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Sitcoms have been stable in television since 1950. They were one of the great inventions of the small screen, made with fewer resources than most shows, only needing a couple of locations and famous actors. They are not necessarily cheaper, but they are a reliable way of entertainment. With the passing of years, Sitcoms have made a place in everybody’s minds and carry a sense of nostalgia to them. Here is where WandaVision comes in.
The first Disney+ Marvel TV show nurtured itself with all the teachings that Sitcoms made over the years and paid homage to many of them. This show goes through more than 70 years of Sitcom history with only eight episodes. However, you don’t need to be a Sitcom fan to enjoy this series. The show has something for everyone.
The history of the series making is as fascinating as the show itself, so please stand by and follow me into the strange events that give rise to this show, from Atlanta to LA.
WandaVision is a Marvel show set in the little fictional town of Westview, three weeks after the events in Avengers: Endgame. The two protagonists of the series had been gone for many years. Wanda was blipped out of existence after losing the love of her life, Vision, at the hands of Thanos. Once brought back to life, she tried to find Vision, but he was still dead and in the hands of the government.
Before we know all this, the show throws us into an unfamiliar setting, filmed in Trilith Studios, with these two characters alive and well. They live in a 50s black and white sitcom. As spectators, we know they are “Earth’s mightiest heroes,” but they are just living a family comedy. Something feels off from the beginning and is that mystery that keeps us wanting more.
The two characters keep acting like an old sitcom, but something is off. First, people act like Wanda and Vision don’t have powers, even after seeing them using some. Then, a peculiar figure comes out of a sewer, a colored helicopter is found in some bushes, and a woman mentions her brother to Wanda. Every time something strange happens, we jump to the next decade at the episode’s end, from 1950 to actuality.
With time, we end up knowing the truth. Wanda unwillingly created this strange sitcom-based reality in which she trapped an entire town. Wanda’s trauma generated this reality, and it changes whenever she has to deal with her grief. From the outside, a group of military people tries to capture or kill Wanda because of how dangerous she is and because she can create Vision out of nothing. All these events take us on a trip to different locations in California and Georgia.
During the series’ events, we discover many things that will be important for the MCU. Some characters got introduced to the world, such as Monica Rambeau, Wanda’s sons, and Agatha Harkness. Vision got changed for White Vision, and there’s also the short reappearance of Jimmy Woo and Darcy Lewis. All is set to continue in Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness.
Filming, the magic in Wandavision
Each Wandavision episode has its particularities, and because of that, the central location and, most notably, the decoration changed from decade to decade. So let’s break it all down from episode to episode and see where was Wandavision filmed. Each episode’s title hints at an important event of the episode or gives a general idea of the episode’s main plot. However, the fun part is that every title references a common TV phrase.
Episode 1: “Filmed before a lived studio audience”
As the title suggests, the episode was ACTUALLY FILMED BEFORE A LIVE AUDIENCE. This is probably the most interesting of all the episodes details. As seen in the docu-series showing the backstage, “Marvel Studio: Assemble,” the studio invited a bunch of people to the location where the scenes were being filmed. The actors prepared the scene like a theatrical performance and added the effects like an authentic 1950s comedy.
The laughter used in the episode is taken from the audience that visited the studio that day, giving the experience a much more genuine sensation. It was filmed in Trilith Studios (Atlanta, Georgia), formerly known as Pinewood Atlanta Studios, with a multi-camera configuration like an actual 1950s sitcom. They added in postproduction the old-TV texture and removed the strings of the flying objects in the scene. The exterior of the episode was filmed on the famous Blondie Street at the Warner Bros. Ranch Facilities (Burbank, California), and the first part of the intro was filmed outside of Trilith Studios.
Lastly, I want to talk about the two moments that delivered the uncanny feeling that would creep through the rest of the show. The first is the commercial break, with the only color of the episode, the red dot, and the reference to Stark Industries. And the second and most important, the dinner. There are a lot of techniques that were used during this scene to generate the feeling of unrest. The shots were the only ones filmed apart from the audience, and with a combination of camera close-ups and the sound of a ticking clock, the end result is a masterclass of suspense and a great homage to the Twilight Zone.
