Marvel’s WHAT IF…? Is Part of MCU Canon

There are many, many projects coming down the Marvel pike, but none is quite so curious as the Disney+ animated TV series What If…? First announced in early 2019  and further detailed a couple of months later at San Diego Comic-Con, the program will follow the model of the like-named comic series, telling non-canonical (at least to our main universe, anyway) stories about our favorite MCU heroes in hypothetical (often somewhat bizarre) scenarios.

What Is It About?

At San Diego Comic-Con 2019, we learned a few interesting bits of info about the developing project. Jeffrey Wright will narrate the series as The Watcher, an extraterrestrial character who should need no introduction to Marvel diehards. In fact, the character known as The Watcher, properly named Uatu, is actually one of many Watchers (an alien race known for their proclivity to monitor other civilizations), but distinguishes as the one who keeps a close eye on Earth.

And then during Disney’s investor call, Kevin Feige shared a first look at the upcoming animated series. You can watch it above.

Who Is in It?
Yondu in What If


So who will Wright’s character be watching? Pretty much everyone in the MCU… or at least versions of them. As also revealed at SDCC, many MCU stars will be reprising their roles on the animated series, though they might not be quite as we remember them. Already signed on to guest star on the anthology program:

Michael B. Jordan (Killmonger), Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes a.k.a. The Winter Soldier), Josh Brolin (Thanos), Mak Ruffalo (Bruce Banner a.k.a. The Hulk), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Hayley Atwell (Peggy Carter), Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa a.k.a. Black Panther), Kare Gillan (Nebula), Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton a.k.a. Hawkeye), Paul Rudd (Scott Lang a.k.a. Ant-Man), Michael Douglas (Hank Pym), Dominic Cooper (Howard Stark), Sean Gunn (Kraglin Obfonteri), Natalie Portman (Jane Foster, who, as we recently found out, will also be taking on an upsized role in Thor 4), Stanley Tucci (Dr. Abraham Erskine of Captain America: The First Avenger), Taika Waititi (Korg), Toby Jones (evil scientist Arnim Zola), Djimon Hounsou (Korath the Pursuer), Jeff Goldblum (The Grandmaster), Michael Rooker (Yondu), Chris Sullivan (Taserface of the Guardians of the Galaxy films), and David Dastmalchian (Kurt of the Ant-Man films).

The biggest, coolest thing is Hayley Atwell will voice Captain Peggy Carter in the series, sporting a shield of her own emblazoned with the British Union Jack. In addition, Marvel’s Agent M tweeted the footage showed “zombie Cap, Steve in a tank-like suit with Captain Carter, Bucky, a very different Star-Lord and more.”

Who’s Involved Behind the Scenes?

A.C. Bradley will serve as showrunner, writer, and producer of What If…?, with Star Wars: Clone Wars and Samurai Jack writer Bryan Andrews serving as director. The series’ animation is led by Stephan Franck (The Smurfs: Legend of Smurfy Hollow) following input from Marvel’s head of visual development Ryan Meinerding.

When and Where Will It Air?

What If…?‘s first season, which will consist of 10 episodes, will debut on August 11 on Disney+. Episodes will air every Wednesday, kicking off with Captain Carter’s adventure followed by a T’Challa and Loki adventures. A second season, likewise consisting of 10 episodes, has been officially ordered to follow.

An Early Look

A month later, at the Marvel section of Disney+’s D23 Expo panel, Kevin Feige and the showrunner of What If…? showcased a sizzle reel of sorts for their new series, which will recontextualize all 23 Marvel movies in a new way, with a single major difference.

In August 2021, series head writer AC Bradley confirmed to IGN that What If…? would be considered canon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was speculated that this show could dive into the newly minted multiverse established in Loki, but this news will certainly only heighten fan interest.

Featured Image: Marvel

Originally published on July 23, 2019, with updates on August 4, 2020 and August 3, 2021.

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