Much of Marvel Studios’ films and characters over the past decade have been elevated to deity status in our pop culture. So “what if” that were not the case, and where our love for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) wouldn’t be bound by how we know it today?
That’s pretty much the premise of the new episodic series appropriately named “What If…?” As the show has been described, it’s an opportunity for fans to see what the MCU would look like if Steve Rogers didn’t become Cap, or even if Thanos was a good guy.
It sounds perfectly fit for the Marvel comic book genre in essence, but it also is threaded through the current “multiverse” situation the MCU is presently in.
“The last thing we thought of when creating these episodes was the “what if” party ironically,” said head writer for the series A.C. Bradley in a virtual press conference. “Instead, we all looked at what heart was behind the [Marvel] hero.”
It’s those untold aspects of those stories that provide the perfect jumping off point for stories that may seem foreign, but are grounded in reasons why we love the MCU, including the characters.
One new character that we haven’t met is the narrator and guide through this multiverse – The Watcher. Introduced in the Marvel comics back in the 1960s, The Watcher, voiced by actor Jeffrey Wright, acts as the sovereign, who in the narrative of the series, controls these different universes that we’ll get to travel to in each episode.
“In some ways, he’s probably the biggest Marvel fan there is,” said Wright. “At the same time, he’s living vicariously through these characters and stories. He’s pretty much us fans, too.”
Marvel fans will also get to experience the other creative freedoms now afforded in the form of animation, since each episode needed to revisit Marvel movies’ past and present. “It would really be expensive and maybe near impossible for us to build the sets and make beloved characters new,” said director Brian Andrews. He continued, “With our animated world, we’re able to do whatever with whoever. It also allows us to suspend our belief since we’re tied to the live-action worlds so much.”
At the same time, the live-action movies and beloved MCU timeline inspires much of what will come after the 10-episode Season 1 series ends.
With the ending of “Loki” taking the MCU officially into the multiversal world, “What If…?” is essentially the perfect segue into the MCU’s next phase.
“Our series is an anthology, meaning you’ll never know what you’re going to get – like The Twilight Zone. Some will be funny, some might be more dramatic and serious,” said Andrews. “But our real world has changed and the fictional MCU has changed, which means new stories and opportunities that might influence future episodes and maybe films – who knows?” he concluded.
What we do know is that “What If…?” is a very entertaining series that shares irreverent yet lovable take on the very beloved and reverent Marvel Studios’ franchises. The toy box that it unlocks will be a source of great fun asking a simple question that may lead to amazing surprises.