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Scarlet Witch, one of comics’ most powerful and complex characters, is arguably the most underserved Avenger in all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. WandaVision, Marvel Studios’ upcoming streaming series for Disney+, aims to change all that.
The mutant offspring of Magneto in the comics, an “enhanced” member of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in the MCU, Wanda Maximoff is an exceptionally complicated, broken-not-sprained character in any medium. No better was this explored than in one of Marvel’s greatest stories, the game-changing and tragic House of M, a 2005 event comic from writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Olivier Coipel in which Wanda reshaped all of reality after the loss of her children. In her new world, mutants reigned supreme, while normal humans were second-class citizens.
Now that the X-Men are back under Marvel Studios’ roof, Wanda and the MCU seem primed to mine some of the rich drama that the House of M built. In doing so, the Disney+ show — which, when first announced, was met with puzzlement bordering on indifference by fandom — could become as important to Marvel’s live-action future as M was to its comic legacy.
“We’re going to have a lot of fun. We’re gonna get weird, get deep and finally understand Wanda Maximoff as Scarlet Witch.” That was the edict revealed from the stage of Marvel’s Hall H panel when Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige announced the overall narrative strategy behind the upcoming WandaVision series, slated for release Spring 2021 on Disney+ and set to spill into the horror-tinged Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, opening May 7, 2021 and also to feature Olsen’s Wanda.
WandaVision, set after Avengers: Endgame, aims to explore the fallout Vision’s death has on Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen). The best, and most readily available, way to deliver on that is to tell the House of M story through the MCU’s lens.
COLLIDER – On the heels of yesterday’s news that Disney’s upcoming streaming service would be featuring a Winter Soldier/Falcon-focused limited TV series, it looks like the previously announced Scarlet Witch standalone series will be a two-hander. Longtime MCU player Paul Bettany, who has been the voice of JARVIS since 2008’s Iron Man before getting to appear on screen in the artificial flesh as the superheroic android Vision, is now expected to join Elizabeth Olsen in the streaming series.
/Film reports that Bettany will have a significant part to play in the Scarlet Witch limited series in a narrative that will likely focus on the relationship between Vision and Wanda Maximoff before the arrival of Thanos and his dusty fingers. Like the Tom Hiddleston-starring Loki series and the previously mentioned Winter Soldier/Falcon show, Scarlet Witch is expected to be six to eight episodes long and won’t be connected to either the Netflix Marvel TV universe or that of Disney’s broadcast banner, ABC. Production of the streaming series will be handled by Marvel Studios and not Marvel Television, bringing blockbuster-like budgets to each focused, limited season.
Not much more information is available on any of the MCU TV series, except for the fact that Empire writer Malcolm Spellman will write the limited series centering on Falcon and Winter Solidier. We should expect further confirmation from Disney proper once they’ve got their marketing machine all revved up and ready to go with official cast confirmations, title reveals, release dates, and more. Disney’s not alone in trying to get their many-headed streaming service up and available to the masses, but they might just be the furthest along the track in the quest to dethrone Netflix.
Marvel and Disney had no comment.
There’s an important distinction from other Marvel small screen efforts, however. The actors who portrayed these heroes and villains in the Avengers films and their spin-offs, such as Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen, are expected to play them in the streaming shows. Moreover, though sources close to the production are staying mum on the cost of the programming, the budgets are expected to be hefty rivaling those of a major studio productions. Each series is expected to include six to eight episodes. Marvel Studios will produce the shows and Kevin Feige, the guru of all things MCU, is expected to take a hands-on role in their development.
The pricey gamble with one of the crown jewels of the Disney film empire is a sign of how much the company has riding on its direct-to-consumer platform. As companies such as Netflix and Amazon continue to grow their user base, Disney is trying to find a way to establish a toehold in the streaming revolution upending Hollywood. The company has kept the details of the service close to the vest, beyond saying that it will likely cost less than Netflix and will launch at some point in late 2019.
Disney has already started to unwind its licensing deals in order to put as much premium content on the platform as possible. That’s meant that the company is forfeiting billions of dollars in profit, as well as shouldering the cost of developing the technology. The company has announced a number of high-profile projects, including a Star Wars series overseen by “Jungle Book” director Jon Favreau, a show based on “High School Musical,” and a live-action “Lady and the Tramp” film. The company also plans to offer several new releases when it launches, including its live-action “Dumbo” film and “Captain Marvel.”
Many of these projects are expensive bets. The Star Wars series will reportedly cost $100 million and the movies are expected to carry budgets north of $25 million. However, Disney has to spend big to make an impression. Netflix, its main rival, has 125 million subscribers globally and has lured top talent like Ryan Murphy (“American Horror Story”), Kenya Barris (“Black-ish”), and Shonda Rhimes (“Grey’s Anatomy”) to its platform with record-setting deals.