Marvel Studios has had a stellar year so far. Kevin Feige’s Marvel Cinematic Universe saw the return of one of its original Avengers with Scarlett Johansson’s solo feature film, Black Widow (2021), finally hit theaters (and Disney+ Premier Access). The superhero studio also welcomed the MCU to the small screen with three huge television shows: WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki.
While the return to blockbuster Marvel movies and the launch of big-budget TV series have already captivated fans so far this year, Marvel’s next project could be the catalyst to convert the MCU to the MCM — the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse.
Debuting on August 11, Marvel’s What If…? is set to reimagine the famous iconic moments from the MCU in an alternate reality and is based on the Marvel Comics series of the same name. We know Hayley Atwell is back as Peggy Carter, although here it will be she and not Steve Rogers that will take the super-soldier serum to become the star-spangled hero, Captain Carter. The late Chadwick Boseman is back too in his final Marvel performance as T’Challa — like Peggy Carter, Boseman’s T’Challa won’t be the Black Panther here but Star-Lord instead.
The series brings in MCU newcomer Jeffrey Wright (Westworld) as Uatu, or The Watcher — a being of the cosmos that does not interfere in these influential moments of the Multiverse and serves as the show’s narrator. And that’s just what What If…? promises to be — Marvel’s first full Multiverse moment.
Sure, Michael Waldron’s Loki set up the logistics and rules of the Sacred Timeline and the Multiverse within the realms of the MCU, but What If…? could act as the gateway to this new mode of storytelling for Marvel Studios. The series has already confirmed most of its huge cast of characters will be back to voice their animated counterparts. There are a few exemptions though like Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow), Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man), Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America), and Brie Larson (Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel).
Marvel is also promising a big, mad Multiverse moment in the Doctor Strange sequel movie, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022), which some of the cast have already revealed is going to be one of Marvel’s scariest outings. That being said, we know that MCU fans will be confronted by zombies in this new show.
And then there’s Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) which has long been rumored to include past Peter Parker actors, Tobey Maguire (Spider-Man) and Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man), via a Multiverse-level event.
Yet, sandwiched in between Loki and these big upcoming movies is the new series, What If…?
Some fans may think this anthology series is nothing more than a filler to satiate their appetites before Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) and Eternals (2021), but the animated series could be so much bigger than first thought.
In fact, What If…? may have a unique connection to its television predecessor. Speaking to Den of Geek, Executive Producer Brad Winderbaum detailed some of the processes behind the upcoming series, hinting that What If…? is essentially a Loki spinoff — each episode storyline is its own Multiverse strand.
“I mean, honestly, like many things that happen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we kind of stumbled into that smart idea,” […] “I don’t know if it’s born of just the collaborative environment that we’re all lucky enough to work in at Marvel or if it was just random. But we were aware of Loki, they were aware of us, we shared scripts just like we would on all the projects, and it just happened to line up perfectly. And multiverse storytelling is in the air, so there’s also that.”
Winderbaum continues to add how the timing of What If…?‘s release and its association with Loki demonstrates the MCU’s commitment to great storytelling.
“The fact that it got to be the show right on the heels of Loki and the fact that it fits in lockstep…as we developed the shows, as we produced the shows, we realized what happened was as much serendipity and just kind of trusting the MCU as anything else,”
The executive producer even says that fans are enjoying and anticipating more Multiverse in the MCU.
“What we found as we test projects that have a multiverse bend to their story is that the audience actually is really savvy and ready for this kind of parallel-reality type scenario,”
So, while What If…? may at first have been thought of as a smart anthology animation, it may actually be so much more. Loki got the fanfare from fans as the beginnings of the Multiverse — the next big chapter of the MCU — but actually, What If…? is perhaps more important than the live-action series ever was.
Are you looking forward to What If…? Let us know in the comments!