WandaVision was the first of Marvel's many slated Disney+ projects to be released, and it was a phenomenal success. The show gave fans a look at Elizabeth Olsen's Wanda Maximoff living an idyllic life with her deceased husband, Paul Bettany's Vision.
While both actors delivered incredible performances, Bettany stirred up a fair bit of drama among speculative fans when he teased a cameo from "an actor I've longed to work with all of my life" and claimed fans would be "massively surprised" by the show's ending.
For those not in the know, WandaVision was an insane hotbed for online speculation, and Bettany's comment had theory-crafters guessing nearly anyone they could think of including legendary actors and former X-Men leads Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan.
In the final episode of the series, the cameo was revealed to be none other than Paul Bettany himself playing a version of Vision resurrected by SWORD Director Tyler Hayward as a weapon to be used against Wanda and the version of Vision that lived in Westview.
The pair of Visions duked it out in full Marvel superhero-beat-down fashion before having a discussion about the Ship of Theseus paradox, which caused the "White Vision" to realize he was, in fact, Vision. It's 2021, and Marvel is getting existential, folks.
While fan reactions to Bettany's tease were certainly varied, the actor recently revealed his own anxieties about his overzealous promise and how Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige reacted.
PAUL BETTANY DISCUSSES HIS WANDAVISION CAMEO TEASE
Speaking recently to The Playlist, Bettany shared his thoughts on the cameo, saying he'd, "had all sorts of feelings about it:"
"I’ve had all sorts of feelings about it. Initially, it was massive regret, which was people started going because I thought it was a really funny joke and was pleased with myself. And then people were like, “Is it going to be Patrick Stewart?” And then I went, “Oh, my God, that’s a good idea. Oh, my God, people are going to be so disappointed when they realize it’s f**king me again.”
Bettany then mentioned he talked to Feige about the ordeal and how he thought it "was a really good joke:"
"But in the end, I spoke to Kevin Feige about it. And he thought it was a really good joke, a really funny joke. And it didn’t backfire too much. For a second there, I was like, “Oh, no. What am have I done?” But yeah. So I had all sorts of feelings regarding that."
PAUL BETTANY IN THE CLEAR, BUT A LESSON LEARNED
WandaVision was an extremely impressive first display for Marvel on Disney+, but if there's one thing that comes up often in discussion about it, it's that it occasionally overpromised. Bettany's joke, as funny as it turned out to be, was only one piece of kindling in a wider pile of references and Easter eggs that ignited a firestorm of speculation among fans.
It wasn't necessarily the show's fault, either. The many references that had fans looking everywhere for Mephisto were references to the comic origins of Wanda's twins, for example. A fun callback with no harm done.
If anything, the hype storm was in many ways a byproduct of both the show's storytelling style—which began as a saccharine sitcom and slowly revealed a darker turn—and the weekly episodes, which gave fans plenty of time to cook up wild theories while they were waiting for the next drop.
While Marvel and Disney won't be dropping the weekly episode format anytime soon, it's likely that actors will look to Bettany's example and be more cautious about what exactly they tease going forward. Marvel fans have proven themselves to be positively rabid speculators, and that isn't going to change.
With the next Disney+ series, Loki, launching June 9 and a nearly ceaseless slate of Marvel content following close behind, there will be plenty of speculation to come.