Women of WandaVision [Women’s History Month]
There’s so much that could be, and has been, said about the excellent Marvel TV show WandaVision, from ever evolving fan theories, to deep dive theme explorations and even half an hour long easter egg hunt videos. It’s become a cultural phenomenon and is one of the most talked about shows of 2021, a welcomed distraction from the 2020 hangover we’re still suffering from. For me it succeeded as an exciting experimental format, an incredible Marvel installment and a beautiful exploration of grief on equal levels which had me sat attentively at the television every Friday night. I laughed, I cried and I frequently yelled “I understood that reference!”. The cast were incredible, the homages were perfectly executed and the writing was intensely emotive.
So we’ve gathered that I adored WandaVision and I’m sure I could spend plenty more time simply gushing over the show, but I will restrain myself and get to my point. To celebrate Women’s History Month and the amazing women in the creative industries I wanted to look at the women of Wandavision, the ones who dazzled us on the screen and behind the scenes. Here’s to the women who brought joy to the living rooms of Marvel fans everywhere.
Let’s start with the showrunner, the creator behind this bedazzling series who served as the executive producer and head writer of the full series, Jac Schaeffer. Jac broke onto the scene with the sci-fi rom-com film Timer that she wrote, produced and directed; she then moved onto writing The Hustle before being brought into the Marvel fold and putting her name to WandaVision and the new Black Widow solo film. She wasn’t alone at the producers table either, with a lot of women involved in the production of this show. Sarah Finn, the consulting producer, is also the woman behind the casting of pretty much every MCU entry and Marvel TV show, so we have her to thank for the amazing Marvel family we have right now.
Alongside these two is Victoria Alonso, a Marvel alumni whose name is attached to pretty much every film entry so far, and is a producer on the upcoming Black Widow film and the Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor sequels. Mary Kane is a veteran of the producing world going from The Driller Killer, to Agent Carter and then working on WandaVision as well. Relative newcomers to the Marvel game Mary Livanos is a co-executive producer who is working as executive producer on the Captain Marvel sequel, and Gretchen Enders who was not only supervising producer on five episodes but also wrote episode two ‘Don’t Touch That Dial’, which involved the hilarious magic show mess up and introduced Vision’s ultimate nemesis…chewing gum. It’s great to see so many women overseeing this series and guiding it to the greatness it became.
Speaking of writers, there was no shortage of women behind the scripts for this series either. Mackenzie Dohr, a previous writer on The Mindy Project and Locke & Key was the executive story editor on the full series and is co-credited as the writer of ‘On a Very Special Episode…’ bringing in the late 80’s and early 90’s homages and getting to introduce the ‘recast’ Pietro. Bringing us into technicolour was Megan McDonnell, a staff writer across the full series but also writer of ‘Now in Colour’ and co-writer of ‘We Interrupt This Programme’, which involved the heartbreaking moment Monica Rambeau returned from the snap to discover her mother had passed away. These two episodes were integral to the shift in the series, taking us from formulated sitcoms to the world beyond the Hex and letting us see glimpses of Wanda’s grief that defined the show. Then there’s staff writer Laura Donney who is credited for writing the episode that collectively broke all of our hearts, ‘Previously On’. She is the woman behind one of the most beautiful, provoking and emotional lines from the series, “What is grief, if not love persevering?” Excuse me for a moment while I weep uncontrollably.
I really appreciate Schaffer’s commitment to having an evenly gender split writers room, it’s what allowed for the show to be so well rounded and capable of exploring loss and family without giving in to tropes and stereotypes, well unless they worked with that week’s homage. WandaVision is a beautifully written show and clearly demonstrates the array of talent behind it, a group of people that managed to include a ridiculous amount of references, hilarious and loving moments and so much unbearable sadness in one short series.
Now, let’s get to the women on the screen, the incredible actresses who brought these characters to life. Elizabeth Olsen takes centre stage and is the beating heart of WandaVision. Within the MCU Wanda Maximoff has been a bit of a background character, despite being the catalyst for many of the events of the franchise, she was not given the spotlight to explore her background and her grief until now. Olsen leans into every era of Wanda she plays, watching her move through the stages of grief and constantly toying between a sympathetic superhero who longs for normality, to potential world ending super villain and back to a woman accepting and trying to move forward with her life was thrilling to watch.
From nosey next door neighbour to being ‘Agatha All Along’ Kathryn Hahn nailed every aspect of her performance and is an absolute delight to watch. This female villain is a cackling ball of sarcasm and power and if the MCU doesn’t bring Hahn back they are just plain wrong. Alongside Hahn as a newcomer to Marvel is Teyonah Parris, playing an adult Monica Rambeau. Parris brings power to Monica, even before her eyes start glowing, and I happily anticipate her larger role in future ventures. Then there’s fan favourite, Darcy, played by Kat Dennings, an already loved character who just gets better with every outing. Dennings plays Darcy as the conduit for the audience, heavily invested in the show she’s watching and waiting for the next narrative twist. She’s our eyes and ears, our hearts and our comic relief.
The casting for WandaVision was excellent and included so many great women, such as Selena Anduze as Agent Rodriguez, everyone’s favourite 70’s mum Debra Jo Rupp as Mrs Hart/Sharon Davis, Victoria Blade bringing all the fan theories in the commercials and Emma Caulfield Ford as the town’s queen bee Dottie Jones. Then there were the women who we’re not meant to notice. Here’s a shout out to the strong women behind the stunt scenes in the series. C.C. Ice, Hayley Wright and Karin Justman played Olsen’s stunt doubles adding the action to Wanda’s powers. Nadia Lorencz, Janeshia Adams-Ginyard, Niahlah Hope and Jwaundace Candece were Parris’ doubles, pulling off her new superhero stunts. Whitney Coleman was Hahn’s witchy double and Athena Perample was Dennings’ Halloween double. These women brought the epic fight scenes and magic battles to WandaVision.
WandaVision really has taken 2021 by storm and will most definitely be making appearances on many top ten lists. It’s great to see so many creative and talented women working on such a successful show from all areas. The beautiful sets, costumes and overall aesthetic was headed by a strong team including Mayes C. Rubeo, Kathy Orlando, Chikako Suzuki, Sandra Doyle Carmola, Sharon Davis and Rachel Robb Kondrath who allowed us to celebrate the Golden Age of Television through their creative designs. There seemed to be inclusivity everywhere, Nona Khodai was part of the editing team that put the intricate narrative together whilst Tara Demarco was the visual effects supervisor that added the Marvel magic into the series.
Now of course my intention is not to discredit the rest of the cast and crew that worked on this, Kevin Feige is as always doing a great job creating a universe we love, Matt Shakman undertook an incredible task directing and did an excellent job, and Paul Bettany steals my heart in everything he’s in. There was a lot of amazing talent behind this show, but often in comic book media, along with a lot of fandoms, women can feel a little excluded so this was a chance to shout out to the women that bring these incredible geek fueling, fandom perpetuating shows and movies to our screens. Here’s to them!