What If...? (TV series)
|Created by||A.C. Bradley|
|Based on||What If...?|
by Marvel Comics
|Directed by||Bryan Andrews|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Distributor||Disney Media Distribution|
|Related shows||Marvel Cinematic Universe television series|
What If...? is an upcoming American animated web television anthology series created for Disney+ by A.C. Bradley, based on the Marvel Comics series of the same name. It explores what would happen if major moments from the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) occurred differently. The series is produced by Marvel Studios, their first animated series since becoming their own production company, with animation by Squeeze. Bradley serves as head writer of the series, with Bryan Andrews directing.
Jeffrey Wright stars as the Watcher, who narrates the series. By September 2018, Marvel Studios was developing a number of series for Disney+, and one based on the What If...? comic was first reported in March 2019. The series was officially announced a month later, with many characters in the series set to be voiced by the actors who portray them in the films. Marvel Studios' head of visual development Ryan Meinerding helped define the series' cel-shaded animation style, which is designed to reflect the films.
What If...?'s first season is expected to be released in mid-2021, and will consist of 10 episodes. A second 10-episode season has been announced.
Cast and characters
- Jeffrey Wright as Uatu / The Watcher:
A member of the extraterrestrial Watcher race, who observes the multiverse and occasionally intervenes with events therein. Head writer A.C. Bradley said the Watcher is "above everything else" and compared the character to a viewer watching the "pizza rat" video, stating that he is "a guy watching a rat drag a slice of pizza across the platform. He has no interest in becoming friends with the rat, living amongst the rat, or doing rat things. He just goes, 'Man, this is remarkable. Look at the little guy go'! That is The Watcher's relationship with humanity". Bradley said Wright was cast in the role because his voice mixes power, charisma, and authority with a "warm personality".
- Hayley Atwell as Captain Peggy Carter
- Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa / Star-Lord
- Josh Brolin as Thanos
- Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark
- Michael Douglas as Hank Pym
- Karen Gillan as Nebula
- Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster
- Sean Gunn as Kraglin
- Chris Hemsworth as Thor
- Tom Hiddleston as Loki
- Djimon Hounsou as Korath the Pursuer
- Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury
- Toby Jones as Arnim Zola
- Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger
- Neal McDonough as Dum Dum Dugan
- Natalie Portman as Jane Foster
- Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton
- Michael Rooker as Yondu
- Paul Rudd as Scott Lang
- Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner
- Sebastian Stan as James "Bucky" Barnes
- Taika Waititi as Korg
By September 2018, Marvel Studios was developing several series for its parent company Disney's streaming service, Disney+; Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige was set to take a "hands-on role" in each series' development, focusing on "handling" the actors who would be reprising their roles from the films. By March 2019, Marvel Studios was planning to create an animated series based on the What If...? Marvel comics for Disney+. The anthology series, which would be produced by Feige, would explore how the MCU would be altered if certain events had occurred differently, such as if Loki wielded Thor's hammer Mjolnir. The hope was to have the actors who portray the characters in the MCU voice them in the series as well. A month later, Disney and Marvel officially announced the series. In December 2019, Feige revealed that the first season would consist of 10 episodes, and that work had already begun on a second 10-episode season.
Feige explained with the announcement of the series that the events that would be depicted as changed would be "pivotal moments" from throughout the MCU. He revealed that, for example, the first episode features Peggy Carter taking the super soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers. A.C. Bradley serves as head writer of the series, with Matthew Chauncey serving as story editor. Episodes were conceived and written by Bradley, Chauncey, series director Bryan Andrews, executive producer Brad Winderbaum, junior executive Simona Paparelli, and script coordinator Ryan Little, with the What If...? comics providing inspiration for potential story points. After creating 30 potential episode concepts, Feige chose his favorites, which were then narrowed down further to get the first season of episodes. Bradley originally pitched an episode which would have explored a possible reality in which Jane Foster became Thor. However, since the upcoming MCU film Thor: Love and Thunder (2021) is set to feature Foster as Thor, the idea was scrapped. After a rumor incorrectly stated that each episode would focus on one film from the Infinity Saga, Bradley clarified that multiple films and characters would be represented in each episode, with the intention of featuring most of the characters from all the films throughout the season.
Marvel's plan for the series was to have actors who portray characters in the MCU films reprise their roles in the series. At San Diego Comic-Con in July 2019, Feige revealed a cast list of these actors that included Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger, Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes, Josh Brolin as Thanos, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton, Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, Michael Douglas as Hank Pym, Neal McDonough as Dum Dum Dugan, Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark, Sean Gunn as Kraglin, Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, Taika Waititi as Korg, Toby Jones as Arnim Zola, Djimon Hounsou as Korath, Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster, and Michael Rooker as Yondu. Feige also announced that Jeffrey Wright had been cast as the Watcher, who narrates the series. A month later, Atwell revealed that voice recording for the series had already begun. Goldblum indicated in November 2019 that Robert Downey Jr. would be reprising his role as Tony Stark in the series.
The series, directed by Andrews, will feature a cel-shaded animation style, with character likenesses based on the actors from the films. Ryan Meinerding, the head of visual development at Marvel Studios, worked with Andrews to find the animation style for the series, which Bradley described as more of a "cinematic style". Bradley added that Marvel was "trying to use the color palette, the lighting, [and] the character design to tell as much story as you can" similarly as in live-action film. Animation studio Squeeze will work on five of ten episodes in the series' first season.
Footage from the series' first episode was shown during the D23 2019, with footage from the series also included in Expanding the Universe, a Marvel Studios special that debuted on Disney+ on November 12, 2019.
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