Marvel asks “What If…?” in their newest animated series


Courtesy Marvel StudiosOptioned under Fair Use.

Questions and Answers. In “What if…?” Marvel asks fans to imagine the lives of their favorite superheroes going in unexpectedly new directions. The fans saw their ideas in the show (sentence in past tense)

Kate Geiger, Columns Editor

Have you thought about whether there might be an identical copy of you, living another version of your life? And if there was a universe identical to ours, what would you do in order to see it all? That’s the role of “The Watcher” in Marvel’s newest animated show, What If…?where he guides the audience through an alternative universe of the classic Marvel adventures. 

The Marvel show produces a new episode every Wednesday, and the first four episodes focus on showcasing a completely different life for the characters we’ve seen in mainstream Marvel movies. For example, episode one focuses on a timeline where S.H.I.E.L.D. Co-Founder Peggy Carter takes the super-soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers. In Episode Five, the Hulk, The Wasp, Spider-Man, and The Winter Solider work together to find a cure for a zombie attack.

I liked the fifth episode the best because the ensemble cast recreated the Marvel camaraderie that makes the movies so enjoyable. I also enjoyed the penultimate scene in Episode Nine where the main character of each previous episode gathered in a circle, prepping their weapons.

However, despite the Marvel label, the series does have some slow points. For example, the first episode with Peggy Carter didn’t grab my attention until the very end; the episode’s fight scenes were dragged out so long they become boring. They were also cut weirdly, and some episodes focused too much on fight scenes and not as much on the main plotline of the story.

I also did not like how the show focused on individual characters. It is not as interesting as the ensemble cast of most Marvel films.

In Episode Seven with Thor, I disliked Thor’s portrayal because his reaction to his mother after she gave him advice about how to behave.

Beyond plotting and characterization, “What If..?” wouldn’t be a show without the animation. The animation has a unique style, capturing the original faces from some of the actors and actresses who starred in the original Marvel movies. The creators hired Stephan Franck as head of the animation on the project; Franck’s notable works include The Iron Giant, Space Jam, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, and many others.

Another contributing factor to my enjoyment of any show or movie is the soundtrack. Composer Laura Karpman and her team of musicians produced a dynamic, emotional soundtrack for “What If..?”  Her other notable works include Lovecraft Country, Taken and more.  Specifically, the main soundtrack title elicits a calming tone, but changes quickly to fast-paced beat, which highlights the conflict of the show.

In conclusion, Marvel’s new show is quite intriguing because it showcases multiple universes that we didn’t see in the original Marvel universe.  It is not my go-to show, but I think the animation of the characters was excellent. I hope to see Marvel and Disney+ continue to adopt unique storytelling methods that aren’t simply actors and cameras.

What If…? opened new doors for the MCU, and it is only the start for more potential animated works in the future. I have faith I can speak for all Marvel fans when I say that I hope one day these animated shows become canon to the timeline.