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‘WandaVision’ lands Marvel its first major Emmy nominations

Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany swing on a swing set in a yard in a scene from "WandaVision."
Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany are in the swing of things in a scene from the Emmy-nominated “WandaVision.”
(Marvel Studios)

“WandaVision” has proved magical for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, earning the mega-franchise 23 total Emmy nominations Tuesday, leading the limited-series field. Among them: nods for best limited series, leads Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany, supporting actress Kathryn Hahn and that irresistible earworm “Agatha All Along.”

“WandaVision” joined “Watchmen” and drama series “The Boys” as the only superhero shows to date to earn series nominations, a feat made even more impressive by this year’s stacked competition in the limited-series category. “WandaVision” stands beside acclaimed contenders “I May Destroy You,” “Mare of Easttown,” “The Queen’s Gambit” and “The Underground Railroad.” It beat out such lauded shows as “The Comey Rule,” “The Good Lord Bird” and “The Undoing.”

Olsen earned the nomination for her role as Wanda Maximoff, the Avenger who finally takes on her comics moniker “Scarlet Witch” in the show. Bettany plays her is-he-or-isn’t-he-dead synthezoid husband, Vision, and Hahn is their sitcom-land neighbor Agnes with secrets of her own. All three actors were tasked with playing multiple versions of their characters as the series cinematically changed channels with each episode through a tour of classic TV sitcoms but ultimately was an exploration of grief and trauma.

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Marvel’s other Disney+ series eligible for this year’s Emmys, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” scored five nominations, including for guest actor Don Cheadle as MCU hero James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine.

“WandaVision” had been the pandemic equivalent of a “water-cooler show,” becoming a social media sensation. It spawned memes inspired by dialogue asking “What is grief, if not love persevering?” and explaining the thought experiment of “The Ship of Theseus.”

Its clever conceit of designing each episode to mirror a popular sitcom from different decades (“The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Bewitched” and “The Brady Bunch” among them) captured viewers’ imaginations, as did the show’s moving depiction of a woman in mourning.

In Marvel’s “WandaVision,” nothing is as it seems. So we prepared an episode-by-episode guide to the Disney+ series for you to keep handy as you watch.

“The grief journey was the tethering force,” showrunner Jac Schaeffer told The Times in May. “I aligned each episode to the stages of grief, so the story is told nonlinearly but the grief story is linear. We start in [Wanda’s] denial and move all the way to acceptance.”

“We were using the superhero space to explore mental health, conflict resolution, self-acceptance. So many superhero stories right now deal with things like PTSD [post traumatic stress disorder] and crisis of identity. The terrain of our current mythology has to do with emotion and psychology. Something that Marvel is doing well is an examination of all the different motivations in a given conflict as opposed to good versus bad. We all, as consumers, have grown up a bit and know the world is far messier than that.”

“The Crown” and “The Mandalorian” dominate the 2021 Emmy nominations. Here are the honorees in the major categories.


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