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TV Review: ‘What If…?’ Paints A Bold and Riveting Picture For The MCU

Time really does fly by when you’re having fun, as evidenced by the decade-spanning Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). With over twenty-four superhero adventures lining their filmography, it’s clear that the Marvel stories definitely still have an audience, and that was further proven with the release of the three recent MCU shows on Disney+, including Loki, which dealt with the multiverse.

Marvel’s newest adventure, What If…?, an animated series that reimagines some of the franchise’s most iconic moments, also deals with the multiverse to outstanding results. This show asks questions that many Marvel fans have been asking for years including “What if Peggy was actually Captain America?” and “What if T’Challa was actually Star-Lord?”.

It’s nearly impossible not to salivate over the endless possibilities that this show sets up, and thankfully, What If…? delivers on mostly all fronts. The first three episodes of this series are remarkably entertaining, presenting the viewer with various different unique storylines in episodes that fly by. Each episode is a little less than thirty minutes in length, and yet they feel only a few minutes thanks to their entertainment value.

The series features some truly stunning animation, making it quite possibly my favorite animated project since Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Every frame is gorgeously realized and the hand-drawn feel accompanied by the stunning color palette on display makes each episode pop significantly.

Going for the animated route was perhaps the best idea, as it would’ve been a little hard to make some of these stories come to life in live-action. It feels like the MCU equivalent of The Twilight Zone in many ways, with each episode being its own self-contained storyline that has a clear beginning, middle, and end. But as soon as an episode ends, you’ll be craving more.

Aside from the hugely impressive animation style, the series also features an all-star voice cast who all deliver their A-game when it comes to portraying their respective character. Jeffrey Wright is introduced into the MCU as the voice of The Watcher; a mysterious all-knowing being who presides over the multiverse and narrates the series.

Wright was the perfect choice to voice this audacious and sometimes chilling character. Nothing The Watcher does is outright menacing, but his voice and demanding presence makes him a character to remember.

A large number of fan-favorite MCU actors reprise their roles here albeit in a vocal form such as Jaimie Alexander as Lady Sif and Josh Brolin as Thanos which is sure to be a delight to many fans, although some may be disappointed to learn that not every actor associated with their respective Marvel character returns here.

Scarlett Johansson does not voice Natasha Romanoff here, but rather Lake Bell, who does a terrific job in the role although it’s definitely going to put some fans on-edge which is understandable. But fear not, because even though some characters aren’t voiced by their iconic actor, their characters are still loads of fun to watch on-screen.

Natasha and Tony Stark star in the third episode of the series which is easily the best and most riveting of the initial three. It’s kind of a cat-and-mouse episode and while it’s familiar at times (as is some of the show’s story beats), it’s nevertheless fun to watch beloved characters share the screen together one more time.

But AC Bradley did a magnificent job at penning the scripts for this series. It takes a clever individual to come up with all of these bold and awe-inspiring ideas and Bradley most definitely rose to the occasion. Although some episodes aren’t as entertaining as others, there’s still plenty of moments that fans will love. Bryan Andrews directed the show and he also did a splendid job at bringing all of these groundbreaking ideas to life.

And Laura Karpman‘s score should not be glossed over either. Full of exciting notes that harken back to previous MCU journies while also standing tall on its own, this score is one that will get you both excited and sometimes emotional. It’s a great score for a great series.

What If…? may have some flaws with its traditional storytelling beats but it’s nevertheless a daring and imaginative new entry for the MCU and one that holds a ton of promise. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or a newcomer, this show has a bit of something for everybody.

SCORE: ★★★

Caillou Pettis is a professional film critic and has been writing about film for several years across various different publications. Ever since the age of nine, film and the art of filmmaking have been his number one passion. When hes

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Written by Caillou Pettis

Caillou Pettis is a professional film critic and has been writing about film for several years across various different publications. Ever since the age of nine, film and the art of filmmaking have been his number one passion. When hes

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