In the midst of unveiling their Phase 4 lineup at San Diego Comic Con 2019, Marvel Studios revealed one of their most unique projects to date - What If…?, the first ever animated series set within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Borrowing a page - and a title - from a classic Marvel Comics series that has been around since the '70s, What If…? takes a look at alternative outcomes and timelines to show what might have been, had continuity and characters gone in a different direction.
Traditionally, Marvel What If…? stories center around a particular question, usually posed by the all-seeing Uatu the Watcher - voiced by Jeffrey Wright in the Disney+ streaming series. These tales may be set outside of continuity, but they’re always based on the real events and happenings of Marvel Comics - only with different twists of fate applied. The MCU version of What If…? is sure to be no different - and that means that fans will soon be seeing their favorite heroes and villains in some wild hypothetical situations.
1. What If…Thor Was Raised By The Frost Giants?
Loki Laufeyson was adopted by Odin after the Allfather defeated the King of the Frost Giants in battle - but What If? Thor Vol. 1 #1 posits a timeline in which the fight goes in the opposite direction, and young Thor ends up being raised by Laufey.
As in mainstream continuity, Thor’s adoptive brother Loki becomes jealous of their father’s high esteem for Thor - who fits right in with the Frost Giants’ warrior culture. The tale ends in tragedy when Thor unwittingly slays his own mother in a conflict with Asgard - giving this plot the sort of Shakespearean flair that would make for a compelling episode of What If…?Do you want to see the MCU version?
2. What If…Aunt May Had Perished Instead Of Uncle Ben?
Any comic book entitled What If…Aunt May Had Died Instead Of Uncle Ben? Vol 1. #1 is bound to be sad - but the issue manages to heap on several additional layers of tragedy beyond the title’s premise. When Peter Parker’s Aunt May is taken out by a burglar, Parker changes into his Spider-Man duds and ends the man in revenge - prompting his Uncle Ben to confess to the deed and receive time behind bars in lieu of his nephew.
Without either Aunt May or Uncle Ben to guide him, Spider-Man grows up bitter and angry - eventually spending time in juvenile detention. He goes on to use his powers in an attempt to break his uncle out of the slammer - only for Ben to refuse the offer and inspire Peter to turn his life around with one of his famous motivational speeches. The backstory of Uncle Ben has yet to be explored in the Marvel Cinematic Universe - and this would certainly make for a unique method of doing so.Do you want to see the MCU version?
3. What If…Captain America Led All The Heroes Against Registration?
There are few major events that occur in both the canon of Marvel Comics and the Marvel Cinematic Universe - but the superheroic Civil War is one of them, and What If? Civil War Vol. 1 #1 imagines a world in which the conflict went very differently.
The storyline centers around the premature passing of Tony Stark, which leads to the vast majority of superheroes banding behind Captain America against registration instead of splitting into two factions. The American government strikes back with Sentinels and clones of Thor, resulting in the end of countless heroes - including Cap and Spider-Man - and the emergence of an anti-superhuman regime in the United States.Do you want to see the MCU version?
4. What If…Captain America And Bucky Had Both Survived WWII?
In both Marvel Comics and Marvel Cinematic Universe continuity, it appears as if neither Steve Rogers nor Bucky Barnes survive WWII - but What If? Vol. 1 #5 posits a situation in which they both survive the conflict and continue their adventures in their own original timeline.
The prospect of seeing Captain America and Bucky battle communists in the '50s and '60s is reason enough to adapt this storyline to animated form, but the plot of the issue also stands on its own. In this universe, Rogers ends up as the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. instead of Nick Fury, and Barnes takes over as Captain America - fulfilling the role proudly until he ultimately perishes in combat with Baron Zemo.
As far as What If...? tales go, that almost qualifies as a happy ending.Do you want to see the MCU version?