantly noticeable, but it was certainly a conscious decision in order to make MCU fans subconsciously grasp the visual continuity as Phase 3 moved into Phase 4.
In terms of the emotional side, Wanda and Vision have surely gone through their ups and downs as a couple, especially through the last couple of years in Phase 3. Wanda having to kill Vision to save the world in Avengers: Infinity War still ranks as one of the most emotional moments in MCU history, especially since the Avengers still failed. This moment for the odd couple obvioisly set things up for the absolute insanity that WandaVision is giving right now, so it makes sense that the cinematography would be reminiscent of that as well.
Now that WandaVision is going into its last two episodes, fans should expect to see plenty amazing visuals as the leading heroes experience more of the classic MCU adventures after six episodes in sitcom-world. This will continue when "Episode 8" premieres on Friday, February 26.