How important is What If…? to Marvel’s future plans?
The upcoming animated series will introduce audiences to a series of alternate realities, reinterpreting versions of familiar Marvel Cinematic Universe moments. In one history, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) was given the super-soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers (Chris Evans); in another, heroes like Captain America become zombies. The series is said to be disconnected from stories in the prime MCU reality, and most fans assume nothing in What If…? will impact future MCU titles.
But what if (see what we did there?) that’s not actually the case? What if What If...? will actually help set up a major moment in a future MCU title — even one as major as Avengers 5?
Marvel’s Rod Serling — What If…? will be narrated by Uatu the Watcher (voiced by Jeffrey Wright), a cosmic being committed to watching over the events of Marvel’s Multiverse. Fans have known about Uatu’s role in the series for some time, but recent comments from Wright indicate Uatu may be more than a passive observer.
In an interview featured in the Summer 2021 issue of Disney’s D23 Magazine (via The Direct), Wright teased that Uatu “starts off as an observer” in What If…? Season 1, but “gradually becomes more compelled by what he watches."
The actor also teased possibilities for future What If…? stories in the MCU, saying:
“There are infinite possibilities with this series within the MCU. I'm open to all of it. One thing I think we're realizing with Marvel and Kevin Feige's leadership is that these are broad, broad canvasses they're painting on. I don't even try to anticipate, so I'm just open to all of it - as The Watcher would be."
The Watcher in the MCU — Wright’s comments suggest that The Watcher will take a more active role in controlling the events of What If…? than his title suggests. If that’s the case, it begs the question: Will Uatu ever step in on humanity’s behalf in another future Marvel film or series?
Currently, there’s ample evidence Uatu could do just that. In the comics, the character has a reputation for breaking the Watchers’ pact of non-interference, and certain storylines have seen him leap into action to help humanity defeat powerful cosmic beings like Galactus and Kang the Conqueror. Notably, both of those characters have been rumored to appear as the main villain in Avengers 5, and fans already know that Kang is coming to the MCU soon.
Given his comic-book history with Galactus and Kang, it wouldn’t be all that strange for Uatu to actively hinder the efforts of either villain in Avengers 5 – or another future MCU crossover. Such actions would be in keeping with both his personality and perspective — especially if he’s already going to break his code in What If…?
The Inverse Analysis — One (admittedly sketchy) rumor has been circulating online, claiming that What If…? will set up the use of a Marvel Zombies storyline in Loki Season 2. While that rumor seems pretty suspect, it’s worth noting in relation to Wright’s comments. Maybe What If…? really will be woven more closely into the future of the MCU than Marvel wants us to believe.
What If… ? will premiere on Disney+ in August 2021.