Loki just got finished showing us how complicated Marvel’s multiverse can get, and now the MCU is set to really mix things up with the much-anticipated series premiere of Marvel's What If…? at Disney+. The show may mark Marvel’s first animated entry into the streamer’s current MCU lineup — but it turns out it’ll be getting some additional animated company in the years ahead, according to the show's executive producer.
Just as What If…? kicked off its crossed-up, alternate-universe superhero storylines on Wednesday at Disney+, series EP Brad Winderbaum (Black Widow) revealed to Variety that the show is only the first of ‘multiple’ animated Marvel projects planned to make their debuts at the streaming platform.
Additional Marvel Studios animated projects already are “in various phases of development,” at Disney+, said Winderbaum, including a previously-announced second season of What If…? alongside a series of planned “photo-real” Marvel animated shorts that follow the adventures of Baby Groot. Though he didn’t name any additional animated series that could be in the works, Winderbaum indicated that no feature-length animated projects are planned for the small screen. Disney+ is a place, at least for now, where Marvel can instead take a more episodic approach with its animated MCU content, he said.
“We realized that there’s a lot of cool avenues you can explore with animation,” he explained, adding that Marvel is treating its animated Disney+ adventures as unique avenues for telling stories that won’t duplicate what fans see in theaters. “Any project that we create is going to be something that needs to be animated in order for the story to be told. There’s very little desire to take a piece of IP that’s popular because we’re coming out with a movie and just make an animated show about it. We’re not going to do that,” he said.
What If…? does just what its name suggests, taking familiar Marvel heroes and swapping out their storylines with fresh alt-history takes never before explored onscreen (like Peggy Carter swapping places with Steve Rogers to assume the serum-infused role of Captain America). It’s fully-sanctioned revisionist history, the kind that reimagines comic book stories in fresh new ways — but, as head series writer writer A.C. Bradley recently told SYFY WIRE, it also takes Marvel’s plans for mainline MCU screen lore very seriously.
“Oh, because we accidentally walked into one of the movies? That was the first month on the show,” said Bradley when asked whether the What If…? creators had encountered resistance from Marvel in exploring potentially revealing new storylines. “…Actually, Brad Winderbaum joked... when I pitched the show, I pitched about three or four sample episodes, and Brad called me up. He said, ‘You're getting the job basically because you walked into half of our development slate.’”
Does that mean What If…? could even contain clues about where the MCU multiverse might officially be headed? Director Bryan Andrews recently told The Playlist that Marvel likely knows the answer — even if the show's creative team doesn’t (or, perhaps, is just sworn to secrecy). “It’ll be interesting to see, once [What If…?] comes out, what the big minds up top have in store and where cross-pollinations may or may not happen,” he said. “We have no idea where they want to go with it. We know that they know, but we don’t know yet.”
If fan speculation reached feverish levels near the end of the MCU’s universe-threatening Phase 3 and the time-twisting events of Avengers: Endgame, we can only imagine what kind of theories an entire Marvel multiverse will inspire. Catch new episodes of What If…? each Wednesday at Disney+, beginning with today’s Peggy Carter-themed series premiere.