By Lauren D’Ambra
The name Marvel Studios invokes images of multi-billion-dollar blockbuster movies packed with amazing stories and spectacular action sequences, but as of early 2021, the superhero movie company has branched out into creating TV mini-series for Disney Plus. Their latest series, What If…? is a nine episode animated series that takes pivotal Marvel moments and changes them ever so slightly to completely alter the events that follow. From killing off Iron Man again, to making Doctor Strange watch the love of his life die repeatedly, to throwing zombies into the mix because why not, What If…? has kept fans guessing at every episode.
The animation in the show is absolutely beautiful. It is very similar in style to that of Sony’s Into the Spiderverse (which won numerous awards for its groundbreaking animation) but is definitely reminiscent of the Star Wars animated series Clone Wars and Rebels. The series has, so far, done an excellent job of creating beautifully animated versions of the live action heroes Marvel fans have come to adore. Speaking of which, the show also managed to get most of the MCU’s big cast back to voice their animated counterparts, including Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Sebastian Stan (Winter Soldier), Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter), and Tom Hiddelston (Loki). What If…? is also credited as the late Chadwick Boseman’s last performance. Boseman (Black Panther) passed away in 2020 due to complications with cancer. Marvel fans new and old have enjoyed one last epic adventure with the different multiverse versions of T’Challa and the series seems to be a good way to send off the king of Wakanda.
As mentioned before, the whole plot of What If…? revolves around taking important moments in the MCU’s history and changing them ever so slightly to create an entirely new story. For example, the first episode explored what would have happened if Peggy Carter had received the super soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers. In Captain America: The First Avenger, Rogers receives the serum and is the only person to do so after a deep cover Hydra agent sets off a bomb and steals the rest of the serum. In the What If…? version, the Hydra agent sets off the bomb early and injures Rogers, forcing Howard Stark to give the serum to the one uninjured person in the room: Peggy Carter. Peggy then goes on to become Captain Carter and defeats Hydra in a very similar way to Steve Rogers’ version of Captain America. The rest of the episodes cover everything from “What if… the original Avengers were killed off” to “What If… T’Challa became the legendary Star Lord?”. Of course, with all of the seemingly sporadic story changes, the plot can be a little random at times, but for the most part, What If…? is just a fun way to play around with the MCU’s potential. Marvel fans are loving the new versions of their favorite characters and have enjoyed seeing the way different events shaped different characters (did anybody else get a kick out of seeing a nice Thanos in the second episode?)
The second to last episode of What If…?, whose plot has yet to be announced, will premiere on Wednesday, September 29th. The final episode, presumably a big multiversal teamup between all of the introduced multiversal heroes, will premiere the following Wednesday, October 6th. What If…? episodes average about half an hour each, so there’s plenty of time to get caught up and tune into the finale. Even amidst all of the multiversal madness, one thing is for sure: the show is certain to end with all of the pomp and circumstance a Marvel project deserves and you won’t want to miss it!