Marvel’s What If…? Review: A Footnote in the MCU Encyclopaedia


What if Steve Rogers’ love curiosity Peggy Carter took the Super Soldier serum? What if the Wakandan prince T’Challa ended up turning into Star-Lord? What if Nick Fury’s massive week was even busier and extra chaotic? What if all of the Avengers, from Iron man to Spider-Man, had been zombies? These are the sort of hypothetical questions requested by Marvel’s What If…? — premiering Wednesday on Disney+ and Disney+ Hotstar — a brand new animated anthology collection with half-hour lengthy episodes that at occasions seems like the least consequential Marvel Studios undertaking ever. Some of that’s as a result of we’re being handled to one-off adventures (in many instances), and a few owing to the proven fact that What If…? will not have any impact on the remainder of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Hardcore followers will wish to know this: the new Marvel collection is non-canonical. While each movie and TV present we have seen beforehand — from Avengers: Endgame to WandaVision — occurred in the similar universe, What If…?’s occasions do not. Instead, they’re occurring in parallel universes. This flows naturally out of the most up-to-date Marvel collection, Loki. Spoiler alert if you have not completed watching all six episodes of its first season. Loki ended with the Sacred Timeline cut up into an infinite variety of branches, giving rise to a multiverse of potentialities. Pre-Loki, these “what if?” situations would’ve been clipped by the Time Variance Authority, as a result of they “weren’t supposed to happen.” Now they’ll roam wild. Captain Carter? Or a benevolent Star-Lord? Why not.

Though What If…? can not change the MCU, it advantages from it. After all, over 4 dozen Marvel stars return to reprise their roles in voice type, together with Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Mark Ruffalo (Hulk), and the late Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther). Not everyone seems to be again although, together with a few of the largest ones in Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Chris Evans (Captain America), and Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow).This might need been resulting from COVID-induced scheduling causes or simply an excessive amount of cash for Disney to throw at an animated collection. But it is truthfully not that a lot of an issue, precisely as a result of it is an animated collection — you are not taking a look at the similar face with a special voice.

From What If…? to F9 , What to Watch in August

Marvel’s What If…? trades closely on what we already learn about their characters, making quips about their MCU fates (“You almost ripped my arm off,” Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes says in one episode) or upending the dynamics we have beforehand witnessed (think about a brand new spin on the villains from Avengers: Infinity War, or a much bigger function for a minor Guardians of the Galaxy character). Elsewhere, What If…? indulges in mirror storytelling and function reversals, a bit like how Star Trek’s Mirror Universe operates. What if the good guys had been the dangerous guys? And what if the dangerous guys turned good? There are just a few attention-grabbing setups on What If…?, some a lot in order that I want them to the canonical model. If solely Hollywood was much less sexist in basic and extra open to switching it up when the MCU started.

And that is additionally tied to why a few of What If…? feels disingenuous and like checking a field. Evans spent a decade taking part in Steve Rogers/ Captain America in the MCU — that concerned a standalone trilogy and 4 Avengers films. What If…? offers Peggy (Hayley Atwell) half an hour to be Captain Carter. The new Marvel collection’ makers say there can be extra adventures for Captain Carter in future seasons, however that is merely not sufficient. Watching the Peggy What If…? episode was like watching a condensed and chopped-off model of Captain America: The First Avenger — however now animated and with Atwell in the lead. Honestly, one other season of Agent Carter would have been extra enjoyable, and that is why What If…? wanted to spend extra time with these alternate variations.

Maybe that is nonetheless on the playing cards. Critics have solely seen three of What If…? season 1’s 9 episodes — it is why this also needs to be a thought of a assessment of simply these three episodes — and all three are disjointed and chronicle myriad tales. One of them options Boseman’s T’Challa, who is alleged to be again in three extra episodes, although it is unknown in what capability. While reserving my judgment in that regard, I do imagine What If…? would’ve been higher off if it centered its energies on a few characters yearly. That mentioned, not each story wants that sort of expansive remedy, as the third story exhibits. And for Disney+ and Marvel, the contained anthology strategy means it will possibly enchantment to a much wider base of Marvel followers. Essentially, there’s one thing for everybody.

The Empire, Cruella, What If…?, and More on Disney+ Hotstar in August

what if chadwick boseman what if marvel

Benicio del Toro as The Collector, Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/ Star-Lord in What If…?
Photo Credit: Disney/Marvel Studios

For now, the solely aspect tying collectively these disparate What If…? tales is the Disney+ collection’ narrator The Watcher (voiced by Jeffrey Wright, from Westworld) who does simply that: observe. As The Watcher says at the begin of each What If…? episode, he doesn’t, can not and won’t intervene. MCU followers have beforehand met a bunch of Watchers in one in every of the many post-credit scenes from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 that featured a Stan Lee cameo. Marvel’s What If…? can also be sure collectively by these behind the scenes. Emmy winner and Marvel’s go-to storyboard artist Bryan Andrews (Samurai Jack) is the director on What If…? episodes, with A.C. Bradley (Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia) as the creator and head author — she’s additionally a consulting producer on the upcoming Ms. Marvel collection.

The MCU has at all times been like an enormous TV present. For the first decade following its inception, we used to get 2-3 hour “episodes” on the massive display. And beginning this yr, we watched six-hour adventures damaged into precise episodes. What If…? is neither. In what’s a crude analogy, it is a TikTok video model of a Marvel movie. In different methods, it is Marvel Studios’ very first TV present in that its tales are contained to half-hour or so. It’s additionally its first animated collection — the studio did oversee Marvel’s M.O.D.O.Okay. after Marvel Television was folded, for what it is price — that enables it to function on a special canvas than its commonplace live-action route. The first three episodes do not push the envelope although. As but, What If…? seems like a footnote in the MCU encyclopaedia.

Marvel’s What If…? begins Wednesday, August 11 on Disney+ and Disney+ Hotstar. New episodes will air each Wednesday till October 6. In India, What If…? is obtainable solely in English.


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