A Marvel 'What If?' Series on Disney+ Could Kill All Your Favorite Heroes

Marvel is about to kill off all of your favorite heroes. Or, at least, you can expect that to happen, if the latest rumor involving Marvel’s newest show coming to Disney’s streaming service, Disney+ is to be believed.

On Tuesday, Slashfilm reported that Marvel Studios may produce an animated series based on its cult comic book series What If? for Disney+, which is expected to debut in late 2019.

The series will be produced by Marvel Studios under Kevin Feige, and actors from the Marvel Cinematic Universe may reprise their roles (an animated series is a less-severe commitment than live-action appearances). But the series itself is not expected to share continuity with the MCU, which only makes sense given the show’s speculative nature.

The inspiration for this new series is Marvel’s What If?, an anthology comic book series that explored alternate universes where major Marvel storylines, origin stories, and other things happened differently. Because these scenarios are sometimes bleak, they often result in all the characters getting killed.

For example: What if Spider-Man joined the Fantastic Four? (What If? #1) What if Captain America hadn’t vanished after World War II? (What If? #5) What if the X-Men died on Krakoa? (What If? Vol. 2, #9) What if Jessica Jones joined the Avengers? (A one-shot from 2004.) All these questions, and many more, were explored in stand-alone issues of What If, which has been in publication on and off since 1977, with the most recent volume released throughout 2018.

Marvel What If Disney+
Marvel's 'What If?' comics explored alternate timelines where major storylines, origin stories, and other events in the Marvel Universe happened differently. They sometimes ended with everyone dying. The show is rumored to become a new animated series on Disney+. Above, the first issue of 'What If?' explored what would have happened if Spider-Man joined the Fantastic Four.

As it stands, Marvel’s What If? could very well be Marvel’s first animated anthology series. By exploring alternate storylines in their own dedicated episodes, the stories could be self-contained and even experimental, just as the What If? comics were. (The comics sometimes broke the fourth wall, putting creators like Jack Kirby and Stan Lee as characters in the stories themselves.)

Slashfilm only confirmed one episode for the series, which will adapt What If? #47, a story explores Loki being worthy of wielding Thor’s magic hammer, Mjolnir. It is unknown what other stories will make up Disney+’s What If?, and if they will be inspired at all by the comics.

A show like What If? demonstrates the creative possibilities that exist outside conventional TV. It’s a perfect fit for a streaming platform; it ropes in existing fans (especially those who know exactly what What If? is without someone like me needing to explain it) without alienating a wider audience who aren’t even tuned into broadcast anymore anyway.

It remains to be seen what comes of What If. Disney+, which is already producing blockbuster original programming such as The Mandalorian and a Loki series starring Tom Hiddleston, has yet to announce a definitive launch date. Disney CEO Bob Iger has only said that the service will launch in “late 2019,” and it will include all of Disney’s movie library.

There is no release date for Marvel’s What If?, because for now, it is only a rumor.

Media via Marvel Entertainment