Spoiler Alert: The following interview with WandaVision EP and head scribe Jac Schaeffer contains spoilers about the series’ final episode “The Series Finale”
If you haven’t already read our recap of WandaVision‘s “The Series Finale”, you can read it here.
But let’s get down to brass tacks ASAP with the Disney+/Marvel series EP and head scribe Jac Schaeffer telling us what happened and where Scarlet Witch is going. Schaeffer has a story by-credit on the upcoming Black Widow movie currently scheduled for theatrical release on May 7, and she co-wrote the screenplay for the MGM Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson comedy The Hustle.
So, as the title of the episode indicates, this is really ‘The Series Finale”, right?
Jac Schaeffer: It’s like what Mr. (Kevin) Feige says, ‘It wasn’t necessarily the plan to have another season, but in the Marvel world you never know.’
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Was this the ending you envisioned from the onset of the season, i.e. Wanda realizes that she is the Scarlet Witch, Vision and the sons disappear with the Hex, and she heads off to the wilderness? Or was there an alternative ending that the writers were toying with in any shape or form?
JS: Not really. This is essentially what we envisioned from the very beginning. This was always going to be a story about grief, and we took that seriously, and it’s a little bit reductive, but we used the stages of grief to map out the arc of the season, and we knew that we wanted to take it to a place of acceptance. It is acceptance in two ways, it’s ultimately Wanda’s acceptance of the mantle of the Scarlet Witch, and then secondly and perhaps more importantly it is acceptance of her grief and of the fact that she has to let Vision and the boys go. So, you know, things changed along the way and there were discoveries and enhancements and all the sort of ins and outs of the finale specifically was kind of ever-shifting, but the actual goodbye scene was written fairly early on and we were all united behind it.
Tell us about setting up Wanda’s whole notion of grief.
JS: Her history in the comics is, her story in the comics is one of loss. That is something that in the comics and in the MCU has often defined her and defined her characterization. She’s been a more serious character and a character who at times seems locked into her own sadness and mourning, and so that is obviously where we wanted to start and what we wanted to build around. We saw an opportunity with the overlay of the sitcom to get to see Wanda and Lizzie trying on all these different colors, you know, seeing her be joyful and mischievous and flirty and all these different things. We could dig into all the different sides of this woman, but in the comics and in the MCU this woman has endured more loss than perhaps anyone, and that was the thing that we wanted to explore and work through with her.
When you first pitched yourself for the job, how did you prepare for the meeting? Did you read House of M? Did you have this notion of mapping out the stages of grief? What did Marvel spark to and what was your angle?
JS: They sent me a bunch of the comics and I looked over them. I’m not a very good comic reader. I have a hard time digesting the storylines and I never know which cell to look at, and I don’t know, I’m a disappointment, perhaps, to the fandom in that way, but the imagery is always, of course, very startling and moving and inspiring, and it was Kevin Feige’s idea to marry Wanda and Vision to the sitcom world. So, I had those pieces to begin with, and then it was also their desire to explore her grief and that whatever happened in this series, this sitcom situation, was some sort of manifestation of her grief and her desire to live in this fantasy world.
What I brought was a structure for that. You know, having seen it in the comics, I thought that it would probably be fairly predictable if we told a linear story of, you know, Wanda is upset and she freaks out and she creates this false world and then it’s a sitcom. That didn’t seem interesting to me. It didn’t seem like an interesting watch. It felt a little kind of by the numbers and harder to dig into emotionally. So, I did pitch this idea that we start in this sitcom, and that we are with Wanda with not knowing what’s going on and that we plant red herrings and wonder if there’s some nefarious force that’s doing this to her, and that we’re with her in the discovery that it is her, you know? We start in denial with her and then we move into anger. It was part of my pitch that she can’t kick the Monica character out of the Hex, and that we move on from there, and that in the penultimate episode it would be her full discovery of the stages of her life and really how this happened, that she has to face that in order to move forward, and that’s really…you know, it’s sort of the idea that she has to go to the arsenal in order to have the weapons in order to vanquish the bad guy in the end. Well, in this case, it’s grief. So, she needed to look everything in its face in order to be armed with what she needed to triumph and heal at the end of the story.
With the Hex lifted, what becomes of Agatha and Quicksilver? Do they disappear with it? All of the townspeople revert back to themselves. Can you tease anything?
JS: Well, as you can see in the episode, Wanda put Agnes/Agatha under a spell at the end. That makes her live out the character she created. So, as far as I know Agnes is hanging out baking some cookies in Westview, and then beyond that, I can only speak to my own series.