See also: Wandavision Characters Guide
Episode 2: “Don’t touch that dial”
The second episode follows many techniques of the 1st. The aspect ratio, the black and white, and the old-TV texture are the most notable. Whereas the 1st episode paid homage to “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” the 2nd had a much more substantial similarity to Bewitched with the animated intro, one of my favorites, and the use of magic with the same techniques of those shows. The show was filmed in Warner Bros. Ranch, Los Angeles, for Wastview’s Neighborhood and the Business District of Disney’s Golden Oak Ranch.
For the most part, this episode continued the 1st one. Not many things changed, but many were added to the show. The most important aspect comes from the leaks of reality that Wanda gets. All those moments got their explanation in the 4th episode. However, they all come as genuine Twilight Zone moments at this point in the series.
Episode 3: “Now in color”
At the end of episode 2, everything in Wanda’s reality comes to color. This is the first significant change in the aesthetic of the series. Until then, the only difference has been the wardrobe and the addition of exterior scenes. Now, the show starts to have much more back and forth between the sitcom and the awareness of the characters.
Wanda’s pregnancy is the main disruptor of this episode, making everything change erratically with a mix of old-time visual effects and modern camera techniques. This is coupled with some nods to the opening scene of the Brandy Bunch and one of its most characteristic clothing. The only new location for this episode appears at the end when Monica flies out of The Hex. This scene was filmed on the field across Trilith Studios.
Episode 4: “We Interrupt this program”
Now we are in the real world. Until now, the series was hinting at the outside world with changes at the end of each episode. Now is the time for explanations. The entire episode is filmed in a modern Marvel movie aesthetics, with a 2.39:1 aspect ratio, steady camera, and low-key illumination. The music and visual effects are the same as in many other Marvel movies.
This episode was also filmed in Los Angeles and Metro Atlanta in very different settings. Most notably, there is the Southern Regional Medical Center (Atlanta, Georgia) for the awaking of Monica, and the Georgia World Congres Center and Starr’s Mill High School parking lot for the SWORD. Headquarters.
Episode 5: “On a very special episode…”
From now on, the reality of Wanda is starting to break from the inside, and Vision is realizing the truth. This is achieved with the cleverest use of the sitcom tropes but with hints to the audience that Vision is seeing beyond the facade. One of my favorites comes in the finale when Wanda tries to end the episode by pulling down the credits, but the scene continues. A subtle way of saying that the discussion is happening outside Wanda’s realm of control.
Beyond that, the show now uses an aspect ratio of 16:9, standard for TV shows since 1990. This serves the double purpose of changing the decade of the sitcom and smoothening the jumps between the outside reality and the Hex. Lastly, this episode is the turning point from the all-comedy sitcom with a bit of mystery to a psychological comedy mixed with action-thriller. The opening scene references Full House, and there are no new filming locations.
Episode 6: “All-New Halloween Spooktacular!”
The reference party! This episode is probably the best for all comic fans because of all the hints that the show gives. The most obvious of all is the clothing. Each character has its comics costume for this Halloween special. Vision and his green “brawler” suit, Wanda and her red Spandex, Quicksilver, Wanda’s kids, and even Agnes have a witch costume (an explicit acknowledgment of the character’s true identity). Besides that, the two children are Wiccan and Speed, two of the young avengers, famous contemporary characters.
The episode is also an homage to Malcolm in the Middle, having one of the best openings of the series, with the videotape aesthetic and the hand-held camera. This change of focus on the main character is fun for the audience and establishes the two kids as essential parts of the show and the future of the franchise. In terms of filming, this episode took place in many new places. Wanda and her kids were trick or treating in some parts of Disney’s Golden Oak Ranch. Still, Vision went looking for the Hex’s frontier in the Meadow View Neighborhood near Atlanta.
Episode 7: “Breaking the fourth wall”
Breaking the fourth wall is the most modern episode, with his clear nods to The Office and Modern Family. It’s the most familiar to identify for younger audiences and probably the most familiar to shoot for the creative team. The episode was filmed in the same place as the others, in Trilith Studios, but with many changes in the technical department. Some other areas are the roads on which Vision travels and where the two teams of agents are working. These places are all near Atlanta, in Fairburn, and in Senoia.
This episode is marked as the last stage of Wanda’s trauma, a moment of chaos and denial, perfect for this type of false documentary appearance. Furthermore, the chaos leaks into the Hex and things start to change without control. All of this is both an homage to the deconstructivism of 2000’s shows and revisiting the decoration of prior decades, ramping up the tension as the reality itself is shattering.
