- Insider spoke with Mark Worthington, the production designer on “WandaVision.”
- He worked on creating the show’s look since summer 2019.
- Marvel considers every detail you see on screen. We’ll learn more about the use of the colour red.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Not only does the show dive into what happened after everyone returned at the end of “Avengers: Endgame,” but it also revisits fictional versions of other decades as Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) tries to live out her own happily ever after with Vision (Paul Bettany) in New Jersey.
Insider spoke with Mark Worthington, the show’s production designer, on Wednesday about joining the show, how he gets a kick out of fans meticulously scrutinizing every detail, and why they didn’t hone in on any one particular sitcom for each era.
And don’t worry â€” as far as Worthington’s concerned, you’re not over-analysing any details on the show. It only adds to the viewing experience.
Worthington joined the show in the summer of 2019 to start research
Kirsten Acuna: Aside from the costume designer, you probably had one of the most challenging jobs on “WandaVision.” Not only did you have the responsibility of designing a set and look for one era but you had to do it for the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, and more along with designing the Avengers world after the Blip.
How much research went into creating the look and feel of the show and what was your reaction when you learned you were going to be taking us through multiple decades?
Mark Worthington: We did a mountain of research. You have to for a project like this. We didn’t want to land on a sitcom for an era and say, “We’re going to copy that.” So we had to look at all sitcoms from an era. You internalize that and find your own version of the ’50s sitcoms, the ’60s sitcoms, and so on.
[Director] Matt Shakman called me back in May 2019 and said, “Hey, I’ve got this Marvel project” and I assumed one thing about it. It’s Marvel. It will be a certain thing. Then he described the story and I was like, “That’s crazy and amazing.” That’s an amazing challenge to do all of these eras of sitcom, which we see. And then, yeah, you obviously have to manifest a whole S.W.O.R.D. world of the MCU. But that’s the joy of it, isn’t it? All those contrasts and those different ideas. It was challenging, but it was great.
Did you just spend a week or two watching old sitcoms and reading old comics with a notebook, jotting down items you wanted to see on “WandaVision”?
Yeah. I spent about a week with Matt in late June of 2019, just in his office. We spent a week just going through all the scripts that had been written to that point. A lot of it was written and we had outlines for some of it. [We] just were going through and spitballing ideas and talking about environments and the whole storyline.
It was amazing. It’s rare that you get to spend that much time just doing that with a director and that really informed the project as an outline because that allowed us to develop details in really specific ways.
didn’t copy one sitcom per era because they didn’t want it to be too distracting
Some of the sitcoms referenced, like “Bewitched” and “The Brady Bunch,” all aired on ABC, which is also owned by Disney. When designing the look and feel of these sets, were you given full access to some of the real props from previous shows? I have to imagine Disney still has parts of some of these iconic sets or at least props.
Not really. We have access to all that. You can go rent it, right? Studios used to have full on plaster shops and prop shops and everything construction. Every studio had that. Now, that’s gutted, sadly. Some of that stuff now exists in private prop shops that are not associated with the studios.
We weren’t consciously saying we’re going to reference every ABC sitcom. We wanted you to be able to say, “I’m comfortable that this is an ’80s sitcom. I know what that is. I’ve seen this. I get it.” But it isn’t any one particular sitcom because if we did that, it’d be distracting because you’d be obsessed with: “How does this line up with whichever sitcom we’ve copied?” That doesn’t make sense. So we made a very conscious choice not to do that.
Viewers may find Easter eggs that Worthington said they ‘had no intention of putting in’ the show
Marvel fans are scrutinizing every scene, pausing to see if there’s meaning in the background of certain shots. I’ve seen people theorizing about artwork and the wallpaper. Are people right to be looking so in-depth or are we scrutinizing so much that we’re just looking for things that aren’t there?
There are definitely Easter eggs. I’m not going to tell you what they are, because that’s no fun and people need to discover them on their own. [You can check out our favourites here.]
People are going to find the things. They may find things that we had no intention of putting in there, but it’s valid to say, this seems to be in correspondence with the MCU or a sitcom, or whatever it is. I think that’s all part of the fun and that builds the mythology of the show. That interplay between what fans find in a show and what was intended is a fascinating one. All of that is valid and all of that, to me, just adds to the value of the show and the fun of it.
Do you get a kick out of it? Do you go on social media after an episode to see what fans are honing in on?
A little bit. Ever since “Star Trek” [Discovery, which Worthington worked on] â€” those fans are insane â€” there’s so much back and forth, and there can be some haters in that world. MCU, not so much. It’s better. But, there’s so much criticism. You design a ship a certain way, and they’re like, “No, they would never do that kind of thing.” So, I tend to stay away from that a little bit just because you can go down a rabbit hole with that stuff.
I think that is such a â€” especially with the MCU â€” it’s such a positive thing and there’s so much great energy with the fanbase.
If I go back and watch episode two or three after the season is over, am I going to pick up on some clues or hints that weren’t obvious upon a first watch?
I hope those are there. We’ll see if people pick up on it.
I’m not going to say what they are. They may go back and find things that we didn’t intend. Again, that’s the fun of it. But, yeah, there are Easter eggs in this show and there’s stuff that people will discover as they go along. Some people will pick it up right away. Other people, may have to go look at an episode in the future and then come back and go, “I hadn’t noticed that and now I see these connections.” We hope so, because that’s the fun of the show.
We’ll learn more about why red has been used in specific places for specific reasons
Is there anything you can tell me about the significance of the colour red? Sometimes, it bleeds over into the fictional black-and-white sitcom and after Wanda confronts S.W.O.R.D. There’s even an added red sheen around some of the characters during certain scenes, including Vision and Evan Peters. Were you asked to inject more red onto the show and into the designs as the series continues?
It’s used sparingly and specifically in places, as you’ve already seen. We all know that red is associated with Wanda’s character from the MCU. How it interplays going forward, I can’t really talk about. You’ll find that out.
The main thing is we know that’s a colour that’s associated with her. It’s used in very specific places for specific reasons, which, aspects of that will come to fruition in the future. We’ll see what all that means.
Everything you see in each episode is there on purpose
Is there anything that you can tell me about that the use of the hexagons throughout the show, all of these giraffes, and the fake newspapers? There’s so much incredible effort put into everything.
We think about every detail. Props are full screen. People say, “Oh, it probably doesn’t matter.” No, it matters, because this coffee cup might be full screen. These are all conscious choices. Again, I can’t get into the specifics of how they pay off and what they mean because the audience deserves to discover those things as they come along in the story.
Looking back, as part of the joy of doing the show, I wouldn’t ever want to step on that because I get irritated when that happens to me, and someone can say, “This spoiler ruins it.” There’s a reason they’re called spoilers.
We think very carefully about all of those elements before. They’re not random choices. Let’s put it that way.
“WandaVision” is currently streaming on Disney Plus.