Disney+ embraces a new side of Marvel Studios in this anthology-like animated series. Narrated by Jefferey Wright, ‘What If…?’ ponders on alternate and diverse MCU stories, providing twists and story changes in the established MCU Canon. Whether those changes are meaningful to the actual story it’s based on, however, is a different story. That being said, despite featuring some truly beautiful animation and charming performances (for the most part), Marvel’s first foray into animation is one that finds itself somewhat lacking in the story department, if the first episode is any indication.
Coming off the heels of the solid and entertaining ‘LOKI’, Marvel Studios ‘What If…?’ Took the concept of branched realities and alternate timelines and runs with it. The focus of the first makes for a great first scenario. “What if Peggy Carter got the super soldier serum?”. This is nothing too outrageous for casual viewers, and manages o sell the premise of showcasing alternate history and what the show is capable of, both story and animation wise.
The animation on display looks like hybrid of hand drawn 2D and 3D computer animation. This isn’t ‘Spider-Verse’, but it gets the job done. The action on screen is kinetic and because of the limitless possibilities of animated stories, some creative liberties are able to be take with certain power sets. Case in point, Hayley Atwell’s ‘Captain Carter’, this alternate timelines super solider extraordinaire. Overall, the animation works incredibly well.
The way Captain Carter moves and is able to perform her incredible feats in the animation realm gives her an edge over her Steve Rogers counterpart. It’s interesting to watch what another good hearted super soldier could do in Captain America’s shoes. Bringing back almost all of the familiar cast from The First Avenger to voice their animated counterparts brings a real authenticity to the project. Haley Atwell as Peggy and Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark are highlights of this premiere episode.
There are glaring problems with this season premiere as well. First off, the entire ‘What if?’ Premise hinges on promising the viewer a drastic change in the established MCU canon. In the case of Carter being the super soldier rather than Rogers, that is about all we get. Every story beat from The First Avenger is repeated. The only noticeable difference is a slight change in final altercations and the fact that it is Carter with he shield rather than Steve. The character growth and change in story that is expected from a ‘what if?’ Story is almost entirely non existent.
Overall, the first episode of What If…? Leaves something to be desired. There’s a charm to the twist on the original First Avenger film. However there’s not much beyond the superficial change to the story. Hopefully, the remaining episodes do more than just a subtle change to an MCU classic. – Ernesto Valenzuela
Grade – 6/10
‘What If…?’ Streams New Episodes Every Wednesday on Disney+