Synopsis: “What If…?” flips the script on the MCU, reimagining famous events from the films in unexpected ways. Marvel Studios’ first animated series focuses on different heroes from the MCU, featuring a voice cast that includes a host of stars who reprise their roles—directed by Bryan Andrews with AC Bradley as head writer, “What If…?” launches exclusively on Disney+ on August 11th, 2021.
Growing up, I was a fan of the What If…? comics when they were released back in the 90s. What If…the Punisher Killed Daredevil was the first comic of that series I bought with my own money. Other times, I begged my parents for a few bucks in order to get my What If…? fix. So you can imagine the excitement I felt when I was invited to the Marvel What If…? press conference. The presser (short for press conference) featured Director Bryan Andrews, Showrunner A.C.Bradley, Executive Producer Brad WinderBaum, and Jeffrey Wright (the voice of The Watcher). They discussed the anthology’s tie-in with the MCU, The Watcher, and Chadwick Boseman.
What If..? in the MCU
When asked about the future of the What If..? series in the MCU, nothing was confirmed, but AC Bradley said that there’s a reason the show airs after Loki. If you haven’t seen Loki, it is focused on time travel and variants considered to be timeline outlaws. “The series is just as important as any story in the MCU. It’s woven into that same tapestry”, added Winderbaum. MCU fans, like myself, are already speculating if some of the characters or stories in the series will show up in the MCU. For example, the Marvel zombies, Shuma-Gorath, Star-Lord, T’Challa, etc. It’s also been mentioned that there is a season two of What If…? in development, and Captain Carter is a character whom the writers look to revisit.
“The Watcher deals with the temptation to involve himself in these alternate universes but at the same time living vicariously through these characters/stories and taking it all in.” – Jeffrey Wright on The Watcher
Jeffrey Wright discussed his excitement to be on the project and talked about how The Watcher is a surveyor of the alternate timeline. He said he made the development of The Watcher as personal as possible. “The Watcher is described as the most dramatic being in all the known [Marvel] universe. He’s a fairly dramatic guy, fairly powerful guy that overseas the multiverses,” Wright explained. “The Watcher is a Rod Sterling character…in some ways narrating, in some ways, not the biggest Marvel fan there is,” Wright added. Wright stated he wants the audience to feel like they’re watching the stories unfold just as if The Watcher is in real-time. Will The Watcher be in the MCU? Bradley and Wright left the answer open but did mention there is a chance.
Chadwick Boseman Remembered
Bryan Andrews talked about how Chadwick Boseman was one of the first to sign onto the project and was happy to portray this more humorous version of T’Challa. Bradley added when developing the episode featuring T’Challa, they were inspired by a Marvel poster where the Black Panther and Star-Lord were positioned side-by-side. They realized the two characters were close in age, and this information sparked the idea of T’challa being abducted instead of Star-Lord. Winderbaum, Andrews, and Bradley talked about the pressure they felt to perfect episode 2 because it was the last performance by Boseman. Bradley said they wanted to honor not only T’Challa but Boseman as well.
Wright talked about the first time he met Boseman. It was in a bathroom at Comic-Con. He said Boseman was introducing Black Panther and he himself was at the event advertising West World. Wright talked about how great of an actor and overall person Chadwick was. He also mentioned he was supposed to star in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom with Boseman but his schedule wouldn’t allow it.
My First Reactions
I will say the episodes are exciting, engaging, and well-executed. Episode 2 was the best of the three episodes I got to see. Not only because it featured Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa, but because of how the story and characters were developed. Showrunner AC Bradley talked about how even though T’Challa was not the king of Wakanda in this timeline, he still influenced the environment around him, and the writers were intentional about it. Like the other episodes, the alternate versions of Marvel characters in this episode were shocking. Marvel’s What If…? gets two thumbs up and an “I am Groot!” from me! This series will go over well with fans of the comics and MCU in general. Be sure to catch the series premiere on August 11th on Disney+.