Marvel’s “What If…?” Series Works For Both MCU Diehards & Casual Fans

The premise of Marvel’s latest Disney+ series, What If…? is catnip for Marvel fans. Narrated by a celestial being called the Watcher (voiced by Jeffrey Wright, no less), the series asks us to consider what might have happened in the Marvel Cinematic Universe had different decisions been made at crucial moments by the characters we have come to know over the last 12-years. Based on a Marvel comic series of the same name (which remixed moments in the comics canon), What If…? promises to give the MCU The Twilight Zone treatment, offering not moral parables starring superheroes by making us look afresh at the choices they made—and didn’t make—and what could have been had they done things differently.

So how is it? Disney+ has released the first three episodes for critics, and the early reactions are positive The most surprising theme in the reviews is that What If…? might actually be the easiest Marvel show on Disney+ for non-diehard MCU fans to enjoy, while simultaneously offering the diehards all those in-jokes and deep cut canon references they love.

Here, then, is a spoiler-free glimpse at what the critics are saying. What If…? premieres on Disney+ on August 11.

Bob Strauss, The San Francisco Chronicle: And when things get crazy — as they do at cosmic scale in each episode so far — an almost Lovecraftian level of fearsome grandeur fills the screen.”

Liz Shannon Miller, Collider: “Core to the three episodes provided to press is the notion that the divergence points of all these alternate realities are created by human choice — a person presented with two options, and picking the alternate one. That they do this without knowing just how seismic a change they’re making speaks to that inevitable truth of being human: consequences are sometimes quite hard to see in the moment.”

Tyler Hersko, IndieWire: “Longtime franchise fans will undeniably get the biggest kick out of the references and in-jokes in the animated anthology series — which questions what would’ve happened at various pivotal moments of the Marvel Cinematic Universe if certain events played out differently — but the self-contained stories aren’t so convoluted they’ll turn off more casual viewers.”

Charles Pulliam-Moore, Gizmodo: Regardless of what goes down with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of MadnessWhat If exists in a space of pure possibility where basically anything could be on the table and explored from a variety of angles. “

Josh Wilding, “An instant animated classic, What If…? delivers world after world of endless possibilities you need to explore, and if what we see from these first three chapters is any indication, Marvel Studios has delivered a mind-bending MCU masterpiece.”

Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies: “What If…? may be animated but at the end of the day, this series is still canon and essential viewing.”

Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geekly: “Marvel’s very own version of the Twilight Zone, What If…? gets dark with some unexpected twists and turns as we dive headfirst into the multiverse.”

More on What If…? check out these stories:

New “What If…?” Featurette Teases The Watcher’s Unparalleled Visibility Into The MCU

New “What If…?” Clip Re-Imagines Peggy Carter as the First Avenger

A New “What If…?” Teaser Reveals Marvel’s Mind-Bending New Disney+ Series

Featured image: T’Challa/Star-Lord in Marvel Studios’ WHAT IF…? exclusively on Disney+. Courtesy Marel Studios.


The Credits

The Credits is an online magazine that tells the story behind the story to celebrate our large and diverse creative community. Focusing on profiles of below-the-line filmmakers, The Credits celebrates the often uncelebrated individuals who are indispensable to the films and TV shows we love.