Marvel’s Disney+ series, WandaVision is ready for its launch. In a recent interview, actress Teyonah Parris explained her excitement to play Monica Rambeau.
WandaVision centers on Elizabeth Olsen’s reality-altering witch, Wanda Maximoff, and Paul Bettany’s charming android, Vision, a married couple living in a trippy sitcom-inspired world of domestic bliss in the idyllic town of Westview. WandaVision will be unlike anything else the franchise has produced to this date. The show is said to be half classic TV sitcom and half epic MCU action.
Kevin Feige tapped Jac Schaeffer (Black Widow) to serve as head writer, Matt Shakman (Game of Thrones and Fargo) as director, and Mary Livanos as co-executive producer. Together, they strived to nail down the six-episode mini-series’ irreverent tone.
Monica Rambeau: A New Face of the MCU
Along with the title characters, the show introduces a new hero, Monica Rambeau played by Teyonah Parris. Teyonah Parris plays the grown-up version of Monica Rambeau, a character who previously debuted in Captain Marvel as a young girl. Monica Rambeau is a familiar name to comic fans, as the character has a long history in the comics.
MCU fans first met the Louisiana-born Monica Rambeau as a young child in ’90s-set Captain Marvel, as the daughter of Carol Danvers’ best friend and Air Force ally Maria (played by Lashana Lynch). The young Monica (Akira Akbar) is fast friends with her aunt Carol Danvers (Brie Larson). But in the current MCU timeline, ‘Lieutenant Trouble’ is all grown up. “[She has] a toughness and an ability to be a woman in a man’s space,” Schaeffer said. “Teyonah really brought that.”
Marvel had always planned to reintroduce an adult version of Monica after her debut in Captain Marvel. Monica plays a key role in the peculiar, sitcom-inspired world of WandaVision. The show’s creators are tight-lipped regarding how adult Monica fits into the reality-bending show. Mary Livanos points out that pairing her with Wanda and Vision makes sense: In the comics, Wanda, Vision, and Monica frequently fought side-by-side as members of the Avengers.
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In Marvel comics, Monica Rambeau was the first female African-American Avenger. She was created by Roger Stern and John Romita Jr. in the 1980s, Monica was introduced in the comics as a New Orleans native who gained superpowers after exposure to an intense energy blast. She soon signed up with the Avengers and eventually became the team’s leader at one point.
In comics, she’s gone by different heroic names, including Photon, Pulsar, Spectrum, and also Captain Marvel. In fact, she is the first woman to use the moniker of Captain Marvel, predating Carol Danvers. And she’s extraordinarily powerful, with the ability to fly, travel at the speed of light, and even transform herself into pure energy.
“I feel so special and honored to be able to walk in her shoes and bring her story to life,” Parris said to the outlet. “I hope that me playing this character (a) gives a group of people who are underrepresented a chance to see themselves, and (b) seeing my face and my Black body helps them engage with Black women and our humanity.”
In the first WandaVision trailer, we get a glimpse of her zooming through the air, and crashing through some kind of energy barrier, and landing on the ground, surrounded by what looks like military agents. “One of the fun mysteries is how the heck would she become involved in this odd sitcom that Wanda and Vision find themselves in,” teases Livanos. “That’s a mystery the show unravels along the way.”
Livanos added “Looking back to Monica Rambeau’s comic book history, she’s a leader among heroes. She’s the type of hero that can always talk with other heroes. She’s a huge asset.”
Teyonah Parris shared her first reaction when she got the part. Parris said when she first auditioned for the role, she only knew that it was for some sort of Marvel project. “When I found out I actually got it, I tried to jump off a set of stairs because in my body, I was like, ‘I can fly! I can freaking fly!’. My family had to calm me down.”
Parris is best known for her roles in Mad Men, Dear White People, and Chi-Raq. She also stars in the upcoming Candyman movie. Parris says she had to adjust to the size and scale of working on the Disney+ series.
“What I’m finding challenging is doing things that I’m uncomfortable with and I’ve never had experience with [while] still trying to tell the story at hand,” explains the 33-year-old Parris. “[I have] to look like I know what I’m doing, even though I’m 20 feet hanging in the air, and I’m sweating, and my hair is doing this and that, and I smudged my eyebrow off, and I still have to connect with the actor who’s on the ground waiting on me.”
But finally, she said that she’s excited to introduce audiences to this new version of a decades-old character and give Monica Rambeau her time in the spotlight. Parris said “I do feel empowered and that I have a voice in this character and who she is and what we’re creating. I do think that they trust some of my own instincts and they’re valuing what I’m bringing to the character. I’m really appreciative of that.”
WandaVision is set to be released on January 15 on Disney+. How excited are you for the WandaVision series? What are you most looking forward to in WandaVision? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below on our social media and be sure to come back to The Illuminerdi for more Marvel news.
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Sources: Entertainment Weekly