It’s been just over seven months since 2021 began and already Marvel Studios has delivered three expansive television shows and a new blockbuster movie. WandaVision opened the year, impressively kicking off Marvel’s delayed Phase 4 — and it was certainly worth the wait. Then Marvel fans were treated to The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki. The latter, of course, broke all sorts of records.
Then there’s Black Widow (2021), with Scarlett Johansson’s solo outing dominating the box office on its opening weekend. Next up is the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first animated series, What If…? and despite the seemingly lower expectations than its predecessors, the new project might quietly change the MCU forever.
Debuting on August 11, 2021, the first look of Marvel’s What If…? dropped only a couple of weeks ago and offered a small glance at this MCU world-bending animated series. Based on a comic book series of the same name, the premise asks the simple question of “What if?”. This new show sees the vast cast of Kevin Feige’s Marvel Cinematic Universe take on new roles in an alternate reality with each episode of the anthology series focusing on a different character. The show’s narrator is Uatu or The Watcher, played by Jeffrey Wright, who tells the story of these alternate versions of the MCU.
So far, we know that the late Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther T’Challa will be under the mentorship of Yondu (Michael Rooker) instead of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), and will be the Star-Lord in this Marvel Universe — this marks the last time fans will hear Boseman voice his Black Panther character due to his unfortunate death. We also know that Hayley Atwell’s Agent Peggy Carter will be back, although here it will be Agent Carter that takes the super-solder serum instead of Steve Rogers AKA Captain America (Chris Evans) and become Captain Carter.
What If…? may ask these interesting questions and give new stories to the beloved characters, but the majority of the cast will be back to voice their animated counterparts. Interestingly, characters like Captain Marvel and Doctor Strange will be voiced by new actors even though they both have upcoming movies — The Marvels (2022) and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022). At this time, we don’t know why Brie Larson and Benedict Cumberbatch aren’t cast in What If…?. Additionally, the characters of Tony Stark AKA Iron Man and Captain America will be voiced by new actors in the new series.
The What If…? trailer offered a glimpse at the type of adventures the superheroes will face. One moment showed a cheeky interaction with Black Panther and Yondu, and another brought together Atwell’s Captain Carter with the Sorcerer Supreme amidst scenes of the latest star-spangled hero fighting a green-tentacled monster.
Let’s unpack the latter.
When looked at through the lens of Captain Carter’s interaction with Doctor Strange then this monster could possibly be Shuma-Gorath — the long-time adversary of the New York sorcerer. Interestingly, Shuma-Gorath is rumored to be the big bad in the upcoming Doctor Strange sequel. Meaning, in the broadest sense, this encounter in What If…? might suggest that the animated series may have more of an impact on the later MCU movies down the line and the overall story the next Phase will tell.
As well as this, a new rumor points to Atwell’s Captain Carter making an appearance in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Via The DisInsider Show podcast:
“[What If…? is] not the last time we’re going to see Captain Carter. We are hearing…this is not confirmed. Captain Carter is supposedly going to show up in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”
Marvel Studios nor The Walt Disney Company have not confirmed Atwell’s appearance in the Marvel movie but the rumor does hold weight when looking at What If…? as a potential setup. And then, What If…? could be a chance for Marvel fans to be gently introduced to a whole slate of new characters that could later be explored in the MCU’s feature films in Phase 4, Phase 5, and beyond.
In fact, with Doctor Strange tackling the Multiverse in his sequel, many more characters we know — and don’t — may show up alongside Cumberbatch’s Stephen Strange and Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch).
It may all seem a bit random to introduce new characters especially when fans have been emotionally invested with certain heroes for over 10 years but with Loki blowing the Multiverse wide open, it’s a clever move on Marvel’s part to bring in other versions of fan-favorite characters under the guise of a “what if?” narrative.
Speaking of Loki, Tom Hiddleston himself also recently teased that the animated series will impact the MCU later on. Speaking on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the Loki actor said:
“I am intrigued because I haven’t seen the whole thing,” […] “And then it sets up a whole bunch of stuff in the MCU, which I know nothing about,”
Hiddleston’s comments here are slightly surprising for the reason that What If…?, despite its clever premise, at first didn’t seem like this game-changing series Marvel seems to be setting it up as — especially when viewed next to the hype surrounding WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki.
Whatever comes to fruition from Marvel’s next television venture is sure to bring all the shocking surprises we are so used to expecting with the MCU. However, as more rumors and information trickle in, What If…? might just be set to alter the Universe in a way we haven’t seen before.
Are you excited for What If…? Let us know in the comments!