One last thing that this episode gives us is the fantastic Munster-inspired song of “Agatha all along.” It was filmed during each episode’s shooting and put together for this finale, giving it a real vibe of remembrance while being really catchy.
Episode 8: “Previously On”
Previously On is the last look back into the past that Wanda does during the show. It is framed like a twisted therapy session by Agatha wanting to know Wanda’s powers’ true origin. From now on, the show is fully made with the traditional MCU aesthetics, which hints at the fact that everything seen in the episode is from reality. This episode is the answer to all the fan’s questions about the character, and maybe because of that, the pacing is much slower than the rest of the series. There are no new locations in this episode, and the new places like the Avenger’s Compound and Wanda’s house were all in the studio.
Episode 9: “The Series Finale”
Let’s end this the Marvel way. The series’ last episode is a returning to the Marvel we all love, with big flashy powers and explosions, punches, guns, and loud noise. Initially, the episode was going to feature Doctor Strange, but in the end, the showrunners decided that the series didn’t need the character and that he would rob Wanda’s empowerment. The episode was mainly filmed in Disney’s Golden Oak Ranch and Warner Bros. Ranch. The post-credit scene lake was added to stock footage with CGI. The best part about this episode was to finally see The Scarlet Witch in all her splendor on the big screen.
See also: The Ultimate Sparky WandaVision Guide
Aesthetics, what sets Wandavision apart
WandaVision is hard to describe. It’s not a single thing. Instead, it explores multiple things, from a multi-camera sitcom to full Marvel cinematic grandiosity. The aesthetics change considerably from episode to episode, from the image composition and sound design to the screen ratio.
Episodes 1st to 3rd use an aspect ratio of 4:3 in order to mimic the style of that era. The first two episodes were filmed in black and white, making the show feel out of time and more dramatic when the light change. Another thing that the black and white style brings is the uncanny sensation when something of color appears.
Episodes 5th to 7th use the 16:9 aspect ratio standard for TV. This aspect usually covers the entire space of a widescreen and is much keener to a modern audience. This aspect is reminiscent of many shows that I’ll touch upon later, and most audiences will feel a sense of nostalgia and closeness to these episodes. That change in appearance also helps us move to the last episodes, which are entirely Marvel classics.
Clothing is also interesting to analyze. The wardrobe of each episode serves as a clue on which decade we are on and references the shows they are trying to imitate. The character’s clothes always match their primary color palette, red for Wanda, green for Vision, purple for Agatha, etc. Many comics were the inspiration for Wandavision, but the thing that’s great about the show is that it’s an original creation. It was born out of the imagination of Jac Schaffer and the creative team at Marvel.
There is so much to talk about the aesthetics of Wandavision, but it would be too long. Just consider how much the series changes from episode to episode, from decade to decade. These changes are significant because the setting and decorations used in the show are highly determined by the aesthetic they want to achieve.
Question: Where was Wandavision’s physical location?
Answer: Most scenes were filmed in Trilith Studios, Georgia, where all the interior scenes were made. As for the exterior scenes, one location was used before the pandemic, Warner Bros. Ranch in Blondie Street (Burbank, California), and the other after the lock-down, Golden Oak Ranch.
Question: How was The Hex made?
Answer: The Hex was made by Wanda involuntarily by her grief in the story. Her powers manifested an alternative reality in which she felt safe. On the other hand, in the show’s production, The Hex was entirely made by the VFX team. Demarco, the VFX supervisor, said that the Hex limit should be similar to the cathode rays of old TVs. They achieved this using layers of entangled lines and RGB distortion effects.
Question: What were the comic inspirations for Wandavision?
Answer: As said in the article, Wandavision is an original creation, meaning it’s not entirely pulled from a single comic. Instead, it is based on a series of comics that give some explanation and side-stories to the plot. Some of the comics are: “House of M,” “Giant-size Avengers Vol. 4”, “Avengers: Disassembled,” and “Avengers: The Children’s Crusade,” among others.
Wandavision is a masterpiece, a deconstruction of sitcoms on the one hand and Marvel’s movies on the other. It rocked the door hard when it came and gave the fans many things to discuss for years to come. The show is a charm to watch, and it was a real challenge to make, so enjoy it and talk about it. So in that way, maybe, Marvel will decide to go further on that path and give us more quality entertainment.