We interview WandaVision director Matt Shakman about the exciting series finale, fan theories, and much more.
WandaVision wrapped its 9-episode arc by shedding powerful light on Wanda’s grief process and giving audiences a peek into Monica Rambeau’s powers, but fans are still hungry to unpack more of its MCU connections. Knowing that the final episode will not only lead into Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness but potentially even Captain Marvel 2 certainly doesn’t hurt its rewatch value.
Director Matt Shakman sat down with Screen Rant to pick apart some of our most burning questions, from the secrets of Señor Scratchy to the casting of Evan Peters and much more.
Out of all the different filming techniques that you use to help capture each decade, which technique did you like using the most? And would you work with it again?
Matt Shakman: This show was so specific – in terms of playing around with aspect ratios, different vintage lenses and lighting – that it’s hard to say what I would carry forward. But I will say that it required that I use every tool in my toolkit, and also pick up a bunch of new tools as well to be able to do it.
But then you’re also in the Marvel world, so you’re shooting scenes where people are flying around blasting each other in the sky – which is its own set of challenges. And I really enjoyed being able to go back and forth between the comedic sitcom world and the large scale Marvel world. It was a show unlike anything else I’ll ever do, I’m sure.
Last time we spoke, I asked about the twins and you said we’ll talk about it next time. Here we are next time. Can the twins live outside of the Hex?
Matt Shakman: Well, probably not, given that they’re made of the same stuff as Vision. We see Vision try to go outside the Hex and can’t, and then at the end, the Hex comes down, and and the twins are tucked into bed for the last time, and Vision is no more too.
In terms of the rules of the Hex, the choice that Wanda has to make at the end is whether to let the people of Westview go or to keep her family, and she decides that of course she can’t keep her family and the twins must go too. But then there’s a teaser at the end, so who knows what’s to come? There’s some exciting things in the future.
I haven’t seen a show that everyone looks at frame-by-frame since Lost. Speaking of, where is Wanda in that second post-credit scene?
Matt Shakman: A calm place.
In that calm place, a lot of fans notice that there’s these things around her. Are those planets or universes? What are those things around Wanda’s head?
Matt Shakman: I wouldn’t want to say too much. I can’t say too much, except that obviously she’s studying up and learning a lot from the Darkhold. And we’ll see where that goes.
Speaking of the Darkhold, is this the same Darkhold from the Agents of SHIELD continuity, or is this a completely different book from the one that they used?
Matt Shakman: Yes, we designed it anew. We didn’t look at the other Darkholds that had been designed. It is part of the Marvel Universe though, so I would imagine it’s the same book. I don’t know exactly how it was used in those other shows, because I wasn’t a regular viewer, but the Darkhold has a comics origin. Its mythology will continue to be developed.
The original show was slated for 10 episodes. Are there any characters that you were planning on introducing to audiences that had to be cut due to the restructuring?
Matt Shakman: No. It was always going to be six hours, or up to six hours, and how we chose to structure it was up to us. Disney+ was great about letting us play around with how we wanted to structure it. Certainly, when we were doing episodes that were just sitcoms, they should be the length of just sitcoms. When you’re starting to bring those worlds together, it can get longer, and when you’re playing out your endgame, it needs to get even longer still. That’s why the run times adjusted.
It was said that the writers had a lot of freedom in the decision of how Wanda’s powers work. What were some of the main inspiration choices in regards to making the Hex appear and the world building of how her power worked?
Matt Shakman: There’s a great history of Wanda’s powers in the comics, and we looked at that, of course. And there’s this idea of chaos magic, which is important to our story and has been important to many stories about Wanda, which is defined at least as the power to create things out of whole cloth. To bring about realities, certainly, but to make manifest in the world not just illusions, which is a lot of what magic is about, but real things. That’s what makes the Scarlet Witch so powerful.
We wanted to explore that power, and we wanted to take what was already established so beautifully in all the other Marvel films and evolve it. [What] you’ve seen before becomes darker, has a darker core, has a different look to its magic. It’s maturing in the same way that Wanda is.
Also: how do you build realities? We see her create Westview, and then we see her take it down. We see the things that she has created, Vision and the kids, and what happens to them when their reality is in jeopardy. We borrowed a lot from the language of television; we borrowed a lot from how television evolved, so the Hex evolves through the eras just as much as everything else. The 50s and 60s Hex is very different from the later Hex, which is informed by digital. When digital is being introduced into the television landscape, the Hex changes its look and feel.
When you woke up after WandaVision in the morning, were you prepared for everybody to be talking about the aerospace engineer on Twitter?
Matt Shakman: No. I found it hilarious, because it had absolutely nothing behind it except information. None of us on the set had even thought that it would be read as anything else, which is probably our limited imagination. We should have realized that we were putting something out there, but there’s so many things that get said once or two times in the course of a narrative that don’t catch on. The fact that that one was grabbed onto was, I think, unique to the fact that we were coming out weekly and that people were paying such close attention and looking for things.
