The first episode of Marvel Studios’ latest anthology series, What If…?, released earlier this week on Disney+. You can check out my initial thoughts on the first episode below. Be warned – spoilers after the break!
After the releases of three Marvel television series earlier this year (WandaVision, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier and Loki), August marks the release of What If…?, a series exploring alternate timelines in the multiverse that show what would happen if major moments within the MCU occurred differently. Episode 1 explores what would happen if Captain Carter was the first Avenger.
The majority of the voice actors within the series are many of the MCU film actors who actually reprise their roles from the films. Whilst there are a few notable exemptions, namely Chris Evans as Steve Rodgers/Captain America and Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man, I was pleasantly surprised with the ‘stand ins’ for some of the key characters in Episode 1. I was particularly impressed with Josh Keaton who voiced Skinny Steve Rodgers/Hydra Stomper, I thought his voice was near identical to that of Chris Evans’ Steve Rodgers and it felt seamless throughout.
The show is also Marvel Studios’ first animated series and I really enjoyed the comic book style animation which it has adopted thus far. The animation, combined with the musical score and the voice acting, made the first episode feel nicely polished and well rounded. I also liked that despite What If…? being a major step in a new direction for Marvel, the first episode still retained a lot of those typical Marvel characteristics we know and love, like witty gags and various Marvel Comics references. With each episode essentially being an alternative storyline to the narratives we’ve already seen before in the MCU, there’s a sense of familiarity to the episode which made Episode 1’s 30-minute run time feel just about right.
Undoubtedly What If…?’s biggest draw is the alternate storyline approach to a classic Marvel narrative which we’ve seen previously. Episode 1 of What If…? does explore a slightly different plot to what we saw in Captain America: The First Avenger, however I felt it didn’t really delve too deep into alternate outcomes. For the most part, Episode 1 felt much more like a condensed story of The First Avenger, just with a female protagonist leading the way. Whilst I did enjoy the episode, the plot wasn’t particularly mind-blowing or quite as ambitious as I thought it could have been. However, I do appreciate this was probably one of the more restricted storylines Marvel had to play with, so I’m hoping future narratives offer a little more originality!
All in all, there’s a lot to like about What If…?’s opening episode. It comic book style animation fits the bill perfectly and its anthropological approach offers unlimited possibilities for the numerous storylines within the MCU! Whilst Episode 1 plays it a little safe, it’s a great building block for what’s going to be a fun series!
What If…? is available to stream on Disney+, with new episodes releasing every Wednesday.