What If...? is an animated superhero Anthology series created for Disney+ by A.C. Bradley (Tales of Arcadia), based on the Marvel Comics title of the same name. The series will be the 28th installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the 5th installment of Phase 4, the 4th series to be produced for Disney+, and the first animated series set in the universe.
Like the comic book it's based on (which named the trope that shares its name), What If...? explores how the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe would've been impacted if certain events happened differently, while omniscient narrator Uatu (voiced by Jeffrey Wright) occasionally weighs in on what he's observing.
Some confirmed hypothetical outcomes seen in the series include Peggy Carter becoming a super-soldier instead of Steve Rogers, T'Challa becoming Star-Lord instead of Peter Quill, and a Zombie Apocalypse set within the MCU. In addition to Wright as Uatu, the series will feature voice acting from the same actors of the films (including Hayley Atwell and the late Chadwick Boseman in his final MCU contribution).
While there were many animated series based on Marvel Comics before, What If...? is the first animated title produced by Marvel Studios, and is among the first series to be developed by them for Disney+. The first season will debut in August 2021, and a second season has already been ordered.
What If...? contains examples of:
- All-CGI Cartoon: As seen in the first reveal trailer, the series will be presented in Cel Shaded 3DCG animation provided by Squeeze Studio.
- Amazonian Beauty: The scene from Captain America: The First Avenger where the chamber opens to show a newly super-soldiered Steve Rogers appears in the trailer, but this time, instead of Steve, it's Peggy. Who still looks beautiful and buff◊. She is then seen pushing a truck above her head with the shield.
- Alternate Universe: The first trailer shows moments from various alternate universes in the MCU, from one where Yondu picked up T'Challa as a child instead of Peter Quill to one where Peggy Carter took the super-soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers.
- Call-Back: The Exclusive First Look trailer shows us an animated recreation of a hungover Tony Stark eating donuts from Iron Man 2.
- Celestial Body: In the first trailer, the Watcher's body looks as if it's made of stars.
- Character Narrator: The Watcher narrates the trailer, explaining the multiverse as a "prism of endless possibility."
- Evil Doppelgänger: Dr. Strange fights a hostile version of himself in the trailer.
- Ink-Suit Actor: The cel-shaded animation style is used to make the characters look like the actors who portray them. This was confirmed not just by the trailer, but by an Entertainment Weekly article expounding on how many MCU actors were going to be in the show.
- Mini-Mecha: Super Soldier Peggy Carter is seen riding a big Powered Armor similar to both Tony Stark's Mark I armor and the Iron Monger armor in the trailer. It is piloted by the short and still-skinny Steve Rogers.
- Our Zombies Are Different: One scene in the trailer shows a long-haired Bucky confronting a zombified Steve Rogers on a moving train.
- Questioning Title?: Which it shares with the comic it's based on.
- Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: One of the quick cut scenes in the trailer shows post-serum Peggy and still-skinny Steve leaning towards one another as if to kiss.
- Title Drop: At the end of the first trailer, the Watcher says, "Follow me and dare to face the unknown... and ponder the question... What if...?"
- What If?: Well, duh. The premise hinges on alternate takes on existing MCU stories and their characters.