But for us, no. Monica is just trying to figure out how she can get back in. She’s talking to Darcy about what she’s up against, and she’s like, “I know a way do this. I got a guy,” basically. That’s the scene, but it was interpreted in a pretty different way.
I fell into this trap also, Like, what happened to the beekeeper in episode 2?
Matt Shakman: The beekeeper would be like anyone else who has been transformed from their real life persona into a member of Wanda’s reality. In the case of SWORD, we saw her defang the drones and turn them into toy helicopters. Much in the same way, she took this agent in a hazmat suit and turned him into a beekeeper. He’s probably wandering around Westview, he got turned back into a hazmat suit person, and he’s probably looking for some SWORD agent so he can debrief and get a physical.
I just recently watched an interview with you about how there was a sequence where the rabbit was revealed to be a demon monster. Can you dive into that a little bit more?
Matt Shakman: Yeah. We didn’t have time, really, in the way we were structuring the finale to go deep into that storyline. We did shoot a version of that scene, which is super super fun. But ultimately the finale had to be focused on Wanda’s story, on Wanda versus Agatha, on the Visions, and ultimately leading up to Vision and Wanda saying goodbye. Spending that much time in Agatha’s basement just didn’t make sense for the overall narrative.
But it was fun. We’d established this great rabbit, Señor Scratchy, and the boys have this idea that they should get the Darkhold which is down in the basement. Señor Scratchy just happens to be innocently sitting in front of it/guarding it. They go to give him a little rub, and he transforms American Werewolf In London style into this demon buddy. It was Agatha’s familiar. In the comics, she has a cat, I believe.
Do you think that sequence would have given audiences a different understanding of Agatha and her pet?
Matt Shakman: Probably, for sure. In the end, there’s so many great ideas that you have as you make something, and you come up with a million things that you don’t end up using. Because ultimately, the story that we’re telling is a story about grief and how you overcome loss, and how you move on after you’ve suffered so much trauma.
We learn plenty about Agatha when you go back and look. We see a lot of how she works and about her magic. And the most important thing is, she is envious of Wanda’s magic, and she has this ability to take magic from other witches. So, that’s what she’s there to do. “This is wasted on Wanda; she doesn’t appreciate it, so give it to someone who knows what to do with it.”
With Evan Peters being cast, I ‘m sure that there had to be a ton of secrecy around that. Talk to me about how that even came about, because that’s such an amazing callback to the Fox characters.
First off, he’s a great actor, and he is a huge asset to any project that he’s in. He can do anything, which is what is true of Kathryn Hahn, Teyonah Parris, and Lizzie and Paul, and everybody in this cast.We ask them to do crazy, bold, broad comedy, and also drama and action and all of this stuff. And Evan Peters can just do it. Regardless of the meta part of it, and the exploration of who he is now versus where he’s been in the Fox universe – he’s just a great actor, and we’re so happy to have him.
Then it’s also about Agatha wanting to mess with Wanda and trying to push her; find a trigger point, figure out a way to learn more about how this world was created, so she can figure out how she can take it. So, she sends over Fietro. It’s another idea about grief, too, that you will see what you want to see when you’re that lost. She so wants to see her brother that she’s willing to accept someone who she knows in her heart is not. And then it’s about knowing that you’re living with a stranger over the next couple of episodes, the uncertainty that creates, and the drama that ensues from that was really interesting to us.
And then on top of it, as a show that was meta and was playing with meta, here was a chance to play with the sitcom trope of recasting. Just moving on boldly and saying, “Hey, it’s Pietro. Okay, moving on.” And that was fun for us too.
In the end, we answered who Ralph was. I’m sure if we had not answered who Ralph was, there would have been a lot of very unhappy fans as well. So, he was this poor guy living in this house at the end of the street, and Agatha moved in and gave him a new job.
Was he Jimmy Woo’s witness?
Matt Shakman: Can’t possibly answer that today. Stay tuned.
Monica’s powers are realized but not yet fully defined for the audience. Were you given boundaries and parameters for the character?
Matt Shakman: Not really, just to explore a common precedent for her character and see what had been created for Photon/Spectrum/Captain Marvel, see how her powers had been used then and come up with our own version of it. Because this origin is different, and we see how what Wanda has created helps to create her.
That trip through the Hex boundary literally breaks her apart, which is very similar to what happens to Wanda too. There’s a kind of death that happens to Wanda before she can be reborn as the Scarlet Witch. And it’s the same thing for Monica; the radiation pulls her apart into a whole spectrum of different Monicas. And then she’s also being confronted with her life flashing before her. We hear audio clips: she’s confronting her grief in the same way that Wanda does, confronting her grief and her loss. And it’s through that sheer force of will that she creates herself anew; that she pulls all those things in.
What she’s doing is controlling the wavelength of energy. She’s controlling the spectrums of energy, which is what she does. She aligns herself with that Hex; instead of being defeated by it, she controls it. She creates a path through, and she’s then able to see the world anew.
Is she in full control of that yet? Not really. Does she know all that she can do? No, not yet. Not really. She’s becoming; she’s in the process of figuring out who she is, which is exactly what’s happening with Wanda too.