REVIEW: Marvel's new animated series "What If …?" expertly explores the multiverse – UNM Daily Lobo

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Wednesday October 20th, 2021
A still from the new animated series Marvel’s “What If…?” Photo courtesy of IMDb
Marvel’s “What If …?” is an expertly crafted animated series by Disney that delves into separate alternate timelines in the multiverse, where even a small difference changes the stories we know and love. The multiverse is a more recently broached topic in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it’s shaping up to be the main topic of phase four of the MCU.
After very few Marvel cinematic productions in 2020, Marvel Studios decided to feed its fan base this year with new releases monthly, starting phase four of the MCU with the release of Disney+ series “WandaVision,” which started Marvel’s new trend of featuring superheroes and villains in TV series. This, of course, led to our beloved “What If…?” which crafts a unique storyline that draws fans in from beginning to end. 
The show’s pivotal character is the Watcher, whose role is to oversee the multiverse and its infinite timelines but to never interfere. We get an in-depth look with the Watcher as he narrates the show, usually giving away his own thoughts and feelings on each story. While it is clear he cares about the timelines, I was left conflicted over his character as I watched him let my favorite heroes fail time and time again. This was particularly difficult to see since he knows that even when it seems like the heroes have succeeded, there is more failure in their future and he does nothing to warn them.
It is easy to both sympathize and hold a grudge against the Watcher because, although it’s clear he loves those in each timeline, he refuses to break his oath to save anyone until the very end when the whole multiverse is in danger. The show wraps up with the Watcher being forced to break his oath by assembling a team with characters from the show that he dubs “Guardians of the Multiverse.” This team fights in an action-packed ending, which is open-ended enough to leave fans hoping for a future season. 
The second episode in the series stands out above the rest, largely due to the late Chadwick Boseman. In “What If … T’Challa Became a Star Lord?” Boseman voices T’Challa in his final appearance in the MCU, resulting in a heart-gripping wrench of emotions.
I was delighted to hear other major actors also reprise their roles in various episodes, and Tom Hiddleston was particularly skillful.
Another aspect of the show that stood out was the animation; the show features stunning scenes. The color and lighting of each animated scene makes fans feel like they are in the episode. Some scenes, like Doctor Strange using his enhanced powers or Hawkeye falling into a room filled with robots, are truly breathtaking. All of this proves that Marvel Studios can do more than just produce live-action films.
When I first saw that Marvel was releasing an animated show, I thought it was going to be very childish, but I was quickly proven wrong. This show can easily be enjoyed by adult fans without the animation being a downside. In fact, it’s extremely beneficial for multiple reasons, such as it allows for more creative freedom. There are no limits on locations, magic usage or fights as the animation gives the creators a chance to have whatever they want come to life. This freedom has led to multiple beautiful locations, amazing and uninhibited magic usage, and stellar fights.
The show also works well for viewers who may not be the biggest MCU fans or haven’t seen many of the movies. “What If…?” requires very little knowledge of previous MCU productions, and includes several episodes that are enjoyable for fans and nonfans alike.
One episode that stands out in this regard is “What If … Zombies?” which paints the unique but painful idea of if the MCU world fell to zombies, which includes the devastating fall of our mightiest heroes, the Avengers. Another episode takes a hard right turn from its tear-jerking predecessor with “What If … Thor was an Only Child?” which is filled to the brim with spots for belly laughs and tears of joy. But don’t stop there — the entire series is worth taking the time to watch.
All in all, “What If…?” was another smash hit for Marvel Studios, who are proving themselves in terms of television as they keep churning out shows. Marvel’s latest releases leave fans clamoring for more and excited for what’s to come.
Elizabeth Secor is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter @DailyLobo 
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