What If…?: A review of the new Marvel show that twists original stories

The newest Marvel animated series is out and it plays with its original storylines to create interesting new ideas.

The newest Marvel animated series is out and it plays with its original storylines to create interesting new ideas.

Jeshua Glover

The premier season of Marvel’s latest TV show, “What If…?” has officially ended after a nine-week run, offering a twist on all you think you knew about the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The series puts its audience in the shoes of The Watcher (Jeffrey Wright), a cosmic being that spends all his time observing different universes within the multiverse. The show is animated and features a handful of MCU cast members returning to voice their iconic roles. These were also the last recorded performances from the late Chadwick Boseman.

The premise of the show focuses on what would happen if something from the main Marvel universe happened slightly differently. For example, what would happen if Peggy Carter received the super-soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers? What if Ultron successfully took over Vision’s body in “Avengers: Age of Ultron”? What if Loki never grew up as Thor’s brother but grew up with his original family on Jotunheim as a frost giant? 

The first three episodes ease the audience into the concept by only changing the stories of MCU titles slightly. Peggy Carter as Captain America pretty much follows the same narrative as the original movie but with a different main character. T’Challa being the one to be abducted by the ravagers from “Guardians of the Galaxy” is different from the original movie, but not in too many impactful ways.

The “murder-mystery” episode was a good change of pace, but it wasn’t vastly different from the MCU we know, just different circumstances.

The middle three episodes turn up the intensity, with major world-bending consequences. Episode four ponders what would happen if Doctor Strange lost the love of his life instead of destroying his hands. It seems inconsequential, but the rabbit hole that the character goes down to save his lover leads to the destruction of his universe.

Episode five, “Marvel Zombies,” is simply a zombie movie featuring superheroes and super-zombies. The emotional weight of this episode, paired with the voice performances, made it one of the more popular episodes. Episode six asks what would happen if Erik Killmonger developed a manipulative relationship with Tony Stark to meet his own ends. The episode twists both the “Black Panther” and “Iron Man” movies, with many unexpected changes.

The last three episodes keep their foot on the gas leading into the finale. Episode seven, “Party Thor,” wonders if Thor grew up without his adopted brother Loki and became an immature party animal instead. From the light mood to frost giant Loki to the Thor vs. Captain Marvel fight, this episode was very well-rounded. 

Episode eight follows the events of “Age of Ultron” if the Avengers were unable to stop him from receiving his vibranium body. The level of power that Ultron achieves is so monumental that he comes for the Watcher and nearly defeats him. 

The season finale establishes Ultron as a major threat to the multiverse. The Watcher handpicks characters from different universes and brings them together to fight Ultron in an amazing battle. 

The show had many stellar voice acting performances and great storytelling. The second season has been announced, but no date has been revealed, but the first season set pretty strong roots among MCU fans.

Rating: 7/10