‘WandaVision’: Paul Bettany Definitively Answers Whether Marvel’s Latest Is a Movie or a TV Show

Marvel fans have seen heroes such as Daredevil, Cloak and Dagger, and even the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. lead live-action TV series. But while those all technically exist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, WandaVision remains a first for the company. After years of operating separately, the company’s film and TV divisions are united under Marvel Studios. So is WandaVision truly a TV series or is it a Marvel movie released to Disney+ in installments?

Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany at the San Diego Comic-Con International 2019
Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany at the San Diego Comic-Con International 2019 | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

Marvel has reinvented the concept of cinema with the MCU

The confusion is understandable. After all, the MCU has redefined audiences’ understanding of what cinema could be. Over the course of more than 20 films, Marvel Studios created an interconnected web of MCU stories featuring dozens of characters and several individual franchises. Like the comics before it, the MCU created a unified continuity for all its movies.

It’s this “it’s all connected” approach that has kept fans engaged. Because each film adds new layers to the larger MCU tapestry, Marvel Studios has been able to adapt even unlikely characters like Thor, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Ant-Man into major blockbusters. And so WandaVision continues the company’s trend of leveraging fan goodwill with risk-taking tales.

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‘WandaVision’ takes the superhero couple into the world of TV sitcoms

Until now, Wanda Maximoff aka Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) have existed on the big screen. In this way too, WandaVision maintains the cinematic feel of the MCU. But in addition to its weekly release on Disney+, the show’s story itself plays heavily into the history of TV comedy. After all, Bettany even told Men’s Health about how he researched the classic sitcoms which influenced WandaVision.

“The first episode is definitely an homage to The Dick Van Dyke Show. And I watched every single Dick Van Dyke Show, I think. I was so nervous, and so I watched every one of those things. They’re extraordinary. The talent that they had. Their ability — the song and dance man and girls. They can do jokes and pratfalls. The amount of skill involved is really something. So, yeah there was a lot of that.”

The actor goes on to call out Bewitched, The Brady Bunch, and Family Ties as other shows which come into play. As fans note, the second WandaVision episode goes into the 1960s, with clear callbacks to Bewitched. Later WandaVision will, according to Bettany, reference Malcolm in the Middle and Modern Family as it catches up to the present day.

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Paul Bettany confirms whether ‘WandaVision’ is a movie or TV show

Looking back on his time with Marvel, Bettany reflected on how his voice role as J.A.R.V.I.S. took him to Vision. And now Bettany gets to play that character on what is, at times, a TV comedy. And as he told Men’s Health, he is adamant that WandaVision is a TV show, despite its MCU ties.

“I did not expect that at all. I didn’t expect anything. … I guess it’s a lesson in being well-mannered, because I guess when they had a job vacancy [for the role of Vision, they went ‘Hey, how about that Paul fellow?’ And that was really it. And cut to doing this TV show—and it is a TV show. 

I mean, I think you can make the argument that the whole MCU has been a sort of experiment in what we think of as television, in terms of it being episodic formula, with spin-offs, and then it all interweaves. … It, of course, has an overarching story, and it is very much embedded in the MCU. But I think it’s going to make fans really look at the MCU in a different way.”

For WandaVision, Bettany and Olsen even filmed some scenes in front of a live studio audience. That approach only further solidifies the project’s status as a TV show. MCU fans will have to become accustomed to the blurred lines between movies and TV. After all, Phase 4 has several Disney+ series on the way. Next up? The Falcon and the Winter Soldier in March 2021.