Marvel's first sitcom: Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany on how 'The Dick Van Dyke Show' inspired 'WandaVision'

It's no secret that a key part of Marvel's extremely successful playbook is tapping into specific Hollywood genres to inform the studio’s superhero films. Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014) was a political thriller in the style of Three Days in the Condor or All the President's Men. Ant-Man (2015) was a heist movie that nodded to Ocean’s Eleven and The Thomas Crown Affair. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) was a new twist on the John Hughes '80s teen comedy. Captain Marvel (2019) took inspiration from '90s actioners like T2: Judgment Day and RoboCop. You get the idea.

Now the Marvel Cinematic Universe is embracing a whole new direction with the upcoming Disney+ spinoff WandaVision. As revealed at this past weekend's D23 Expo in Anaheim, Calif., the main inspiration for the limited series, which reunites Elizabeth Olsen's Wanda Maximoff (aka Scarlet Witch) and Paul Bettany's Vision is The Dick Van Dyke Show, as in the black-and-white family sitcom that aired from 1961 to 1966.

Marvel is producing its first sitcom.

Promotional poster for 'WandaVision' unveiled at D23 emphasizes show's 1950s sitcom vibe. (Photo: Marvel/Disney)
Promotional poster for WandaVision unveiled at D23 underscores show's 1950s sitcom vibe. (Photo: Marvel/Disney)

"We're allowed to say it is," Olsen confirmed to Yahoo Entertainment (watch above). "That is how it begins," added Bettany, "and it moves into more familiar epic territory later. But it's absolutely a mash-up of sitcoms."

In fact, Olsen revealed, the producers are still debating whether to add a laugh track.

While the android Vision suffered a (supposedly permanent) death in Avengers: Infinity War, speculation from fans and press posits that the series will take inspiration from the popular comic book House of M, in which a grieving Wanda resurrects him — in her own psyche, anyway — in her own idyllic world. And in this case, that's 1950s American suburbia (we know Wanda is a big TV fan thanks to a scene in Captain America: Civil War). The series will also serve as a precursor to the May 2021 theatrical release Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which will team Wanda with Doctor Strange in what Marvel is billing as its first horror-tinged film.

(Credit: Disney)
(Credit: Marvel/Disney)

WandaVision's sitcom vibe helps explain its supporting cast, which was also announced at D23. Randall Park and Kat Dennings return as Jimmy Woo (Scott Lang's secret agent foil from Ant-Man) and Darcy Lewis (Jane Foster's wisecracking assistant from Thor), respectively, while Kathryn Hahn joins the MCU as a character thus far only introduced as "Nosy Neighbor."

"I'm so proud of that," Hahn laughed at D23. "Nosy Neighbor. My kids are gonna be so proud."

WandaVision premieres on Disney+ in 2021.

Watch Angelina Jolie talk about joining the MCU in Eternals:

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