What about Quicksilver? Might we see him again? Everyone loved the meta thing that Marvel did here by casting the actor from the Fox/Marvel version for the part.
JS: What I can say is that I think Evan Peters did an incredible job with this role and I found it to be such a joy to both work with him and watch him on screen, and you know, as a fan, I’m interested to see whatever he does next.
He’s Ralph, Agnes’ husband, essentially.
JS: Yeah. The idea is that Agatha came to town and took over the neighbor’s house in order to sort of be undercover, and there happened to be a young man named Ralph Bohner who was already living in Westview. In the writers’ room, we enjoyed writing Agatha’s sense of humor, and so the idea that she would actually be talking about her hostage through the entirety of the series really tickled us.
Why didn’t Mephisto make an appearance? There was a lot of speculation that Mephisto was going to be the ultimate villain in the end of the series.
JS: We didn’t think this series needed a big bad. I mean, the big bad is grief, you know, and that’s the story that we were telling, and then we got a bonus baddie in the form of Agatha Harkness who ended up facilitating Wanda’s therapy, so yeah, I think we feel pretty good about that.
In the first end-credits sequence, Monica is told by the Skrull agent that ‘He’ is in need of seeing her, up in space. Many believe ‘He’ is Nick Fury. Care to comment?
JS: I am going to go no comment on that one because I have to go no comment. But I really appreciate how closely you’re watching and I appreciate all your theories.
How do the post-credit sequences work? Do you write those on the fly? Or are those written out well in advance?
JS: Yes. I mean, on all the Marvel projects that I’ve had the good fortune of working on, the tags are the thing that are constantly evolving because it’s the connecting tissue with the next project, it’s the handoff, and sometimes they’re shot way late in the game. In this particular instance with the Skrull tags, strangely that was, like, one of the first tags that I wrote, and then it went through a bunch of iterations, and then we returned to that essential idea. It’s just they evolve during the creative process.
Do all of the writers from the MCU Disney+ series and big screen features get into one big weekly Marvel writers’ room? I.E. the writers behind Captain Marvel 2 and Doctor Strange 2, and bat around ideas to connect storylines? Or is Kevin Feige or one of the other producers running from room to room of each project and suggesting tidbits from an overlapping project which should be included in another?
JS: I can only speak to my own experiences at Marvel, and you know, from where I’m sitting, it’s been more organic than that. I haven’t been in a big room with a bunch of different writers on other projects. I’ve sat down with some other teams just to put the brains together and make sure everyone is looking at whatever the issue is in the same way and that everybody has the information that they need. Usually it’s obviously Kevin who has the masterplan and communicates what needs to be communicated. I’ve enjoyed it because it sort of feels like a living organism. It’s not something that’s so prescriptive in that way. It kind of flows. It’s amazing.
But, really, why did Vision and the kids have to go?
JS: Agatha says it in the episode: When Wanda created the Hex, which was essentially her intuitively casting a spell, she did it wrong, and she tied Vision and the kids to this world. So, she put herself in a bind where she put people under mind control that actually made them suffer which she, Wanda, was unable or unwilling to see. That’s what she was doing, and she tied the kids to this world. Not to take it too deep with the metaphor, but we often sort of thought of it as the Hex is this giant placenta and she did all this creating inside of it, and the kids and Vision can’t survive outside of it.
But here she is, a woman going through grief, who creates this world and family to deal with it, and then she has to give it up? Why? For the greater good of humanity and the evolution of herself?
JS: Yes. For both of those things, because it’s wrong to imprison all of these people. You know, Agatha offers her that deal at the end. She says, I can fix the spell and I can remove suffering from all people, but we all know that if you remove our suffering, we’re no longer human, and that’s the journey that she has to go on. She has to embrace her own grief and suffering and see it for what it is, that it’s not all sorrow, that inside of grief is also a celebration of the thing that is now gone.
Where is she in the wilderness? It’s certainly not Thanos’ cabin in Avengers: Endgame because he was in a tropical region.
JS: We, the audience, do not know where Wanda is in the tag.
Given how this is a female driven series, what percent of your writers’ room was comprised of female writers?
JS: The actual writers are half women and half men, but with Mary Livanos and me and my assistant, the room itself was majority women.
With Wanda expected to star in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, why didn’t Doctor Strange himself make an appearance in the finale?
JS: I heart Doctor Strange just like anybody. Yeah, it’s one of those things, that’s how the chips fell, that’s how the cookie crumbled, is what I will say, but I look forward to seeing him on screen with Wanda in Doctor Strange 2.
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