“The Watcher always appears when things get really important and scary.”
'What If' producer reveals how The Watcher can influence the MCU [Exclusive]
It’s not a matter of if, but when.
The trailer for What If...? made a lot of promises. T’Challa as Star-Lord! Captain Carter! Zombie Avengers!
One key element tying these hypotheticals together is Jeffrey Wright’s the Watcher, an enigmatic figure previously reported to serve as a narrator for the series while keeping an eye on all its disparate worlds.
However, that won’t be the only role the Watcher serves in the series. Exclusively to Inverse, the executive producer of What If...? has revealed how this character’s role will mirror the original comics.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Watcher, elsewhere known as Uatu the Watcher, here’s a quick primer on his 50+ year-long career in Marvel Comics.
Uatu first appeared in an issue of The Fantastic Four all the way back in 1963. He’s part of an ancient race of aliens sworn to merely observe events as they occur, never intervening to alter outcomes.
That said... Uatu does intervene. Quite often. In fact, decades later, the comics acknowledged this rebellious side of Uatu by having him stand trial for crimes committed against the Watcher’s oath. What If...? executive producer Brad Winderbaum explains that this flaw will be reflected in the series.
“The Watcher always appears when things get really important and scary,” Winderbaum tells Inverse. “Whenever he appears in the comics or just in the background and characters notice them, they're like, ‘Now we know this is like really serious.’”
Adds Winderbaum: “One of the running jokes of the Watcher is that he doesn't intervene. That's his whole bag. He just observes; he's taken an oath. He has certain reasons for it.”
However, in keeping with the comics, this oath isn’t totally unbreakable.
“As comic fans know, he inevitably does intervene,” Winderbaum says. “I don't want to talk about the specifics. I can say the Watcher is very much a three-dimensional character and that he might be an all-powerful deity, but his heart is very human.”
Combined with the recent announcement that the Peggy Carter variant Captain Carter will appear in multiple episodes of What If...? and interact with the Watcher, Winderbaum’s quotes suggest the Disney+ animated series will be more than just an anthology experiment poking around hypothetical scenarios.
Instead, the Watcher’s unpredictable, autonomous nature might turn What If...? into the kind of comic-book story that will change the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it. (And if viewers encounter a few Marvel zombies along the way, even better.)
What If...? premieres on Disney+ August 11.