Vital Thrills got a chance to join the virtual press conference for Marvel’s What If…? this week. Joining were executive producer Brad Winderbaum, head writer A.C. Bradley, director Brian Andrews and Jeffrey Wright, who voices The Watcher.
We learned all about the show, the Marvel zombies from the trailer and some secrets that fans are going to see. We even found out one character that will continue into the second season of Marvel’s What If…?.
The new series features signature MCU action with a curious twist. Marvel Studios’ first-ever animated series launches on Disney+ on Wednesday, August 11.
Winderbaum said that the entire thing started during a text session with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige while Winderbaum was in his driveway. “By the next day, the wheels were in motion and we were on our way to making this thing.
“I think it was obvious from the beginning that it needed to be animated, because of all the locations and sets and characters, and elements from the MCU… it had to kind of be in a medium that would allow us an infinite scope of whatever we could conceive of.”
Wright plays Uatu the Watcher and told us, “…[he’s] described in his first appearance in Marvel Comics – I think it was in 1963 – something like the most dramatic being in all the known universe.” He laughed, “So he’s a fairly dramatic guy. He’s a fairly powerful guy.
“He’s kind of overseeing the entire MCU. He’s overseeing the multiverses and he plays somewhat of a Rod Serling role here. Kind of narrating, kind of not – in some ways, as maybe the biggest Marvel fan there is, watching all that transpires and dealing with certain temptations to involve himself.”
The actor added: “But at the same time, just kind of living vicariously through these characters, these stories, this mythology, and taking it all in. He’s got probably the highest cable bill that you can possibly imagine… I think the fans can relate to him in many ways.”
Andrews said that it was important to everyone from the beginning that this be an anthology, “just like those Twilight Zone episodes back in the day.” He said, “You never know what you’re going to get, you know. You might get an episode that’s a comedy, you might get an episode that’s kind of dramatic and serious, like super emotional, full of action, and all of us… we all love cinema. We all love movies – we love everything in it, all the genres, and this gave us an opportunity to apply a little taste of a variety of genres into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.”
Bradley spoke about deciding what stories to use from Marvel’s vast history to create episodes. She said, “To be honest with you, when it came to creating an episode, figuring out the story of What If…?, the last thing we thought about was the what if. I think that what we all looked for was the heart behind the hero.
“How do we get behind the shield? What’s a part of the story we haven’t told before? For me, these characters are iconic. We recognize their silhouettes. We recognize their tag lines. But what’s important is how we connect to them. So it was finding new ways to connect to Peggy Carter, to Thor Odinson, to Doctor Strange, and luckily we have The Watcher to be our guide, because he, too, is looking for a connection.”
Andrews was asked about characters continuing after their initial episode. He said, “We realized early on in development, as we were starting to get to A.C.’s scripts, and starting to look at the arc of the series, that there was going to be a character that bubbled up and became important. Not more important than the rest, but had a strong relationship with The Watcher, who is really the driving force behind the series, and that’s Captain Carter.
“We realized, as we started developing the second season, that Captain Carter was going to be the character we would revisit in every season, and continue that adventure. Obviously we’re telling a story on a giant, multiversal canvas, so you really never know who’s going to pop up and where and when. It’s very much an anthology, but there’s always an opportunity for fun connections to be made.”
In terms of the timing of Marvel’s What If…?, Andrews said, “It’s no coincidence that this show picks up right after Loki. Spoiler alert, but the multiverse has now erupted in every possible direction, and What If…? gives us a chance to explore that. And I think you can tell that in this next saga, the multiverse is going to be crucial.”
So, will the events of Marvel’s What If…? echo into the MCU? Winderbaum said, “Yeah, I mean, I think that, without going into great detail, I can tell you that What If…? as a project, as a story that exists in the MCU is, you know, as important as any other. It’s woven into that same tapestry, so those fun threads are going to be – there’s a lot of potential there.”
Bradley talked about the Marvel Zombies you see in the trailer, saying, “Marvel Zombies was, I think I might have mentioned it early on, as a what if we did this kind of pie in the sky throwaway. Not thinking, at first, that there was actually a very famous run, and then Brad was excited and Kevin kind of surprised us by being like, ‘Yeah, no, you’re doing Marvel Zombies.’
“The fun part of Marvel Zombies, at least for me, was to delve into that initial run, and probably more than any other What If…? episode, we drew directly from the comic for inspiration and for actual pieces, like scenes, because it is so good, and less from the movies.”