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‘What If…?’ Couples Astounding Animation And Superb Storytelling – Review

“Time…reality…it’s changeable.”

As people, we always question things and ponder about where we might be had we decided to take a different path or if something in our lives had happened in a different way. In the animated series What If…? the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it is turned on its head and will leave viewers in awe of these alternate realities.

The first three episodes follow the journeys of Agent Peggy Carter, T’Challa and Nick Fury as they navigate new territory that we’ve never seen before. In What If…? audiences bear witness to a world where Agent Carter has taken the super serum and becomes Captain Carter, complete with a Union Jack-styled uniform and shield (and yes, the outfit and shield come from the brilliant mind of Howard Stark, and of course, the shield still defies all laws of gravity and motion).

Captain Carter - What If...?
Captain Carter in Marvel Studios’ WHAT IF…? exclusively on Disney+. (©Marvel Studios 2021)

T’Challa (a.k.a. Black Panther) never gets the chance to take up the Wakandan mantle from his father, King T’Chaka because an incident sees him brought to space where he’s raised as a Ravager and ultimately becomes this particular universe’s Star-Lord, complete with the Milano spaceship. Lastly, Nick Fury is trying to complete his Avengers initiative, but rallying the troops proves a lot more difficult than he expected and the reason? Well, you’ll just have to watch the series to find out.

Although I was only given the first three episodes of What If…?, I can honestly say that this has been my favourite new Marvel Studios Disney+ exclusive series to date. From the very first episode, What If…? is hard-hitting, action-packed and while it displays some of our favourite heroes in a new light, they’re still very much in tune with their original counterparts who audiences have grown to love.  Removing the characters from their original elements was not only fun, but it sets them up to experience things differently and because of this, viewers will be able to experience them in different ways.

The Watcher (voiced by Jeffrey Wright) in Marvel Studios’ WHAT IF…? exclusively on Disney+. (©Marvel Studios 2020)

For instance, as a Peggy Carter stan, you cannot imagine how hyped I was to see Peggy wield her own shield and kick some Hydra ass. It’s always been clear that Peggy played an important role in the MCU, being one of the founders of S.H.I.E.L.D. and tackling more of her own missions in the unfortunately short-lived series Agent Carter, but in terms of her first appearance in Captain America: The First Avenger, audiences who didn’t see her series never quite get to see Peggy living up to all of her potential. As Peggy is someone who knows her value, of course she didn’t hesitate to be injected with the super serum – even if it is something that could have cost her her life.

In an effort to keep things spoiler-free, I cannot say too much about the episodes that focus on T’Challa and Nick Fury, but I will say that they were both excellent. Fast-paced from the very beginning, episodes two and three have a lot going for them in terms of lessons to be learned and not underestimating your opponent(s). There’s also the all-important theme of family that runs through both, creating a nice through-line from episodes one through three.

The Collector and T’Challa/Star-Lord in Marvel Studios’ WHAT IF…? exclusively on Disney+. (©Marvel Studios 2021)

Having the chance to experience all of the characters in the new ways shown in the series is something that I believe will change the MCU. We already know that they are heavily banking on the Multiverse and this is just another way to hone in on that. The new changes to the characters seen in What If…? are most definitely “variants” I’d be interested in seeing in live-action.  Whether we will or not, I suppose time will tell. However, there’s certainly room for them and even more room to explore the vastness of the multiverse through this series and of course, by taking some of the elements and switches of the script to apply it to live-action.

All of these aspects together truly make for one of the best things to come out of the MCU. With every universe being different, it leads to a plethora of untold stories that can make their way into the MCU and I look forward to all the alternate realities that will come along with it. I look forward to seeing more of the time and reality change-ups in future episodes of the show because I for one, simply cannot get over the rich world-building and gorgeous animation style, especially when any of the fight scenes or action sequences come into play.

Superb storytelling coupled with astounding animation make What If…? one of Marvel Studios’ all-around best projects. With multiple twists and turns, impactful action and even moments that will pull at your heartstrings, What If…? is something you surely won’t want to miss.

What If…? starts streaming exclusively on Disney+ on August 11.

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