Elizabeth Olsen: My Marvel contract ‘took me away’ from certain jobs I wanted

Marvel isn’t Fight Club. The first rule of Marvel is not “don’t talk about Marvel.” The first rule of Marvel is “you will be happy with your Marvel contract or else.” Actors who publicly complain about their contracts… well, they’re not exactly punished, but they’re not NOT punished. Which brings me to Elizabeth Olsen, the indie darling turned Marvel heroine/villainess. Olsen came in for Age of Ultron, did Captain America: Civil War, then completed her original three-film contract with Infinity War. Then Marvel brought her back in and made an interesting proposal: WandaVision, then Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and possibly even more. She signed up for that, meaning she chose to sign a second contract with Marvel. I bring this up because Olsen comes dangerously close to bad-mouthing Marvel in her NY Times interview.

On the early success of Multiverse of Madness: “I’m totally mortified! I won’t watch it. This is pressure I’m feeling for the first time. I have a lot of anxiety with ‘Doctor Strange’ coming out because I’ve never really had to lead a commercial film by myself.”

How she feels after six projects with Marvel: “It took me away from the physical ability to do certain jobs that I thought were more aligned with the things I enjoyed as an audience member. And this is me being the most honest.”

She was frustrated after her first two Marvel experiences: “I started to feel frustrated. I had this job security but I was losing these pieces that I felt were more part of my being. And the further I got away from that, the less I became considered for it.”

Her Sundance breakthrough in 2011: “It really felt like everyone was speaking through both sides of their mouth. I was like, ‘This is a bubble.’ It felt like I was literally in a snow globe.”

Coming back after Infinity War: “The power to choose to continue was important to me.”

She loved WandaVision: “We thought what we were doing was so weird and didn’t know if we had an audience for it, so there was a freedom to it. There was no pressure, no fear. It was a really healthy experience.”

Whether she’s ready for a solo Scarlet Witch film: “I think I would. But it really needs to be a good story. I think these films are best when it’s not about creating content, but about having a very strong point of view — not because you need to have a three-picture plan.”

[From The NY Times]

“It took me away from the physical ability to do certain jobs that I thought were more aligned with the things I enjoyed as an audience member.” Out-of-context, it sounds like Olsen is complaining about how she feels artistically stifled by the time-consuming demands of her Marvel projects. In the context of the interview, I wouldn’t say she’s exactly blaming Marvel. She’s being honest about the choices she made – she chose to do these time-consuming, huge, commercial projects and that choice meant that she didn’t have time to do the projects with which she felt more aligned. The Times even names one of them – she was originally supposed to be in Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster but had to pull out because of filming (Rachel Weisz was cast in her place). I’m already seeing headlines about “how dare Olsen say this or that” but… I don’t think she meant it as some kind of huge diss to Marvel, just my opinion. She has agency. She understands what she signed up for. She still likes to complain about it a little.

Photos courtesy of Instar.

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16 Responses to “Elizabeth Olsen: My Marvel contract ‘took me away’ from certain jobs I wanted”

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  1. Lolaispretty says:

    One of the few actresses I really like. Wandavision was so much fun and so layered. It blew the other post Endgame shows out of the water..even Loki’s.

    • FHMom says:

      Wandavision was kind of brilliant. Groundbreaking. Of course, she is proud of that.

    • Bread and Circuses says:

      I love Loki the character, and I was so disappointed in the show. It was wonderfully acted and wonderfully produced, but it had weak writing.

      I didn’t care a bit about the Scarlet Witch, but WandaVision was simply great. Ms. Olsen is not wrong that it’s important to have a good story to tell.

  2. Colby says:

    It sounds like she’s just laying out the pros and cons, none of which I expect come as a surprise to anyone. She gets big checks and job security, but she gives up other opportunities.

    Frankly I would do what she’s doing as well. Get that big money now then worry about taking time to get back into more artistically rewarding projects later once the money isn’t an issue.

  3. Izzy says:

    Eh. She’s making a point about how all-consuming the work is but she still shows up and does the promotionals, red carpets, interviews, etc. No shade for that.

