Out of all of the seemingly millions of Marvel projects Kevin Feige announced as being in production for Disney +, What If…? was certainly one of the most intriguing. Unlike any of the other shows or films in the MCU, the writers didn’t have to be bogged down by any sort of canon or continuity and had complete freedom to play with all the toys in the MCU sandbox in whichever way they pleased. Alternate histories in general are often fascinating, The Man In The High Castle is a hugely underrated show based completely around the premise of the Germans winning The Second World War. Though for many, an alternate history of a fictional world (especially one as popular as the MCU’s) would be far more entertaining, and that’s exactly what What If…? delivers.
What If…? categorically demonstrates how successful the MCU has become. Never has a major franchise spawned a spin off series based completely off of characters making different choices. What’s great about the different choices in What If…? is that they are far more specific than what was let on in the marketing. The story about Captain Carter stems from a very minute point in the plot of Captain America: The First Avenger. This goes for the second and third episode as well. It shows the level of love and care for the MCU these writers have that they would be able to think of whole stories from such specific moments.
To get more specific about each individual story, the first episode follows Peggy Carter taking the super soldier serum, becoming Captain Carter (not Captain Britain, despite the Union Jack attire and shield). It delivers very much what you’d expect, though you get to see Captain Carter doing a lot more of a variety of war fighting activities than Chris Evans ever did in the original Cap film. That being said though, this episode’s story does basically follow the same plot points as Captain America: The First Avenger with a few aesthetic changes here and there. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s fairly predictable.
Episode two shows us Yondu kidnapping T’Challa instead of Peter Quill. This is somewhat of an emotional episode as it’s dedicated to the late, great Chadwick Boseman. Seeing the very regal character of T’Challa become the loveable rogue of Star Lord is a very unique premise and does produce a lot of great scenes, though this definitely is the weakest episode of the first three. The choice that starts this alternate tale is slightly contrived, plus there’s a scene at the end that shows what Peter Quill was doing the whole time which seemed like a more interesting story. This episode has some good surprises but is so far the one most played for laughs rather than story.
The third episode by contrast is definitely the best. It’s got a really interesting and dark premise that has you at the edge of your seat. The alternate routes from the original films this goes down are really fascinating and result in a fantastic finale combining characters that have rarely met in the original canon. However, the less said about this one the better as not much information is available about it at the moment. Rest assured, come week three, you’re in for a big treat!
What If…? is a beautifully animated and joyously written love letter to the MCU. All the stories so far have been really cleverly thought up even if they don’t always stick the landing perfectly. Look forward to several weeks of crazy MCU tales told by the dulcet tones of Jeffrey Wright’s The Watcher.
What If…? Episode 1 is available to watch now on Disney+.