Review: Marvel’s WHAT IF…?” Series is a Comic Book Brought to Life

“Time. Space. Reality. It’s a prism of endless possibility.
Follow me and ponder the question –
‘What If…?’”

“The Watcher”

Marvel’s WHAT IF…? What to Expect

“The Watcher” narrates Marvel’s WHAT IF…? Always watching the multiverse, where a single choice can branch out into infinite realities.

What if a comic book could come alive?

What if you could use your imagination to dream up the most fantastical stories for characters you love?

What if you could place those characters anywhere in the universe and even change their personalities??

That is exactly what Marvel’s WHAT IF…? does – this new Disney+ animated series flips the script on the MCU, reimagining famous events from the films in unexpected ways. What if Peggy Carter was injected with super soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers? Captain America becomes Captain Carter. It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? 

Marvel What If...? poster with Captain Carter

Each episode in this 9-episode season takes one character and explores what could happen if a single choice they made created a new and unexpected path. Expect roughly half-hour episodes PACKED with fast-paced, exciting storytelling and stunning visuals. The comic book pages come to life before your very eyes in riveting detail you will want to watch over and over again. We don’t have episode titles at the time of this writing, but here is what to expect in the first 3 episodes:

  1. What If… Peggy Carter takes the super soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers (airdate August 11)
  2. What If… T’Challa becomes Star Lord instead of Peter Quill (airdate August 18)
  3. What If… the Avengers Initiative ends before it begins (airdate August 25)

Marvel’s WHAT IF…? Animation

The lighting, in particular, stands out in the three episodes I was able to watch. WHAT IF…? takes film noir’s use of high-contrast light and shade, chiaroscuro, and uses it on saturated comic book colors for dramatic effect. The depth it creates on 2D animation is stunning.

If you know the MCU films well, you may recognize exact shots from the MCU recreated here with different characters swapped out. When Captain Carter rescues soldiers captured behind enemy lines and busts them out of their prison, it is almost an exact match to Captain America when he does this in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER. If you’ve watched this film recently, you will recognize even more shots repurposed for WHAT IF…?

Marvel’s WHAT IF…? Voices

Because WHAT IF…? is completely controlled by Marvel Studios, several actors we know from MCU films voice their counterpart characters here. These voices immediately establish a familiar MCU world, though the visuals may be different. I am reminded of Daisy Ridley, Lupita Nyong’o and Felicity Jones voicing Rey, Maz Kanata and Jyn Erso respectively in FORCES OF DESTINY. Here’s a list of the MCU actors we know right now, starting with Chadwick Boseman in his final appearance as Black Panther before he passed away. Watch for his performance in episode 2, accompanied by a lovely dedication.

  • Chadwick Boseman – T’Challa (Black Panther)
  • Hayley Atwell – Peggy Carter (Captain Carter)
  • Dominic Cooper – Howard Stark
  • Djimon Hounsou – Korath the Pursuer
  • Samuel L. Jackson – Nick Fury
  • Sebastian Stan – Bucky Barnes (The Winter Soldier)
  • Jeremy Renner – Clint Barton (Hawkeye)
  • Stanley Tucci – Dr. Erskine
  • Toby Jones – Zola
  • Michael Rooker – Yondu
  • Clark Gregg – Agent Coulson
  • Mark Ruffalo – Bruce Banner (Hulk)
  • Tom Hiddleston – Loki
  • Jaimie Alexander – Lady Sif
  • Jeffrey Wright – The Watcher (narrator)

Easter Eggs

I am not a Marvel Comics expert, but I did notice several fun details.

  • “The Watcher” narrates your journey through WHAT IF…? He is usually a faceless character, but occasionally you might see his outline during establishing shot moments in each episode. It’s great eye candy, and you can have bragging rights if you see them!
  • Infinity Stones sprinkled in opening credit sequence, and on Logo Reveal.
  • Captain Carter music is a dramatic reworking of Peggy and Steve’s love theme from CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER.

I’m sure I missed a few, so please share with me in the comments or Facebook! Marvel’s WHAT IF…? debuts Wednesday August 11th with each episode airing each Wednesday thereafter, only on Disney+.

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1 thought on “Review: Marvel’s WHAT IF…?” Series is a Comic Book Brought to Life

  1. Great article! I’m not a Disney expert but the animation style reminded me of the classic Disney animated films. And the high contrast light reminded me of Star Wars Resistance.

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