  4. Kari says:

    Marvel really knew how to convince her to come back. She stated in early interviews that House of M was her favorite storyline so it’s no wonder that WandaVision was enticing enough to sign a second contract.

    That being said, she’s not wrong. It doesn’t seem so much like complaining, but rather just admitting that there is a compromise when you choose to take on these larger Marvel roles. Covid has kept me from seeing the new Dr. Strange film but as soon as I am safely able to see it I’ll check it out. I’ve heard she’s really good in it.

  5. Lightpurple says:

    Between Letitia Wright and Evangeline Lilly, Elizabeth Olsen commenting on having to give up other projects is the least of Kevin Feige’s worries. And she’s not the first or even the third Marvel cast member to talk about having to pass up other more interesting projects while they’re still grateful for the job security Marvel gives them. RDJ, Evans, Renner have all talked about it and Evans got his part in Snowpiercer because Tom Hiddleston had to drop out to film Thor: Dark World.

  6. Ameerah says:

    I think she was being honest. There was no bad-mouthing of Marvel. When we make choices that means we close the door to certain other opportunities. That’s just life. Especially with something like Marvel that is a huge machine and that can be very time-consuming. And she was being honest about that. She also has said in multiple interviews how much she loves playing Wanda and would like to continue playing her.

  7. HeyKay says:

    IMO, make the good guaranteed money while you can. 😀

  8. FHMom says:

    See, these big stars are making sacrifices. They are giving up creativity and quality for box office. That is what she is saying. She is being honest. I am not offended, but I bet Disney will be. These Marvel actors love their big paychecks until they don’t.

  9. Jay says:

    I feel like she was trying to contrast her early Marvel films with what her projects are now, with the emphasis on “choosing to continue” and the artistic choices she is making now that she couldn’t then, like with Wandavision.

    We have certainly heard similar observations from others in the MCU about the filming commitments.

  10. Concern Fae says:

    You can both own your agency in making a decision and recognize that there was some pain when the consequences of your choices come due.

    She strikes me as very grounded and one of the best actors in the MCU. I wish they had shown more of what happened in the gap between Wandavision and DS2. Also, can we agree that Marvel needs to be banned from any mention of female superhero’s fertility for at least a decade?

    • Dutch says:

      There’s still a great possibility that her investment in being part of the MCU will pay off in the long run because she’s certainly stepped out of her sisters’ shadows, developed a bankable fan base and has enough clout to be cast in films she might not have been considered without the MCU or be able to get a passion project financed.

      And as aside, I have trouble understanding how people are struggling with connecting the dots on Wanda’s heel turn. When last we saw Wanda, she had done nothing to atone for the torture she put the people of Westview through, was still obsessing about her imaginary children and studying the universe’s book of pure evil, presumably the whole year-plus between the end of WV and MoM.

  11. The Hench says:

    Yeah, I’ve read all the other comments on this thread so far and you are all being far more understanding and kind than my initial reaction was. My reaction was C”MON!!!! Nobody put a gun to your head, love. Nobody forced you to sign not one but several contracts with MCU – that, btw, came with some groundbreaking artistic work in the case of Wandavision and shedloads of cash. Miss me with your “losing pieces of yourself”

    I’d be annoyed if I was Marvel. Hell, I’M irritated and I’m just a random nobody commenting. You chose to do this, Lizzie. Take the money, do the job to the best of your ability and if you really feel you’re losing bits of yourself then take the wodges of cash that the MCU has paid you and use them to do whatever the hell you like for the rest of your career.

  12. AppleCart says:

    It took me a few episodes. But I loved Wandavision.

    And I see her point of view she was an indy darling with Martha Marcy May Marlene. Then she is shot out of a cannon with the Marvel world which brings a whole new level of fame and money. But lacking in artistic integrity she yearned for.

    She’s an actor that just wants to do good work. I respect her for it.

  13. NJ says:

    This is why Marvel don’t do those big contracts anymore. They want the talent involved and happy, not obligated.