Marvel Studios’ “What If …?” is a 10-episode animated anthology series that will explore one of many infinite possibilities within the MCU’s multiverses. Each of these episodes will have a unique spin on some of our favorite stories that we have seen in the past and introduce some new ones we have yet to see. And despite all of them having a twist on those stories, they are still a part of the MCU tapestry.
ThatsItLA attended the “What If…?” virtual press conference that took place this past weekend. During that time, we got a chance to talk about the show, its tone, the connections to the MCU, and future seasons to writer AC Bradley, executive producer Brad Winderbaum, director Byran Andrews, and the voice of The Watcher Jeffrey Wright.
It’s an anthology and part of the aspect of that being an anthology, just like those ‘Twilight Zones’ back in the day, it’s like you never know what you’re gonna get,” Andrews said about the tones of the show. “You know, you might get an episode that’s a comedy, you might get an episode that’s dramatic and serious, like super emotional, full of action. And you know, all of us, you know, AC [Bradley], Brad [Winderbaum], and myself, Kevin [Feige], Victoria [Alonzo], it’s like we all love cinema. This gave us an opportunity to apply a little taste of a variety of genres into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So one can maybe goes a little bit darker. One gets funnier.”
Having that multiverse gives the creators the freedom to tell these “What If…?” stories the way they were meant to be told and stay loosely connected to the MCU. “It’s written in the book itself, just ‘What if,” you know, like, what is this one of that things are so different. So weird, so crazy. It just opens the floodgates. We can do whatever we wanted to. And that was quite exhilarating, you know, to be able to play in that way.”
“We are trying to create stories that exist on their own terms. You know, so if you were to watch any episode of ‘What If…?’ and that was the only episode watch, you get a full experience, hopefully, with a character that lives a rich life and changes dynamically and is entertaining and emotionally satisfying,” Winderbaum added about the possibility of an individual episode being a part of a larger story. “But it is also Marvel. And as we know, there’s always strange alchemy at work. You never know. They could all connect. We’ll have to see.”
Ironically, when it came to creating these episodes, the last thing that was on anybody’s minds was the “What If…?,” “I think what we all looked for was, what’s the heart behind the hero? How do we get behind the shield? What’s a part of the story we haven’t told before?” Bradley said about the goals of the series. “For me, these characters are iconic. We recognize their silhouettes, we recognize their taglines. But what’s important is how we connect to them.”
And to help guide us on this journey is The Watcher, voiced by Wright. It’s important to note that The Watcher is an observer of the events that unfold in each episode and cannot interfere with what is going on. He’s pretty much the ultimate fan who gets to watch not just one universe but all of them. As such, he has a profound connection to all of the characters he sees. “He’s kind of defined by them. It’s his life’s passion to observe and connect with them with their heroism, with their flaws. Without them, he’s nothing in some regard. So he adores them and is compelled by them,” Wright said. “In a way that gives, that gives him purpose. That gives his life meaning. I think in some ways, you know, as I think about these characters, and what they’ve come to represent for we who watch them, we who are like The Watcher.”
“I think that the passion behind fans’ connection to these characters is this level of trust, this level of understanding and of hope, that is imbued in them in a way that maybe is not found outside of this mythology,” Wright added. “Where trust is difficult to hold on to and to place in any individuals, we can always place our trust in these characters, and that the deepness of that connection, I think, for fans is a powerful one.”
Speaking of connections, “What If…?” isn’t just a collection of episodes that will explore the questions that many of us have been pondering. In fact, the events of “Loki” gives fans a chance to what is happening in a different universe. So it’s not entirely separated from the MCU that we know now. In addition, some of the episodes play a massive role in the future of “What If…?” A future that will see more episodes and seasons with Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell).
“We realized, I think, early on in development as we were starting to get [writer] AC [Bradley’s] scripts and starting to look at the arc of the series that there was going to be a character that bubbled up and became more important,” Winderbaum said. “Not more important than the rest, but had a strong relationship with The Watcher, who is our driving force behind the series, and that’s Captain Carter.”
“We realized as we started developing the second season that Captain Carter was going to be the character we would revisit in every season, and continue that adventure,” Winderbaum said about Captain Carter’s role in the series. “Obviously, we’re telling a story on a giant multiversal canvas. So you never really know who’s going to pop up where and when. It’s very much an anthology, but there’s always an opportunity for fun connections to be made.”
And fans have a chance to see those connections to the multiverse, thanks in part to the events that transpired in “Loki.” “It’s no coincidence that the show picks up right after Loki, you know, the, you know, spoiler alert, but the multiverse is now erupted in every possible direction,” Winderbaum said. “And “What If…? gives us a chance to explore that. And, and I think you can tell that that in this next saga, the multiverse is going to be crucial.”
“What If …?” debuts, exclusively, on Disney+ on August 11, 2021.