Marvel fans, can you imagine a world where Thanos didn’t snap his gauntlet-covered fingers? Where, in Asgard, Loki wields Thor’s hammer? Where Steve Rogers never became Captain America (and consequently never became “America’s ass”)? More importantly, one where Thor never grew a beard? Well, buckle up.
Marvel Studios’ new animated comic series What If...?, directed by Bryan Andrew (Avengers: Endgame), contemplates what would happen if the biggest, most pivotal moments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe happened differently. Completely unraveling the MCU as we know it, the show asks the (existential) titular question: what if?
The 10-episode show created by A.C. Bradley (Arrow) will air on Marvel’s partner platform Disney+ beginning Aug. 11. Based on the namesake comic book series released in the ’70s, it plays with the concepts of time, space, and reality to bring fans alternate stories about the MCU. The possibilities are, well, dizzyingly infinite.
The What If...? Trailer
Released on July 8, the first trailer of What If...? invites viewers to “enter the multiverse of endless possibilities.” For roughly over two minutes, viewers are treated to an action-packed flurry of the MCU’s beloved characters in seemingly mismatched costumes and worlds. “Time, reality, it’s changeable,” says a woman, as an animated Doctor Strange falls into a void. T’Challa is a world (or galaxy) away from Wakanda, and Tony Stark befriends Killmonger.
The What If...? Cast
Most of the actors who play the iconic superheroes in the multiverse diaspora come back to voice their same roles in the series. The newest addition to the MCU, and perhaps the biggest in this series, is multi-award winner Jeffrey Wright (Westworld), who plays Uatu The Watcher, the show’s omniscient extraterrestrial narrator. Another character taking center stage in the first season is Peggy Carter (or Captain Carter), previously introduced in the MCU as Steve Rogers’ love interest. Hayley Atwell (Howard’s End) reprises her role as Peggy.
The original Avengers team also guest stars to voice their characters. Listen up for Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Sebastian Stan as Bucky, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Mark Ruffalo as Hulk, and Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, among many others. Josh Brolin, the MCU’s biggest villain (for now), also reprises his role as Thanos.
The late Chadwick Boseman also reprises his role as T’Challa. What If...? was one of his final projects before he lost his battle to cancer in August 2020.
The What If...? Comics & Release Date
Every Wednesday beginning August 11 on Disney+, What If...? will answer just that. It’s unclear how much the show will stray from the original comic books, but some storylines are rumored to be tweaked based on upcoming MCU movies in the pipeline. In an interview with Discussing Film, writer Bradley said they used the comic books “to draw from” but also “used passions of ours in other ways to change the story.”
Each of the 10 episodes will explore different alternate realities. The pilot asks, what if instead of Steve Rogers, it’s Peggy who takes the super-soldier serum and wields the shield? Another episode muses what would happen if T’Challa becomes Star-Lord (originally played by Chris Pratt) and is part of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Perhaps that episode will include T’Challa dancing à la Peter Quill to the Black Panther soundtrack. With a second season already in the works, expect lots of character switcheroos, superhero clique trades, and universe crossovers.
But really, can we imagine a Steve Rogers without spandex? Not sure I want to live in that alternate universe.