To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, What If…? is an animated anthology series for the streaming service Disney+, based on the Marvel Comics series of the same name. It is the fourth television series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), meaning it shares continuity with the films of the franchise. Produced by A.C. Bradley who also serves as the head writer with Bryan Andrews directing, the series stars the voice talents of Jeffrey Wright and a multitude of returning actors from the MCU. The series is narrated by the Watcher and explores the alternate timelines in the multiverse created after the events of Loki Season 1 that show what would happen if major moments from the MCU films occurred differently. To properly review a series such as What If…?, some spoilers must be discussed so if you have not finished the show do not read any further.
What If…? is the first animated series set within the MCU and it looks great. Most of the character models match the actors well with only a few faces looking a little off. Stephan Franck uses 3D computer-generated imagery with a cel-shaded animation style to reflect the realism of the films while integrating the brilliance and flashiness of the comics. Whenever cosmic energy attacks are used, the Kirby Krackle (also known as Kirby Dots) from the comics appear to add a bit of contrast. This also sets it apart from other animated shows currently on Disney+. With only nine episodes in the first season, the ones that stand out are “What If… Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?”, “What If… Ultron Won?”, and “What If… the Watcher Broke His Oath?” These are the only episodes that are shown to have broader potential implications on the multiverse moving forward. They are also some of the only ones with original storylines barely tied to the films.
The voice cast for What If…? is stellar. Many actors return to voice their respective characters from the MCU including the late great Chadwick Boseman in what ended up being his final MCU appearance as T’Challa/Black Panther and only appearance as T’Challa/Star-Lord. There are also several voice actors doing great impersonations of actors who could not return such as Mick Wingert replacing Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man, Josh Keaton replacing Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America, Hudson Thames replacing Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, and Lake Bell replacing Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow. Due to the multiverse nature of the show, many comic book characters who have not been in the films such as Peggy Carter/Captain Britain, Hank Pym/Yellowjacket, Steve Rogers/HYDRA Stomper, Loki Prince of Jötunheim, Doctor Strange-Supreme, and Infinite-Ultron also appear.
Some of the episodes are almost beat for beat the same as the film it is based on such as “What If… Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?” While it is fun to see Peggy fight HYDRA agents, it’s something we already saw in Captain America: The First Avenger with Steve. There are a few inconsistencies that aren’t addressed or just left up to the fact that it’s a multiverse and anything can happen. One being that T’Challa shouldn’t be called Star-Lord as that is a nickname given to him by his mother before she died. Loki’s size as a Jötun is not smaller as presented in the films. Also, Loki’s name should be different as it was given to him by Odin and Frigga. There is also the missing episode rumored to be “What If… Tony Stark Ended Up On Sakaar?” that was not finished due to COVID-19 Pandemic and was pushed to Season 2. As some characters from this episode appear in the finale, it would have been better if they pushed the show’s premiere to finish the episode and fit it in.
It would have been a more enjoyable season if there were more ties to the live-action MCU films and shows especially after the events of Loki. I feel that’s what was promised as What If…? is billed as a part of Phase Four of the MCU. I give What If…? an Average 3.4/5. With Season 2 already confirmed hopefully, we get more connectivity to the main MCU timeline. The possibilities (episodes) are endless!