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Paul Bettany thought he was being fired by Marvel. He was offered bonkers 'Nick at Nite'-inspired 'WandaVision' TV series instead.

·Senior Correspondent, Yahoo Entertainment
·3 min read
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Paul Bettany figured his time was up. And he’d had a nice run, appearing in seven installments of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, beginning in a voice role as J.A.R.V.I.S. in Iron Man (2008) and ending, presumably, with the death of his beloved android hero Vision in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War. He even told actress-wife Jennifer Connelly his endgame had arrived.

“My contract was up, I’d just died in a movie, and I got a phone call from the boss saying, ‘Come into the office’ — and you know what that means,” Bettany tells Yahoo Entertainment in a new interview (watch above). “I kind of looked at my wife and went, ‘I think I’m getting canned.’

“So I went and I [said], ‘Look, it’s been a great run, thank you so much, no hard feelings.’ And they went, ‘Wait, are you quitting?’ And I went, ‘No, aren’t you firing me?’ And they went, ‘No, we’re gonna pitch you a TV show.’ So I didn’t really listen to the pitch, I was just relieved that I still had a job.”

That show, WandaVision, co-starring Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen, becomes Marvel’s first TV spinoff to hit the Disney+ streaming service this Friday, while also launching the MCU’s Phase 4. The ambitious and deliciously odd series finds longtime hero couple Wanda, aka Scarlett Witch (Olsen), and Vision living happily married in a world of classic American sitcoms, beginning in a black-and-white ’50s, I Love Lucy/Leave It to Beaver-style premiere before eventually transforming into color. The episodes play like Nick at Nite offerings, though with constant hints that something sinister lurks behind the simulation — or whatever it is these characters are trapped in.

Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany in 'WandaVision' (Disney+)
Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany in WandaVision. (Photo: Disney+)

“Their life happens to be an American sitcom with Twilight Zone-y elements, and that just sounded really, really fun to me,” says Olsen. “If you’re gonna do a Marvel TV show, might as well make the format of television necessary for the storytelling. So I just thought it was brilliant.”

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige explains that just like every other project the studio has produced, the idea for the series generated from the comics, namely Tom King’s Vision series, which followed the android and his family (not including Wanda) in the suburbs.

“That tapped into my own fascination and love with old television,” Feige says.

“The intention was to take what we love and what I grew up with on television and use it as a storytelling device. … We didn’t to make fun of these old shows, we didn’t want to parody or point out how goofy these shows were. We want to point out how moving these shows could be, and how important they could be for people as they travel through their lives.”

WandaVision premieres Friday, Jan. 15 on Disney+.

Watch the trailer:

— Video produced by Jon San and edited by John Santo

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