Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany chat with USA TODAY’s Brian Truitt about the new Marvel superhero sitcom, “WandaVision,” coming to Disney+.
If a Marvel superhero project is going to tackle the retro vibe of “Bewitched,” it’s best to use the studio’s resident Scarlet Witch.
Played by Elizabeth Olsen, the magically gifted Wanda Maximoff has dealt with all sorts of obstacles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – from government regulation to being snapped out of existence – with her beloved fellow Avenger, the android Vision (Paul Bettany). The couple, who’ve been supporting characters in the “Avengers” films, gets the spotlight in “WandaVision” (now streaming), the first Marvel series to hit Disney+.
Each episode features Wanda and Vision having to weather a classic sitcom story line (Wanda needs her conjuring skills to craft a dinner for Vision’s boss on the fly) even as something strange is going on that points to this TV land being otherworldly.
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Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) conjures up a dinner on the fly in the 1950s-set first episode of Disney+’s “WandaVision.” (Photo: MARVEL STUDIOS)
“The mystery is completely built into the fabric of who they are,” Olsen says. “Fans who know the MCU and know these characters will have a lot of fun every episode picking out what we’re hinting at.”
Whatever happens, it all leads to the upcoming movie sequel “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” (due in theaters March 25, 2022), a Marvel horror project directed by Sam Raimi (“The Evil Dead”) that reunites Wanda with fellow superhero and Sorcerer Supreme Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). “I don’t think ‘Doctor Strange’ would make sense at all if we didn’t have ‘WandaVision,’ ” Olsen says.
Currently in London, where she filmed “Strange” for three weeks before another COVID lockdown hit at Christmas, Olsen tells USA TODAY via Zoom about the “WandaVision”spotlight on her Marvel character and what she’s enjoyed so far about the “Multiverse of Madness.”CLOSE
Avengers couple Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) navigate eras in sitcom history in the Disney+ Marvel series ‘WandaVision.’
You’ve been doing Marvel movies since 2015’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” usually as part of a very large ensemble. How enjoyable is it finally having a lead role?
Elizabeth Olsen: It was not something that I was expecting, and it was very intimidating to wrap my head around originally when I found out. I got very comfortable being in these ensemble films. But I really have felt it’s one of the greatest gifts that a job has given me in a long time, and it was incredibly fulfilling and fun and hard, and has now made me fall in love with this part that I’ve been playing for six years.
As Scarlet Witch, Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) showed off her powers in “Captain America: Civil War.” (Photo: Zade Rosenthal)
Wanda faced off with Thanos in “Avengers: Endgame” and showed she’s definitely one of the most powerful Marvel heroes. Do you see that side in “WandaVision”?
Olsen: She is full Marvel in this show. (Laughs) We do understand her limitless abilities through the show, as we have with Thanos.
Is doing the physical aspects of the superhero hexing still a joy?
Olsen: It is fun. I take it always far more specifically and personally than anyone else does. I’ll start doing something with my hand while delivering dialogue and my hand’s not even in the shot, but in my brain, I’m like, “I’m doing something!”
How has it been working on a Sam Raimi superhero horror film?
Olsen: Loving it. There have been ways of using the camera that I’m not used to, and I’m really enjoying this flexibility of how he works and his perfectionism. He’s a very sweet, lovely person with obviously a very dark side to him somewhere in there.
Elizabeth Olsen is Wanda Maximoff and Paul Bettany is Vision (appropriately) in Disney+ Marvel series “WandaVision,” due Jan. 15. (Photo: Marvel Studios)
How do you feel Wanda’s changed the most over the years?
Olsen: She’s really resisted the role that has been given to her, being this person with abilities and powers. (“WandaVision”) is like a full accountability and realization of ownership of what makes her unique and the accountability of her life experience. It feels like a coming-of-age story in an adult, womanly way for her with this show.
I’m so inspired by how we’re able to create that shift in her as a character. I’m really having fun going directly into “Doctor Strange 2” and continuing that evolution instead of trying to replay any parts of her. It’s more fun for me if I do that, and I think it’s more fun for the viewers.