Exploring How Marvel's 'What If' Could Turn Out as an Anthology
Ever since Marvel Studios got its hands on the new Disney+ streaming platform, it has expanded its already massive cinematic universe to ridiculous proportions. Not that we’re complaining!
With the events of Loki season 1 out of the way, Marvel has another ace up its sleeve: What If?
For those unfamiliar, What If? initially started as an anthological comic series back in 1977 and entertained the possibility of critical moments in the Marvel heroes’ lives going differently.
Like, say, what if somebody other than Steve Rogers got the coveted super-soldier serum?
A Multiverse of Possibilities
Now that Marvel has officially embraced the idea of alternate realities, thanks to the latest adventures of the God of Mischief, the studio has a whole multiverse of possibilities at its fingertips.
Sadly, the proportions of the MCU are such that not every “What If?” can be explored to the fullest, regardless of pleading, hungry fans worldwide.
Bringing us to the obvious conclusion that if the creatives over at Marvel were to do a What If? plotline, they’d have to do it as they did with the comics—short, to-the-point one-offs. Right?
However, it also begs the question: would Marvel Studios spend so much time and resources to ponder what might have been without actually advancing the dense plotline required for Phase 4? The likely answer here would be a glorious no!
Independent Episodes or Independent Seasons?
A discussion on Reddit asked another important question about how the animated series might progress.
They questioned if the show would be like Love, Death, Robots, where every episode is independent, or like American Horror Story where each season is independent.
The user was convinced that it was the former, as one might be, coming from the comics. However, the trailer led them to think otherwise.
In response, a user suggested that the show might take off as an anthology with the story eventually converging into a grand spectacle in the finale.
Another respondent was adamant that it would be like the comics. They further added that the intent behind the animated series, much like the comics, was just to deliver to the audience a taste of what the extended MCU would look like.
The jury is still out on where the MCU acronym stands, now that we have arrived at a multiversal junction.
Yet another user speculated that the story is probably an anthology that would end with a multiversal team-up, similar to what DC has been cooking up with its Arrowverse.
They pointed out that there might be more significant implications than they previously thought with the new lineup in the battle of New York, Captain Carter, possibly trans-dimensional beings, and what looks like Wanda in full Scarlet Witch getup fighting other heroes being the stand out frames.
New Canon Characters?
I find myself leaning into an amalgamation of these ideas.
What If? has never been about the canon story arc, and having an anthological story like the source material sounds fun and engaging.
But, at the same time, it is unlikely that Marvel would invest so heavily in what can almost be passed off as fan fiction that does not move the story forward in any way.
What I find likely, is that the studio is taking a step back to properly let the audiences know what having a multiverse meant, and introduce characters that have the ability and potential to interact with the multiverse in a certain way, not unlike the comically useless Watcher.
It would be a great way to flesh out Dr. Strange's abilities, introduce transdimensional entities and even Loki variants.
While the majority of the anthological stories would remain non-canon, the series can definitely introduce more than a few characters that can be brought into the primary plotline for Phase 4.