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What If...?

Updated: May 31

IMDb Rating: 7.4/10 (Season 1)

Rotten Tomatoes: 94% (Season 1), 86% (Season 2)

"What If...?" stands as an animated anthology series originating from the United States, conceived by A. C. Bradley specifically for Disney+, the popular streaming service. Drawing inspiration from the Marvel Comics series of the same name, the show marks the fourth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), a testament to the prolific output of Marvel Studios. Notably, it distinguishes itself as Marvel Studios' inaugural foray into the realm of animated series through Marvel Studios Animation.

The essence of the series lies in its exploration of alternate timelines within the vast multiverse, offering viewers a captivating glimpse into the hypothetical scenarios that might unfold if pivotal moments in MCU films took divergent paths. A. C. Bradley serves as the head writer for the initial two seasons, complemented by the creative directorship of Bryan Andrews.

Jeffrey Wright takes on the role of the Watcher, a central character who narrates the unfolding events throughout the series. Adding to the allure, various actors from the MCU films reprise their roles, contributing to a seamless connection between the animated and live-action Marvel realms. The inception of "What If...?" took shape within Marvel Studios as early as 2018, with Bradley and Andrews assuming integral roles in its development. The official announcement came in April 2019.

One of the distinctive elements of the series is its cel-shaded animation style, meticulously crafted under the guidance of Marvel Studios' head of visual development, Ryan Meinerding. This particular aesthetic choice is intentional, mirroring the visual tone of the films and drawing inspiration from the classic works of American illustrators.

The inaugural season of "What If...?" made its debut on August 11, 2021, comprising nine episodes that captivated audiences until October 6. As an integral component of Phase Four of the MCU, the first season set a high standard with its creative storytelling and innovative scenarios. Fast forward to Phase Five, the second season premiered on December 22, 2023, with a promise to unveil nine episodes consecutively until December 30, further enriching the Marvel narrative.

Critical reception of the series has been largely positive, with acclaim directed at the voice acting, animation quality, and the inventive narrative arcs. However, some episodes faced critique for their brevity and certain aspects of the writing. Undeterred, the show's popularity has paved the way for the development of a third season, keeping audiences eagerly anticipating the unfolding possibilities within the Marvel multiverse. Additionally, a spin-off series titled "Marvel Zombies" is already in the pipeline, promising to delve into yet another intriguing facet of the expansive Marvel universe.

In the aftermath of the groundbreaking revelation about the multiverse's existence in the concluding episode of Loki's first season, "What If...?" takes the reins to delve into the intricate tapestry of alternate timelines strewn across this vast multiverse. These divergent realities unfold, showcasing how pivotal moments from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films could transpire differently, all under the observant gaze of the enigmatic Watcher.[1][2]

The second season of "What If...?" extends its narrative horizon by steering into uncharted territories. With the establishment of the Guardians of the Multiverse, a formidable alliance that transcends the boundaries of time and space, the Watcher embarks on a riveting journey. His exploration leads him to traverse through increasingly bizarre and unfamiliar worlds, where he encounters new and extraordinary heroes. In this ongoing adventure, the Watcher assumes the crucial role of safeguarding the multiverse, ensuring its stability and protecting it from the potential threats that arise from these divergent timelines.

As the narrative unfolds, audiences are treated to a captivating spectacle of creativity and imagination, with each episode presenting a unique and thought-provoking twist on familiar MCU storylines. The series, driven by the Watcher's omniscient narration, introduces viewers to a kaleidoscope of possibilities, where the boundaries of reality are fluid, and the consequences of pivotal choices reverberate across the multiverse.

In essence, "What If...?" stands as a testament to the limitless potential of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, offering fans a mesmerizing journey through alternate realities and unforeseen twists that redefine the very fabric of the established MCU narrative. Through the continued exploration of strange and captivating worlds, the second season promises to captivate audiences with its ingenuity and contribute to the ever-expanding tapestry of the Marvel multiverse.

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