Even though Marvel Studios has enjoyed success with its various series on Disney+, the plan was still considered somewhat of a gamble back in 2020.
Before this year, MCU films were synonymous solely with box office success, and there were questions about whether fans would invest in its interconnected storytelling on a streaming service as well as in theaters. But the whole conversation changed when WandaVision dropped on Disney+.
If a series format was a gamble for the studio, WandaVision was even more so by featuring two supporting MCU characters, existing in a sitcom format, and tackling issues like grief and loss.
But in the end, fans (and critics) loved it; and apparently, so did Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, who was committed to the series' premise from the beginning despite its "high fail potential."
WANDAVISION WRITERS ORIGINALLY OPPOSED THE SITCOM
In a roundtable chat with the Producers Guild of America, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige expressed that the biggest challenge with WandaVision was "finding collaborators who were excited by the challenge," revealing that some prospective writers wanted to cut the sitcom element out of the series:
"The biggest challenge was finding collaborators who were excited by the challenge. The truth is, Jac [Schaeffer] was working on Black Widow at the time. We were having other meetings, and there came a point, I don't remember exactly how many meetings it was — maybe three or four or five meetings with other writers — and a number of them were saying, 'You know, we really love those two characters. But the sitcom. Do you need the sitcom element? What if you lost the sitcom element? Maybe that might focus it in.'"
Most of WandaVision's episodes saw Wanda and Vision in various sitcom storylines that paid homage to classic American shows from the 1950s to the present day. Basically, it was a television show about television shows starring superheroes who weren't necessarily aware that they were in a television show.
Kevin Feige had confidence in the complicated yet creative premise, and so did Jac Shaeffer who ended up serving as the series' showrunner. But apparently, not everyone in the Marvel writing room felt the same about the series leading Feige to say, "clearly we're not finding the right people...:"
"And I thought, 'That's the whole reason to do - that's the whole show so clearly we're not finding the right people if they're willing to say, 'Hey, we really love this but how about we jettison that.' So the fact that, meanwhile, in another room at Marvel Studios, Jac [Schaeffer] was hearing about it and being excited by the high fail potential of it — which is often how the best ideas come about — was great..."
IT WAS FEIGE ALL ALONG
Even though Marvel Studios is one of the most successful film studios of all time, Kevin Feige refuses to let himself or the studio get comfortable, continuing to explore new genres, styles, and real-life challenges.
For instance, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Marvel's second Disney+ series, didn't rely on a formula or the success of its predecessor in WandaVision. Instead, it presented audiences with a completely different look and tone while tackling actual social and political issues.
Loki, Marvel's current Disney+ series, is doing the same with the aged, bureaucratic design of the TVA and exploring themes of fate versus free will.
Feige seems to appreciate others who enjoy these particular challenges and are willing to take risks like Jac Shaeffer, who, following the success of WandaVision recently signed a three-year contract with Marvel Studios and 20th Television.
A studio president who knows what fans will like and who resists the status quo is rare in the entertainment world; and if Marvel's Disney+ series are any indication of what Feige has in store for Phase 4, fans shouldn't worry about the MCU peaking anytime soon.