What If…? flips the script on the MCU, reimagining famous events from the films in unexpected ways. Coming to Disney+ in Summer 2021, Marvel Studios’ first animated series focuses on different heroes from the MCU, featuring a voice cast that includes a host of stars who reprise their roles. The series is directed by Bryan Andrews; Ashley Bradley is head writer.
As the series has gone on, however, its possible impact on the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe has become apparent. Recently, head writer Ashley (AC) Bradley sat down with Entertainment Tonight to share details about an especially pivotal What If…? moment — the death of Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) after he lost Christine Palmer — not his hands — in the car accident that forever altered his life.
“Originally in the script, regular Strange, his death was a lot more gruesome. He was actually beaten to death by the Eye of Agamotto. Then when the storyboard artist took it over, they were like, ‘We’re going to make this a little bit more visual and fantastical instead of horrifically violent.’ Because I went too dark.”
Bradley was referring to What If…? Episode 4, in which the “real Doctor Strange” died when Doctor Strange Supreme — remember, the Marvel Multiverse is well-and-truly here following Loki — absorbed him to, in essence, return Palmer to his version of reality.
Bradley continued, sharing why she originally wanted the Sorceror Supreme to die such a violent death, even though her first concept didn’t make it into production:
“But this was our chance to be big comic book dorks and show the different sides and have some fun. And the original What If…? comic books were notorious for having tragic endings and twist endings which I wanted to play with. And we were free to go wherever we wanted.”
Cumberbatch joined fellow Avengers franchise stars like Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/the Hulk), Josh Brolin (Thanos), Hayley Atwell (Peggy Carter/Captain Carter), Paul Rudd (Scott Lang/Ant-Man), Natalie Portman (Jane Foster), Michael Douglas (Dr. Hank Pym), Michael B. Jordan (Erik “Killmonger” Stevens), Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton/Hawkeye), Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier), and late actor Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa/Black Panther) in the What If…? voice talent line-up.
As for Cumberbatch, his time in the MCU is seemingly far from over. The actor is slated to appear in the last installment of the Spider-Man trilogy, Spider-Man: No Way Home on December 17, 2021. He will be joined by Tom Holland, Zendaya (MJ), and, reportedly, members of the “Spider-Verse” like Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, though Garfield has been particularly adamant he won’t be appearing.
What do you think? Will What If…? impact Doctor Strange as Kevin Feige’s Phase 4 progresses?