Not simply content with dominating the theatrical box office, the Disney owned Marvel Studios has slowly released information over the last few months about potential new mini-series that exist within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (the MCU) that would play exclusively on Disney’s yet-unreleased new streaming service Disney+.
Reports from September and October of 2018 seemed to hint at specific series designed around fan-favorite characters like Falcon (who is presumed to be teamed up with Bucky “The Winter Soldier” Barnes), Scarlet Witch (with Vision possibly in tow) and, more solidly confirmed, Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston.
The news has been well received especially as more and more details come out that solidify these concepts as facts and not just fantasy. And since Marvel Studios’ head honcho himself, freshly minted Oscar nominee Kevin Feige, would be in charge of the whole thing, it gives fans faith that we’d be getting something along the lines of a spin-off MCU film itself and not season four of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..
Adding more fan drooling to the mix is Disney/Marvel Studios recent news that an animated series based on Marvel’s fun, episodic What If…? comic book series would be added as Marvel programming to Disney+. Reported exclusively by Slash Film, Kevin Feige would oversee the program that would posit “What If” scenarios of famous MCU events (i.e. the twenty-one films and counting that have so far come out). Since these aren’t actual things that happened, these stories would certainly be fun and intriguing but decidedly not canon.
For those who don’t know, What If…? was a monthly series published off and on from the ’70s to the ’90s (and then randomly in the ’00s and ’10s) that asked “What If” questions about famous comic book lore and showed what might have happened. Some are clearly classic alternate tales (“What If…Gwen Stacy Had Lived” or “What If…Doctor Doom Had Become a Hero”) while some are just frickin’ weird (“What If…The Invisible Girl Died in Childbirth” or “What if…J. Jonah Jameson had adopted Spider-Man”).
The concept, of course, is a staple of many genres. Star Trek had its mirror universe, there is a whole genre of alternative science-fiction, and even other comics companies have examined the subject. DC Comics’ Elseworlds imprint, for example, often does larger versions of Marvel’s “What If…?”, such as their graphic novel Red Son, written by Mark Millar, which shows the Superman origin story if he was raised in the USSR, and not the USA.
So, with twenty-one films in its established canon (with two more due out in April and July of 2019), the MCU has plenty of fodder for a streaming series of multiple episodes to use. Despite this though, only one “What If…” story is on the docket at this time. Also per Slash Film, “What If…?” #47 (the final issue of its first volume), titled ” What If…Loki Had Found the Hammer of Thor” would be adapted, likely utilizing Tom Hiddleston for Loki’s voice.
A lot of the What If…? material, of course, depends on the results of the film Avengers: Endgame, so more news might be revealed a little bit after that film is released and revealing spoilers will only get you maimed and not simply killed.
I personally would love a series of “What If…?” mainly because, just like the comics, it is our inevitable need as humans to want to see what might have been. I was hoping, and maybe anticipated, something like this from Marvel Studios since the MCU is such a well-oiled and still successful machine constantly pushing its own creative boundaries. But I thought they might adapt Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross’ Marvels instead, showing what happened in the MCU films from the perspective of everyday people but I now think that might be too self-indulgent. “What If…?” at least allows you to tell a different story that won’t mess with on-going continuity.
For MCU fanatics like myself, this news is only making us want to pay for the streaming service even more as we look to quench our MCU thirst. I’m sure the Mouse House is reading this and smiling. They get subscribers and we get content—it’s a win-win! But, What If…Disney never bought Marvel…