'WandaVision' Creator Weighs in on Bringing Characters Back and Killing Them Off (Exclusive)
By John Boone
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And here you thought the craziest part of WandaVision was happening within the sitcom world. After three episodes of reality-warping shenanigans in the '50s, '60s and '70s, episode 4 disrupted our regularly scheduled programming to reveal what's happening in the real world.
Major spoilers ahead for episode four of WandaVision.
Turns out, what's happening is Monica Rambeau being blipping back into existence. The fourth episode ("We Interrupt This Program") opens with modern-day Monica (Teyonah Parris) materializing in a hospital amid the chaos following the Hulk's snap. In the confusion, we also find out that her mother, Maria (Captain Marvel's Lashana Lynch), died offscreen in the intervening five years.
If that weren't enough Marvel canon for you, Randall Park's Jimmy Woo and Kat Denning's Darcy Lewis are brought back into the MCU fold post-Ant-Man and the Wasp and Thor: The Dark World, respectively, revealing what they've each been up to in the interim. (He learned a card trick; she got her PhD.) By the episode's end, Monica, Jimmy and Darcy's attempts to find out what exactly is going on in Westview lands them in the crosshairs of Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen).
Speaking with ET's Ash Crossan, WandaVision creator and head writer Jac Schaeffer broke down the latest installment, discussing the decision to kill off a major character, Jimmy Woo's magical follow through and that jump scare of all jump scares.
ET: First of all, we see the unblippening. In Far From Home, it was used for comedic effect. But here, we feel this seriousness and gravitas of it. What was the conversation around using this as Monica's intro?
Jac Schaeffer: The unblippening! That's pretty good. I have not heard that at all, and I will be taking that with me. So, our priority was introducing Monica -- that was always what we wanted to do well at the top of the show -- and second to that, our priority was the 180 of this episode being entirely separate from what we've seen. But we also wanted to answer the question of, where are we in the MCU timeline? And this idea seemed to satisfy all of those things all at once. It set up tonally that we're in a dramatic scenario, a more grounded scenario. We learned so much about Monica and what she's dealing with in that cold open, and then of course, it's always exciting to be able to approach MCU canon and shed new light on it.
We also find out in this moment that Maria died during [The Blip], which couldn't have been an easy choice to make in terms of how you deliver that. What was the conversations surrounding her death and how that news should be addressed?
Yeah, it was a big decision. We had a lot of conversations, and Maria and Lashana, the actor, were so important in Captain Marvel and such a tremendous character. We did not make that decision lightly. But we felt that it really worked for Monica's character and what it meant for her. And we also really loved the idea that Maria had built S.W.O.R.D. from the ground up
There are so many theories [about what's going on in the show]. Have you seen one that's getting close or scarily accurate yet?
I've seen a lot that analyze the work in a way that is gratifying to us as the creatives. People who are taking note of our priorities. Like with Darcy Lewis, it was really important to us that we show that eight years is a long time and she has accomplished a lo and is a different person, and so the fans enjoying her moment where she asserted herself as a doctor, yeah, it's a teeny tiny moment, but it was important to me and to my partners on this.
Seeing Darcy's journey since The Dark World and knowing that she was a poli-sci major and now she's an astrophysicist, how did you wrap your head around where she's been?
We actually did a lot of brainstorming about where the heck Darcy's been and what she's been up to. There were a lot of ideas that didn't make it into the show, but I feel it helped us in creating this newer version of her. But because it had been eight years, we were like, that's time enough for a PhD, and she was integral to everything that Dr. Jane Foster had done. So, we liked the idea that she could still have that same sardonic, hilarious voice, but really have become more serious and have a reputation inside of the world of the MCU as being an expert. It just sounded so great to us.
Were there any ideas that didn't make it that you can reveal?
I don't think I can. Maybe on the other side! I wish I could. I wish I could spend a whole day just talking about our Darcy Lewis ideas and our Jimmy Woo ideas. They were just really, really great sources of joy for us when we were developing the series.
Fans are loving that Jimmy Woo learned the close-up magic trick -- the one he wanted to learn in Ant-Man and the Wasp -- how fun was that to add in? And how did Randall react to that little bit of character development?
Oh, he loved it! He thought it was great. He was practicing it. So many of these characters, they appear fleetingly and there are little details about them, so trying to carry a character forward, you want to be faithful so you analyze all the little details. It felt so special to have the fact that like he loved magic and then [there was] the magic show in episode two, it all sort of came together in this really beautiful way. It was a very early idea. I think it was one of my writers, Peter Cameron, who came up with the idea. I hope I'm not misquoting -- he's wonderful, regardless -- but the idea that he had finally gotten really good at it was so great.
It's my favorite type of Easter egg, too, because fans are so ready for certain things to happen, and when something subtle like that happens, we're like, "Oh my God, that's right! He wanted to learn that trick." It's so satisfying.
I think a lot of us in the room -- and just humans in genera -- we all know what it's like to feel like a supporting player, to feel like a background character and so the idea that someone is really watching you and is paying attention to you and that sees you as like a full human being, I think it's born of that impulse that we wanted to give him the good stuff.
Randall's character kind of acts as the audience. His white board is all of the same questions we're asking. So, I have to know, are we going to get all of these answers by the end of the season?
We will answer all the things that need to be answered. Truthfully, Randall is the writers. That was, like, us writing on the whiteboard in the writer's room being like, How do we make sure that this mystery checks out, that the logic checks out, that all of this is working? So, I'm so pleased that whiteboard is getting the shine that it's getting, because there are so many details that didn't make it into the show that were the various pieces of our larger world building. But there'll be answers. Don't you worry.
This end of this episode was giving me some uneasy feelings about Wanda. What can you tease about her arc the rest of the season and how it's going to tie into the greater MCU?
Next to nothing, but I can tell you that both Wanda and Vision's journey and the other characters get more complex as we move forward. There are more surprises and more conflict to see.
I love that WandaVision has been so lighthearted and then it's like, boom, dead Vision. That was so scary. Well done.
Thank you. That kind of thing -- a visceral jump scare like that -- that's not entirely me. That was on the page, that was always the plan, but that's Matt Shakman directing, that's of course editing. It's 1000 percent visual effects and [visual effects supervisor] Tara DeMarco and her brilliance. That is an enormous team effort making that one small moment haunt everyone on the interwebs.
New episodes of WandaVision stream Fridays on Disney+.