Nikki Emma ’25 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Marvel’s new Disney Plus show “What If…?” describes itself as a “series that explores alternate timelines in the multiverse that show what would happen if major moments from the Marvel Cinematic Universe films occurred differently.” The concept itself was intriguing when it was announced at San Diego Comic-Con back in 2019. Now, with the first few episodes out and the rest to follow in the upcoming weeks, fans are finally able to see how Marvel is going about this interesting concept. Spoilers for the MCU ahead.
The show brought back beloved characters like Tony Stark (voiced by Mick Wingert in “What If…?”) only to kill them one more time. For example, episode three sees Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) struggling to create the Avengers after members are targeted by a serial killer. This episode was a unique contrast from the usual “family-friendly” vibe that Marvel engages in. What kid wants to watch their favorite heroes get murdered before the big superhero team-up can even happen?
An even more riveting premise, however, was episode five which involved zombies. This episode picks up at the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War, following Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) as he crashes back to Earth and lands in the Sanctum Sanctorum. In this case, however, Bruce finds the world overrun by Zombies, yikes! This episode was probably the most enjoyable of the series thus far, but the first episode was also extremely entertaining and it revolved around Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) being transformed into Captain America when Steve Rogers is injured.
This show has been a strange experience for viewers—seeing the Marvel Universe willing to take risks and not concerned with the repercussions these storylines will have on future films. While Marvel movies and shows being part of a distinctive universe is one of the best parts of the series, it limits creative ability. The only time Marvel has explored a “darker” ending within one of its films was Avengers: Infinity War, but that movie had years of films leading up to it. Even then, that film’s climactic ending was essentially “taken back” when Avengers: Endgame brought all of the characters back. “What If…?” takes new risks that audiences have never seen before, which makes the show so compelling.
Another thing that is interesting about “What If…?” is the animation. The use of animation has always been heavily tied into comic book shows and movies, but the MCU has shied away from it up until this point. A show of this nature would have been impossible without this form of storytelling. Characters like Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), are so associated with the actors who played them that casting anyone else would not have been possible. Even hearing a voice other than Robert Downey Jr. speaking as Tony Stark in What If…? is jarring enough. It’s an exciting experience for fans to see the characters they have grown to love but expected not to see on screen again in a new form. Overall, Marvel’s new series What If…? offers an exciting new style of storytelling that fans are eager to see more of.