Ever since we first learned about WandaVision, it seemed clear the comic book inspiration for the series was the acclaimed 2015/2016 thriller The Vision by Tom King. But a new interview points to a completely different inspiration that could reveal even more about the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
What Happened? — On November 10, Entertainment Weekly published its cover story on WandaVision, the first Marvel series on Disney+. Originally set to premiere in spring 2021, after the theatrical release of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, delays forced by Covid-19 bumped the show up to a still-unknown date in December 2020.
Among many cool details, including how WandaVision was shot like a classic sitcom before a live audience (prior to the pandemic) and how the writers took TV legend Dick Van Dyke out to lunch, the magazine also confirmed the comic book inspirations for the series — kind of.
In Entertainment Weekly, Kevin Feige confirmed the series' premise came out of his own exhaustion at political news and seeking refuge in TV reruns:
“I would get ready for the day and watch some old sitcom because I couldn’t take the news anymore ... Getting ready to go to set over the last few years, I kept thinking of how influential these programs were on our society and on myself, and how certainly I was using it as an escape from reality where things could be tied up in a nice bow in 30 minutes.”
What about the comics? — Naturally, being a Marvel production, the comic books ought to be the go-to source for fans who want to better understand the new movies and shows. Until now, it was believed that Tom King's Eisner-winning The Vision from 2015-2016 was the chief inspiration for the series.
In The Vision, King imagined the synthetic Avenger creating a nuclear family and living among humans in an idyllic Washington, D.C. suburb. While life looked perfect for the Visions — almost too perfect — a dark secret crept beneath that threatened to undo Vision's new life. That premise seemed to inspire WandaVision, itself an homage to 1960s sitcoms that depicted rosy suburban family lives with something dark lurking outside the edges.
Entertainment Weekly doesn't once bring up Tom King's The Vision. In fact, the comics are only mentioned a scant few times, and none of them explain which comics inspired WandaVision. Instead, it's in an accompanying video interview where Olsen discusses the comic books that shaped her to portrayal Wanda. Based on what Olsen says, it's possible she's talking about House of M.
House of M — Olsen says in the interview that director Joss Whedon gave her a stack of comics years ago when she was preparing to shoot Avengers: Age of Ultron, adding that she's been hoping to bring some of those stories to live-action for years. She confirms that WandaVision is that long-awaited opportunity.
"I've always been hungry to lean into the comic book stories that we're leaning into in this show. And I didn't know if I'd have the opportunity to explore it," Olsen said. "Which is the reason why I wanted to be a part of the Avengers to begin with, when Joss asked me to."
"He said, 'Look at these comics and tell me if you're interested.' Those specific comics are the ones that Feige said, 'This is what our show's going to be about for WandaVision.'"
In a 2015 interview with Wall Street Journal timed to the release of Age of Ultron, Olsen also talked about the comics and her character's role in them. "In the comics, Scarlet Witch is eventually the most powerful person in the universe," Olsen said. "She's the ultimate superhero, and she's a character that connects parallel universes, as well."
Let's connect the dots for a second. House of M, a 2005 Marvel crossover involving the X-Men, is all about Scarlet Witch having a breakdown and rewriting the fabric of reality to bring back her lost children. She creates an alternate reality all based on the emotional loss of her family, and it impacts the Marvel Universe on a widespread scale.
While critical opinion remains divided, House of M is still one of the biggest Marvel stories of the 2000s and positions Scarlet Witch as one of the most powerful individuals in the Marvel Universe.
House of M wasn't written by Joss Whedon, who also directed two Avengers movies. The writer/filmmaker spent a few years in the mid-2000s writing Astonishing X-Men, from 2004 to 2008. A break in 2005, where Whedon had to deal with the release of his film Serenity, allowed writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Olivier Coipel to collaborate on House of M.
In a 2005 interview with Chud, Whedon didn't seem to be the biggest fan of House of M on the basis of it ignoring his own comic book run, Astonishing X-Men.
"I read what they were doing, I read it in Wizard, and I said, ‘Uh, this dialogue doesn’t reflect what’s happened,’" Whedon said. "So they changed it and it still doesn’t reflect what happened. I was like, ‘I could have explained what had happened!’ I had played it pretty close to the chest because nobody had bothered me about what I was doing, and maybe I should have told them more – it turned into a little bit of a clusterbone."
Still, if Whedon gave Olsen some comics, which Feige then told Olsen would be the very material WandaVision is taking inspiration from, does that mean WandaVision is inspired by House of M?
Further supporting this theory is that WandaVision is meant to have ties to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which Entertainment Weekly confirms is still the plan despite Marvel's reshuffled schedule. Like House of M, is Wanda breaking reality in WandaVision by bringing back a lost love (Vision) and creating a whole new universe in the process?
The Inverse Analysis — It should be acknowledged no Marvel movie or TV show is ever a direct adaptation of an existing comic. There are plenty of liberties and influences at play at any time.
For what it's worth, Tom King seems chill about the whole thing, tweeting excitement for WandaVision while reminding followers his Vision is on sale in collected editions. "I see [artists] @ghwalta and @MitchGerads influence in this image that’s rushing around the world. So cool to be able to work with artists that good," tweeted King.
There could still be plenty of influence from The Vision as there is House of M. WandaVision is by no means an adaptation of any one comic, but it could be a remix of several. Until Kevin Feige gives fans a reading list, finding out is part of the fun of watching WandaVision unfold.
WandaVision will be released on Disney+ in December 2020.