How Leave It to Beaver and the Brady Bunch changed the Marvel Cinematic Universe

WandaVision was inspired by some of the greats!

It may seem unlikely, but the biggest film franchise in the modern era was altered forever by a chance viewing of some classic TV. And why not? The best art stands on the shoulders of giants, building on what came before it. The same can be said about media, which has even more opportunity to reference its influences. Some of our favorite movies and television shows couldn't exist without the inspiration drawn from earlier properties. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, as it turns out, is no different.

Now, obviously, that franchise has the unique opportunity to pull from decades of pre-existing material. The best comic book movies are rooted deeply in the mythology that plays out in comic books. But, did you know that the MCU's Chief Creative Officer, Kevin Feige, was inspired by some of our favorite classic shows? According to the 2023 book MCU by Joanna Robinson, Dave Gonzales and Gavin Edwards, Marvel looked to the past to pave its TV future.

Back in 2017, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was closing in on a decade of world-conquering dominance. As it readied the release of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: End Game, drawing to a close the 10-year-long Infinity Saga, the MCU was at a crucial juncture in its development. Marvel's parent company, Disney, was building a library of properties for its new streaming service. The burden fell to Kevin Feige to find new and interesting stories to play out episodically on Disney+. The results included WandaVision, a tale that borrowed its format from some familiar-looking television hits. 

"While we were in Atlanta shooting those two films together, there was a cable channel in the hotel where I was staying that every morning had Leave It to Beaver and My Three Sons. Rather than watching the news in the morning, I just had that on. I found great comfort in old sitcoms. I found it so soothing.

"The way those people had a problem and got to figure it out, man, you think 'everything will be okay today' as we head to whatever production issue we were having."

But Feige didn't stop there. As he watched more and more, he realized that these classic shows could solve a major issue facing the creative minds at Marvel. They needed to present huge, cinematic stories in a television format for this new streaming service. 

"I also started showing my kids The Brady Bunch. So I started to become fascinated with the idea of being able to play with that genre in a way that could both subvert what we do at Marvel and subvert what those shows were." 

When Feige learned that Disney would push Marvel into the TV realm, he thought, "I have an opportunity to not just have this stuff rattle around in my head. We could actually turn this into something."

Throughout its one-season run, WandaVision used and referenced shows like The Dick Van Dyke Show, I Love Lucy, My Three Sons, Father Knows Best, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Bewitched, The Brady Bunch, Family Ties, Malcolm in the Middle, Modern Family and The Office to tell a heartbreaking story of grief and recovery. The Marvel team overturned a lot of what we expect when we see shows shot like our favorites and imbued each with a sense of modern dread. 

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9 Comments

daDoctah 1 month ago
I thought the references to The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Brady Bunch were the most obvious, and wondered why they didn't go harder on Full House when the format reached the 1980s, given that Wanda is the younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley.
cperrynaples daDoctah 1 month ago
I thought the same thing and I was waiting for "You got it, dude"...LOL!
cperrynaples daDoctah 1 month ago
PS the actress is Elizabeth, Wanda doesn't have sisters!
daDoctah cperrynaples 1 month ago
Insert the words "played by" between "Wanda is" and "the younger sister" if you find it necessary.
cperrynaples daDoctah 1 month ago
Well words matter! I try to proofread every post I make!
Runeshaper 1 month ago
WandaVision was AMAZING! It is a MUST watch (in my book) if you enjoy shows of TV's past and/or if you are a Marvel fan.
bmoore4026 Runeshaper 26 days ago
Probably the best of the Marvel shows. And Katherine Hahn stealing the entire series as Agnes/Agatha Harkness. She was just brilliant.
Runeshaper bmoore4026 25 days ago
She really was excellent in that role!
cperrynaples 1 month ago
Lots of great stuff! Even if you HATE Marvel, you have to watch Wandavision if you love classic sitcoms! Keep in mind that the sitcom universe was induced by an evil rival of Wanda and it makes sense!
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