With the premiere of Marvel Studios' WandaVision on Disney+, the series tapped into uncharted territory for the Marvel Cinematic Universe: diving into the sitcom realm. Inspired by classics like Bewitched, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and The Brady Bunch, the first few episodes recreated the feel of the era sitcoms from the sets, humor, and style. Series star Paul Bettany spoke about acclimating himself into those worlds that finds himself alternating between his original android and human forms while also retaining his powers along with his "wife" Wanda "Scarlet Witch" Maximoff played by Elizabeth Olsen.
Bettany recalled an awkward conversation before WandaVision was pitched to him. "My contract was up and I just died twice in Infinity War and I got a call from the boss [Kevin Feige] saying, 'Come see me in the office,'" the actor said. "I looked at my wife and I think I'm getting canned. I went in and Louis D'Esposito and Kevin Feige were there and I didn't want anybody to feel uncomfortable so I lead with, 'Look, I totally get it. It's been great. I've had a great run, guys.' They were like, 'Wait, are you quitting?" And I went, 'No, aren't you firing me?' They said, 'No, we're going to pitch you a TV show.' So I went, 'Okay, I'm in!' Then we talked about two comic book stories that I really love: 'House of M' and 'The Visions,' which is a story about Vision trying to build a family in suburbia and it was sort a mash-up between them, and also with a sort of loving look at American sitcoms throughout the American century. I was like, 'I'm in!'"
Bettany's journey in the MCU originally began in 2008's Iron Man as the voice of Tony Stark's (Robert Downey, Jr.) artificial intelligence interface called JARVIS where he remained in the role until he made his physical debut as Vision seven years later in Avengers: Age of Ultron. JARVIS's conscience was transferred to a body originally meant for the film's antagonist voiced by James Spader. When it came to the series' unique presentation going through decades of sitcom history with each episode, the actor was intrigued. "It's really bold," he said. "I thought we would be out of black and white by the end of the '50s, but Kevin was really insistent that we stay in black and white until the end of the second episode. It is not an arbitrary reason that we are in sitcoms. All will be revealed as Wanda and Vision hurtle through the decades at breakneck speed. By the time we get to the '80s, Vision is really beginning to wonder that there's something wrong in this town, that this can't be right. And he starts to investigate."
To play Vision through another genre was a joy. "I loved every minute of it," Bettany said. "I mean, despite having been raised in London, I grew up on those shows. Saturday mornings and Sunday mornings after church and before sports were The Dick Van Dyke Show and Bewitched and Little House on the Prairie, even, and The Brady Bunch. All of those shows gave us an advertisement on America, which clearly works because I live here now [laughs]. So I was really familiar with those shows. Then I went back and I watched them and Lizzy and I looked at each other and we just went, 'Wow, this is gonna be a lot of work because these are song and dance guys.' I mean, they are consummate performers. It's a different thing, the skills that they had, the physical comedy aspect of it, we're not used that. It was a real challenge. And it was frightening at times, but ultimately incredibly rewarding to do."
To read more on Bettany's breakdown of the series' trip down sitcom memory lane, you can head to Variety. Created by Jac Schaeffer and directed by Matt Shakman, WandaVision also stars Kathryn Hahn, Teyonah Parris, Jolene Purdy, Kat Dennings, and Randall Park, and the series streams Fridays on Disney+.