The Watcher, played by Jeffrey Wright, served as a narrator for the first season of the MCU's first animated series — a role he will seemingly resume in the Marvel show's second season.
What If...? is set to return around Christmas and will feature both new and returning heroes throughout the Marvel Multiverse. But before that, fans can see Wright's Watcher in another Phase 5 project — I Am Groot's second season's finale, as first revealed in the season's trailer.
What Is...? The Watcher Doing in I Am Groot?
Jeffrey Wright's The Watcher made an appearance in the I Am Groot Season 2 finale, marking his first MCU role outside of the What If...? animated series.
He opened the episode, titled "Groot and the Great Prophecy," with narration reminiscent of his What If...? episode introductions. He then introduced Groot as "the chosen one," part of a prophecy at the temple of Drez-Lar.
After being baffled by Groot's decision to "set off literally every single trap" as he made his way across the temple "untouched," The Watcher tried to hold the narrative together as Groot got distracted by everything around him.
After "defacing precious artif[acts]" in the temple, Groot began playing with shadow puppets right next to The Watcher's on-screen location. This caused The Watcher to actually question if Groot can see him, despite him being "a fifth-dimensional being."
Groot continued to get distracted, much to The Watcher's dismay, before seeming to actually begin fulfilling his prophecy. This didn't end up being the case, as Groot instead chose his toy ball over the "seed" he needed to save in order to protect the universe.
As the seed began falling under the lava surrounding it, The Watcher narrated the potential destruction of this universe, closing his eyes and saying "I am The Watcher, but I can't watch this."
However, after seeing that the universe remained intact, The Watcher realized the "seed" was truly a metaphor, saying "this is what I get for skimming the prophecy."
Finally, he narrated Groot's departure, saying "Go forth, you little seedling. I know you'll make us proud" and watching the Guardians of the Galaxy's ship fly into the sky.
The Watcher is set to return in Phase 5's next animated project, What If...? Season 2, debuting on Disney+ this Christmas.
Has The Watcher Been Watching the MCU?
There is some disagreement between James Gunn, who wrote and directed all Guardians of the Galaxy properties in the MCU besides I Am Groot (though he was an executive producer on the first season and got a special thanks in the credits of the second season), and I Am Groot producer Brad Winderbaum about the show's canon status.
Winderbaum argues that the Marvel animated series is canon, taking place between the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and the post-credits scene showing an older Groot. Gunn, however, considers it not canon.
If Winderbaum is correct, this not only means that The Watcher was convinced he was witnessing the end of the universe MCU fans know and love but that he also has canonically watched over that Marvel universe in the past.
The latter point is not new information per se, as several What If...? episodes directly referenced what happened in each situation in actual canon, but it does mark the first time fans actually see The Watcher viewing this familiar universe.