Marvel is causing a stir with the hit animated show “What if …?” “| Arts + Culture

Marvel fans will tell you this year has been an absolute dream come true. With five TV shows and movie releases, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has made 2021 its bitch. Over the past two months, the blockbuster studio has released what may well be their most ambitious project to date: “What if …”

“What if…” marks several milestones for the MCU. First of all, this is the universe’s first dive into animation. The nine-episode series features digitally created shots, shaded to make it look like they came straight out of the pages of the comics the stories are based on. The show is also the MCU’s first exploration into the multiverse, which seeks to be the direction the entire franchise will head in the future.

Multiverse is a term that Marvel Comics has used since the early 1970s. It refers to the myriad ways events could have played out in the superhero stories we love.

In “What if …” each episode begins with the egg-headed narrator, known as The Watcher, introducing a new timeline into the multiverse, featuring a different take on a familiar Marvel movie. That being said, if you’re one of the last people in the world to avoid seeing a Marvel movie, this show could be a jump.

For fans, the fun never stops. Each of the nine episodes is seemingly unrelated and puts fan favorites in entirely new situations. For example, instead of becoming the Black Panther, T’Challa becomes Star-Lord, and instead of Steve Rogers becoming Captain America, his girlfriend Peggy Carter becomes Captain Britain.

The different stories are loaded with Easter eggs from all 23 movies of the original Infinity Saga, so the more you see, the greater the reward.

Considering the anthology style of the series, some episodes are naturally better than others. The highlight is undoubtedly episode five, which takes its content from the hugely popular comedy storyline, “Marvel Zombies”. The episode shows an alternate universe where the zombie apocalypse has affected the Avengers, and a small group of survivors led by Spider-Man must fight a zombified Iron Man, Captain America, and others. This episode is really scary at times and is the perfect spooky watch for the Halloween season.

The only weakness of the series is that the animation gets pretty bland after a while. The series would have been much more dynamic if each episode had a slightly different animation style, in the vein of Sony’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”. If that was the case, not only would the episodes feel more independent of each other, but the inevitable crossover would have been a real feast for the eyes.

There are a few stories that have been conveniently left out, but don’t worry. An already confirmed second season will hopefully dive into some of the strangest places in the multiverse.

All episodes of “What If…” are now streaming on Disney +, along with the previous 24 MCU entries. Haven’t you seen them? Better start doing your homework. There has never been a better time to be a Marvel fan.

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