All of our favorite MCU characters are back in animated form, along with a few more obscure players, in the first trailer for What if…?, an upcoming series on Disney + in which the key events of the main timeline unfold differently, “creating a multiverse of endless possibilities.” It’s part of MCU Phase Four, where this multiverse will clearly play a central role.
(Some spoilers for previous MCU movies below.)
This new series is based on the What if…? A comic book anthology series that debuted in 1977, narrated by a character called Uatu the Watcher, an entity from a computer world who travels through the cosmos observing the rise and fall of various civilizations. Every story in the comics centered around one event in the mainstream Marvel Universe, but then there would be a point of divergence, and the rest of the story explored the consequences of that shift in the timeline. Marvel Studios first explored the What if…? concept in S4 of Agents of SHIELD., when the team members found themselves trapped in a virtual creation called the Framework, each living a radically different life.
The Disney + series recreates the basic narrative framework of the comics, with Jeffrey Wright (Westworld, Source code) voicing Uatu the Watcher and narrating the episodes. Editor-in-chief AC Bradley drew an analogy between the Watcher watching the events of the MCU and people watching that famous video of “pizza rat” dragging a slice down the steps of a New York subway station. “He has no interest in befriending rats, living among rats, or doing things with rats,” Bradley said. “He just said, ‘Dude, this is remarkable. Watch the little guy go!'”
Each of the 10 S1 episodes will explore how a given pivotal event, perhaps the same “link events” introduced in Loki– would be changed if things turned out a little differently, like Loki wielding Mjolnir instead of Thor. Multiple Marvel movies and characters will be portrayed in each episode, and a big part of the show’s appeal is that all of the original actors are voicing the iconic roles they’ve brought to the big screen, including the late Chadwick Boseman in the role. of T’Challa (aka Black Panther).
Trailer opens with an animated recreation of the original’s opening scenes Iron Man (2008). Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark is in a military trailer that is attacked by terrorists, except instead of being blown up by one of Stark Industries’ iconic weapons, he is saved by none other than Killmonger. So, does that mean he’ll never become Iron Man? Yes indeed: the word is that one of the first two episodes will explore a reality where Steve Rogers instead assumes the mantle of Iron Man.
The other episode will feature Peggy Carter taking the Super Soldier Serum instead of Steve to become Captain Britain. The trailer also shows us T’Challa as Star-Lord (who teams up with Yondu), what does Peter Parker look like as Doctor Strange, the Avengers zombies and… Howard the Duck? I think it’s safe to say that things are going to get weird, in a good way.
“The weather. The reality. It’s changing,” said a voiceover, which is all the point of What if…? Between this series and the chronological antics of Loki– not to mention the casting rumors circulating Spider-Man: No Path Home-we will have explored a lot of this extended MCU before Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hits theaters next year.
What if…? debuts on Disney + on August 11, 2021. A second 10-episode season is already in development.
Listing Image by Marvel Studios