WandaVision Showrunner Discusses Changing Character Origin Stories

Kim Taylor-Foster
TV Marvel
TV Marvel MCU

As WandaVision begins to hit its stride and starts answering questions about its off-the-wall sitcoms premise, more mysteries inevitably arise. The puzzling series, that Vision actor Paul Bettany describes as “Marvel’s biggest swing … absolutely bonkers”, delights in dropping Easter eggs, references, and amping up the weirdness as Wanda’s story unravels. Recently, we saw the MCU’s Darcy Lewis, last seen in Thor: The Dark World, and Jimmy Woo, introduced in Ant-Man and the Wasp and got a chunky insight into the real world outside the constructed reality of Wanda’s world.

While many of us ponder fan theories about Mephisto, exactly how the Sentient Weapon Observation and Response Division (S.W.O.R.D.) fits in and why they adjusted the acronym, and what hexagons and beekeepers have to do with anything, Fandom spoke to WandaVision showrunner and head writer, Jac Schaeffer, to gain an insight into the insane series.

WANDAVISION
Teyonah Parris's Monica Rambeau investigates the energy field surrounding Westview.

“It was never conventional,” says Schaeffer when asked whether she and her team ever explored a more traditional approach. “It was never, ever conventional. If anything, there were moments when it was maybe a little bit weirder and we had to pull back on small things. But no, what you see is a finely tuned version of what I initially pitched.”

Schaeffer says she applauds people doing “bananas things … in any corner of the industry,” citing WandaVision forerunner Legion (set in Fox’s X-Men continuity) as one show having done just that. This is as good a hint as any at more offbeat shenanigans yet to come in this series. “Oh my gosh, I can’t wait for people to see where it goes and what happens,” she says.

From WandaVision Into the Multiverse of Madness

WandaVision Wanda Maximoff Scarlet Witch
Wanda Maximoff aka Scarlet Witch uses her powers.

One place it definitely goes is Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange sequel, which is currently scheduled to arrive in March 2022 and comes complete with the glorious title, Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness. It’s been reported that WandaVision will lead directly into the Phase 4 movie. So how closely has Schaeffer been working with the Strange team to make sure the transition and tie-ins are smooth?

“How the shows and the movies and everything interconnect, it’s a Kevin Feige department thing,” she says. “[But] through my Marvel producer, Mary Livanos, I have been in touch with some of those creatives and been able to see what they’re doing — and they obviously saw WandaVision, so there’s a lot of making sure everybody is on the same page. I’m friendly with that writer [Jade Halley Bartlett and Rick and Morty producer/writer Michael Waldron are the credited writers on Multiverse of Madness], so we speak. I haven’t had the privilege of meeting Mr Raimi but that is just so exciting that he’s on that [movie]. So, I would say that there’s enough communication that needs to happen in order to make sure that all the stories land.”

Doctor Strange
WandaVision showrunner Jac Schaeffer has been making sure the tie-ins to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness work.

Make sure to keep your eyes open for those tie-ins as you watch. Schaeffer didn’t only work closely with Mary Livanos on the Doctor Strange alignment side of things, she also worked in tandem with her to make sure any hangover from the comics where Wanda was portrayed as evil or crazy was addressed. Comic book stories of Wanda shown in this way are something which some fans have taken issue with, leading to trepidation about how she might be portrayed in WandaVision.

“I think that was a great concern for me and my writing staff and for my producer Mary Livanos,” says Schaeffer. “We were not interested in a portrayal [of Wanda] that made her seem like her powers were too much for her, and she was crazy. The sort of crazy lady narrative is tired so I would hope as fans continue to watch the show what they will see is a nuanced portrayal of a very complicated woman.”

Could Wanda’s Origin Story Be Retconned?

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Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis and Randall Park as Jimmy Woo scrutinise the show's Easter eggs for clues.

Complicated indeed — with issues, like any self-respecting powered individual, reaching way back to her origins. Wanda’s backstory in the MCU positions her as a lab experiment. When we first meet Wanda and her WandaVision-namechecked brother Pietro – aka Quicksilver – in Avengers: Age of Ultron (mid-credits Captain America: The Winter Soldier scene aside), we learn that her powers, along with her brother’s, were created by Wolfgang von Strucker’s experiments on them both using Loki’s Scepter, which housed the Mind Stone. We also know that at the age of 10, her parents were killed when a mortar shell hit their Sokovian apartment building.

Wanda and Pietro
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Pietro Maximoff and Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

While comic-book events have been retconned at various points, Wanda and Pietro were for a long time in the comics thought to be the children of Magneto, and many fans are wondering if this is something that could transpire in the MCU now that Disney owns both Marvel Studios and Fox, and consequently the rights to the X-Men. With the Multiverse now opening up and, frankly, with the world of superheroes meaning anything is possible, does this allow Schaeffer the opportunity to play fast and loose with backstories, and anything that may have gone before?

“Well, there’s no playing it fast and loose at Marvel — like, at all, ever,” begins Schaeffer. “Everything is very calculated, and thought out, and crosschecked: ‘Can we do this, does this work?’ But I would say that when there are changes to origin pieces, it just has to be done thoughtfully; it has to make sense, it has to be right for the story, right for the character, and that’s really fun work to do. So yeah.”

Given that Schaeffer says she got everybody she wanted when asked which character she would have loved to bring into the series, and that Scarlet Witch actor Elizabeth Olsen revealed that WandaVision has its own Luke Skywalker moment (Mark Hamill popped up in The Mandalorian’s Season 2 finale), we could yet see Magneto… or someone else equally jaw-dropping.

Kim Taylor-Foster
Kim Taylor-Foster is Entertainment Editor for Fandom in the UK. She was raised on an unsteady diet of video nasties and violent action flicks.