will debut its Marvel original series WandaVision on Jan. 15, the company said Thursday, an announcement that coincided with the first anniversary of the streaming service's launch. WandaVision will mark the first opportunity in more than a year for
Marvel Cinematic Universe
fans to step back into the narratives of the MCU, after the coronavirus pandemic not only delayed all of Disney Plus' Marvel TV shows but also pushed back the entire pipeline of Marvel big-screen movies.
Marvel's Disney Plus shows are designed to be essential viewing for the studio's fans, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige said last year. The characters and narratives of the MCU are being knitted together between theatrical movies and original series on Disney Plus. So Benedict Cumberbatch, for example, will be joined by Scarlet Witch actress Elizabeth Olsen in the theatrical sequel Doctor Strange: In The Multiverse of Madness, which is now delayed until 2022. But to understand how Olsen's character arrived at the events on the big screen, fans will need to watch WandaVision.
WandaVision will also be the first
streaming service. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was originally planned to be its first live-action Marvel original series released on Disney Plus, but coronavirus disruptions pushed the show past its scheduled August release, and now it won't hit Disney Plus until next year. The timing for when other Marvel shows come out remains unclear.
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A Loki series featuring Tom Hiddleston was slated for spring 2021, and a Hawkeye series was aimed for fall 2021, starring Jeremy Renner and featuring Kate Bishop, who in the comics becomes a second Hawkeye. But except for WandaVision, Disney hasn't specified release dates for the rest of the Marvel original shows.
With new MCU movies absent from cinema screens for months, WandaVision steps into the gap left when the coronavirus and Covid-19 pandemic delayed movie blockbusters like Black Widow and Eternals. It's been a year and a half since the last Marvel movie Spider-Man: Far From Home, and even longer since the climactic Avengers adventures Infinity War and Endgame, during which Vision paid the ultimate price in the fight against Thanos.
WandaVision seems to draw on a 2016 run of comics in which the Vision attempted to live a normal family life in an everyday suburb, but it'll no doubt go in its own direction. The cast includes Avengers stars Olsen and Paul Bettany as unconventional couple Wanda Maximoff (aka Scarlet Witch) and the pink-faced android Vision. The central mystery of the new show looks to be how Wanda and Vision have been reunited following his apparent destruction.
Disney Plus describes WandaVision as "a blend of classic television and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in which Wanda Maximoff and Vision -- two super-powered beings living idealized suburban lives -- begin to suspect that everything is not as it seems."
The series is directed by Matt Shakman. He was nominated for an Emmy this year for directing the pilot episode of Hulu's period comedy The Great, and he has directed episodes of Game of Thrones, Fargo and Succession. Jac Schaeffer is WandaVision's head writer; she cowrote the screenplay for Captain Marvel and was one of the revolving-door of writers for Black Widow.
WandaVision is the first title in Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It'll be followed on Disney Plus not only by the shows spotlighting The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki and Hawkeye, but also forthcoming titles featuring Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight and She-Hulk. But the COVID pandemic has disrupted production on many, casting doubt on when they'll come out.