6 Thoughts on the First Season of What If…?
The Marvel TV machine is still pumping on all cylinders as we wrap up the first season of What If…? and prepare for Hawkeye next month. I’ve always been a big fan of the What If…? comic book series and its core premise, and I thought turning that into an anthology cartoon series with a focus on the Marvel Cinematic Universe was a great idea! I love how varied these Marvel Studios TV shows have been, and What If…? was a fine choice.
TV Show Rating: 7/10 – Good.
I liked What If…? just fine. It was an enjoyable show with some fun ideas. The original comic was before my time, but I read a couple issues here and there and enjoyed the concept overall. I think the TV show did a great job adapting the concept to the MCU, and it was a hoot that they were able to use so much of the actual movie cast. I don’t necessarily think that was to the show’s benefit every time…but What If…? was a fun cartoon nonetheless.
Join me after the jump for my thoughts on review on the first season of What If…? Expect FULL SPOILERS for the whole season! And feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments.
6. It’s just a fun little show
In the end, I don’t think What If…? is anything grand. It wasn’t as big or as impressive or as awesome as the live action shows like WandaVision or The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. What If…? was just a fun little show, a neat idea adapted into a neat cartoon. It wasn’t some lynchpin of the future of the MCU and I didn’t need it to be. I just had a fun time watching a new cartoon starring Marvel characters. The animation was phenomenal, in my opinion. That first episode, with Captain Carter, blew me away with the action animation. They really put their best foot forward when it came to action and excitement. The fight scenes were gorgeous, and the stunts and action was beyond anything the movies can deliver. That scene where she’s jumping from airplane to airplane taking out the goons inside? A work of pure art. I don’t know if the show as a whole lived up to those first beautiful action scenes, but writing and animation came together splendidly for a fun little show. Marvel Studios is smart to diversify and What If…? is a great avenue for that.
5. My favorite episodes were Star-Lord T’Challa and Party Thor
I generally liked all of the What If…? episodes. I felt some were flatter and less interesting than others, to be sure, but they were all generally fine. My favorite episodes were What If…T’challa Became a Star-Lord and What If…Thor Were an Only Child. I felt the show got really creative with Star-Lord T’Challa’s world, from Nebulla as a sexy blonde triple agent to a reformed Thanos as the team’s muscle. It was a hoot and a half! I loved the heist, I loved Chadwick Boseman’s ease at being this new T’Challa, I loved the happy ending; it was a complete package. And then the party Thor episode was hilarious. I very much enjoyed how a string of real downer episodes was followed with one of pure comedy. It maybe wasn’t the sharpest or wittiest comedy around, but the Party Thor episode was a real blast. The cameos were excellent, the wrap up was delightful and I’m glad the show went for such a wild and comedic take.
4. Voice acting was mostly fine
Honestly, not all of the Hollywood actors made for great voice actors. I’m sure anybody in the industry will tell you that physical acting and voice acting are two very different things, and not all of the MCU actors were prepared for voice acting. Simple as that. As much fun as it was to have the actors back, not getting them to play their characters would not have been a deal breaker for me. I don’t think it makes or breaks the show. Marvel would have done just fine with voice actors on What If…? Maybe it wouldn’t have been as exciting for some people, but at least Marvel would avoid the constant comparisons between actors who did return and those who didn’t, and whether or not they were even asked to return in the first place.
3. I liked the eventual serialization
As we all know, the first season ended by bringing together a bunch of characters introduced throughout the season in order to team up and stop a big threat. Some people did not like how the previously stand alone episodes came together for a crossover, as if Marvel is forever cursed to tell connected stories. Well, I have zero problem with the crossover and the serialization of What If…?. It seemed like a really cool way to end the season to me. Granted, I think Marvel would have been fine without the crossover. Maybe save it for several seasons down the line, when you’ve got an even bigger cast of characters to team up. But who knows how many seasons they will get? Why not swing for the fences for the finale? It was a fun use of the characters and a fun way to end the season with something special.
2. I don’t need a return to these worlds in season 2
Another idea I’ve been seeing floating around the chatosphere is a possible return to these characters and worlds in season 2. I definitely do not need that. I would be open to the idea of future team-ups involving these characters again, but I do not need actual sequel episodes that follow-up the stories and worlds from season 1. Like, I do not need to see how Alternate Black Widow does in the world where Hank Pym killed the Avengers. I do not need to see the continuing adventures of Party Thor, or how Pepper Potts and Shuri clean up their Wakanda after Killmonger was teleported away. Season 2 should be spent on whole new worlds and whole new questions of What If…?.
1. Bring on the live action appearances!
Rumors have already started swirling that Marvel will bring some of the What If…? characters into the live action movies or shows. I am 100% on board with this idea, with a single caveat: don’t expect too much from them. What If…? is a niche show. I don’t think it was as much appointment viewing as, say, WandaVision or Loki. So while people will expect those shows to impact those characters moving forward, I don’t think any of these What If…? variants should have much of an impact on the movies. Like, I would love to see a cameo from Captain Carter in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, but don’t act like everybody in the theater will know about her and her episode. The concept alone should be enough. Likewise, if Strange Supreme shows up in Multiverse of Madness, just treat him like an evil, variant Doctor Strange. Don’t lean heavily into his What If…? continuity.
Beyond that caveat, I say have fun! Live action Marvel Zombies? Sure! Captain Carter in Multiverse of Madness? Hot diggity dog! Have fun with it.