While the MCU looked to make its grand return with WandaVision in 2021, its star, Elizabeth Olsen, worried that the project was going to flop.
Looking back to the start of the MCU's Phase 4, WandaVision was far from a guaranteed hit for Marvel Studios, especially considering it marked the franchise's return to the public after an 18-month pandemic-induced delay.
When the show hit Disney+, the MCU saw incredible success behind Olsen and Paul Bettany - it even led to Marvel Studios' biggest critical wins to date as WandaVision was rewarded with the MCU's first Emmy awards.
But even considering how momentous it was when WandaVision brought the MCU back, there were no guarantees that it would reach that pinnacle.
Elizabeth Olsen's Fears for WandaVision
WandaVision star Elizabeth Olsen appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, addressing her concerns regarding WandaVision ahead of its release.
Colbert looked back to their last chat prior to WandaVision's Disney+ debut, highlighting how great the show was by "[breaking] form in an interesting way" and tackling such heavy and emotional subject matter for Wanda Maximoff and Vision:
"Last time you were here, we hadn’t seen 'WandaVision' yet. What an extraordinary show that was. You’ve done a lot of Marvel stuff, and there’s been a lot of these Marvel shows, but that really broke form in an interesting way, and it has such a beautiful, and satisfying, and heartbroken emotional journey for your character, and, of course, for Vision as well."
When asked if she knew how big the show would be, Olsen reflected on co-star Paul Bettany describing the show as "the forgotten cousin to the Marvel universe," comparing it to globe-trotting and action-filled efforts in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier:
"We just felt like… Paul kept calling us the forgotten cousin to the Marvel universe. He just felt like we were some annoying cousin that people through in the corner… and I think Anthony Mackie and Sebastian (Stan) were traveling all over the world and blowing things up. And Paul and I were just like, doing sitcom acting in a corner. And, obviously, our amazing cast and crew."
Olsen also admitted that while everybody truly enjoyed their work on the series, they were worried that "it might potentially ruin [them] all" when it debuted:
"But, we loved what we were doing. We had so much fun doing it. But we really felt like it was either going to– it might potentially ruin us all. (laughs) I think that’s the stuff that feels the most fun to make, is when you feel like you could fail at any second."
Shortly after WandaVision arrived on Disney+, head writer Jac Schaeffer dove into her biggest fears in making the show during an interview with Deseret News.
More than anything, she hoped that Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige would like the final product and wanted to make something that she and her team would be proud of:
"In the actual doing the show. I felt through most of the process very insulated from those kinds of pressures. The pressure was really mostly like — will Kevin like it? That was my day to day — will Kevin like it? And then, will I like it? Will I be proud of it? Will my team be proud of it? Are we putting something into the world that makes the world a better place, right? Those are the larger questions that I am asking myself day to day. But yeah, as it got close to actually premiering, I started to panic sure, but so far it seems like it’s going OK."
This isn't the first time that Olsen has expressed doubt ahead of an MCU release, as she spoke with Jimmy Fallon in May 2022 about Avengers: Endgame possibly becoming a flop during the promo tour for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness:
Fallon: "'Avengers: Endgame' is one of the biggest movies in the history of the world. And you were like, 'Here we go. We got our first flop.'"
Olsen: "I was like, 'I don’t know. I don’t know about this one.' Yeah. And so, I just decided I don’t want to put myself through that experience again. So I’ll see ['Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness'] at some point."
WandaVision Star Moved Past Fears of Flopping
Even taking into account the negative critical reactions that many of the MCU's Multiverse Saga projects received, WandaVision became more of a surprise hit than most people expected, including Elizabeth Olsen herself.
With the series following such a different format than anything that came before or after it, particularly with its sitcom-style storytelling method, this series gave the MCU something that was fresh and exciting while providing a story that resonated with viewers.
While Olsen's efforts alongside Paul Bettany will only be limited to one season, the show has cemented its place in MCU history as one of Marvel Studios' biggest wins to date.
That success has already led to a spin-off being greenlit with Kathryn Hahn's Agatha: Coven of Chaos while fans wait to see when Olsen herself will return in that series or elsewhere.
WandaVision is now streaming on Disney+.