Back in 2008, after the credits rolled for Iron Man, and Nick Fury stepped out of the shadows, telling Tony Stark he wasn't the only one who could save the world, the precedent of superhero films changed forever.
Since then, Marvel Studios has cranked out twenty-three blockbuster films exploring the adventures of Marvel heroes from Captain America to the Guardians of the Galaxy, introducing an ever-expanding universe that connects its past installments to each of its new ones.
Now twelve years into the game, Kevin Feige is stretching the MCU even further, more than doubling Marvel Studios' yearly output by introducing Disney+ series like WandaVision that will also connect to the cinematic universe he's created.
For a writer, that can be both exciting and intimidating. WandaVision's head writer and showrunner Jac Schaeffer, has opened up about that aspect of the job, calling it both freeing and restricting all at once.
On the TV's Top 5 podcast, Schaeffer was asked about how WandaVision fits into the MCU and how much was shared with her about the universe's overall direction as a franchise. In her answer, Schaeffer claimed that despite the "enormous amount of freedom" that Marvel gave her while working on the show, she felt the work was somewhat "restrictive," specifically from using certain "characters from the MCU" that she wanted to include.
"Yeah. I mean, all the work that I've done at Marvel exists in a space that's interconnected with other stories. And I have found that, first of all, the access to the other writers and directors and storytellers, and executives especially, the producers at Marvel who are also extraordinary. To feel like you're an important piece in a larger puzzle is really exciting.
I mean, there are occasionally times when it's kind of restrictive, and you hatch a really exciting idea that involves a character from the comics or a character from the MCU, and you pitch it, and then you're met with 'Oh, no, we're using that in this.' There's occasionally that kind of thing, which is frustrating, but there's so much to go around that there's always another character, another storyline or something that you can kind of like shunt in and get the same kind of juice out of.
But you know, I was really surprised because I've done a lot of original material before this, and my personal way of working, it's like I was given an enormous amount of freedom inside of my own prescribed sandbox, and that is a way that I like to work, it turns out. And also, I do think that while Kevin and the executives at Marvel, obviously there's a vision for all of these things. They always want each property to stand on its own two feet, and that's always the priority. So that was always what I was striving for and what my team was striving for, to make sure that this exists on its own, and also has the pieces that need to interconnect."
Schaeffer was then asked how exactly she knew which characters she was allowed to pull from the MCU playhouse. Speaking specifically to Randall Park's Jimmy Woo and Kat Dennings' Darcy Lewis, Schaeffer admitted that both characters were suggestions from Marvel that she was "100%" on board with adding into the show.
Schaeffer went on to suggest that the two oddball supporting roles from other MCU franchises wasn't all that uncommon in this line of work, claiming that "Marvel has ideas of where they can put different characters in different storylines," hinting that Jimmy and Darcy both have more in store for them in the MCU lore.
"Randall and Kat were suggestions that I was like '100% yes' was my answer to that suggestion. And that's sort of what I've seen on the other properties, it's like they at Marvel have ideas of where they can put different characters in different storylines. And that doesn't always work out, that's not always how it is. I would say that most of the wonderful players in the MCU stable, if they get the call, they're gonna show up because they're excited to. But yeah, it starts as a general idea, and then we see if we can make it work."
WHAT THIS MEANS
Wouldn't it be nice if Schaeffer would just tell us who else she wanted to include in the MCU's first Disney+ series?
WandaVision as a show is highly ambitious in nature, giving fans a very different MCU experience than what the past eleven years has brought to the table. With only three episodes down and six more to go, there's still a lot of storytelling to do to help fans understand what exactly it is that they're watching.
What's exciting about Jac Schaeffer's experience is that she also wrote early script drafts for both Captain Marvel and Black Widow for Marvel Studios, showing that she has a good idea of the MCU's direction and the characters within it.
Despite this though, Wanda and Vision are the only two characters in her new show that fans are familiar with, leaving plenty of puzzle pieces for viewers to sort through, trying to put everything together as each new episode is released.
Given the notion that Schaeffer was limited in who she was able to use from the greater MCU in WandaVision, the looming mystery in the series is very clearly done intentionally. Marvel Studios seems to prefer that fans feel out of place while watching this new show, which could be a leading cause as to why fans don't see any other familiar MCU faces in WandaVision (yet).