Just as the Infinity Saga had the Infinity Stones, this next era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will have the multiverse. Loki's finale introduced audiences to the concept of the multiverse, starting slowly with timeline talk and the many Loki Variants.
Now, fans will have Marvel Studios' What If...?, the MCU's first venture into animation, to look forward to. While not live-action, the stories it will tell will be just as important to the wider universe as all the other projects. The difference is this show has far more creative freedom than everything else, and the tales that will unfold will be far beyond the capabilities of its brethren.
Audiences will be able to watch the story of Captain Carter unfold, as Peggy Carter gets the Super Soldier Serum instead of Steve Rogers. Then they'll see what would have happened if Yondu picked up a young T'Challa instead of Peter Quill—a tale that will lead to a very different Star-Lord than what has been seen thus far.
For a while, the show's debut season was announced to be ten episodes. Thanks to COVID though, it seems that is no longer the case.
WHAT IF...? EPISODE COUNT REVEALED
In an interview with Collider, What If...? executive producer Brad Winderbaum confirmed that the original plan for the show's first season was for it to be 10 episodes. Now, according to Winderbaum, "thanks to COVID, changes had to be made," which included "push[ing] an episode into Season 2."
"We had to push an episode into Season 2. It was just, honestly, like everything else, that was a COVID impact. There was an episode that just wouldn't hit the completion date, but luckily we do get to see it in the second season of the show."
Winderbaum also went on to confirm that Season 2 was also set to be nine episodes as well, which will put the show's total at 18 episodes by the end of its sophomore run.
As for the length of the nine installments in the show's first run, Winderbaum says that "we targeted a half an hour for each episode:"
"We targeted a half an hour for each episode. Some of them come in a little longer, some of them come in a little shorter,... we wanted to tell as many stories as we could and we had a certain budget we had to work with, so it felt like that 10-episode — now 9-episode run — was the right quantity."
WHAT IF... THE SHOW IS SHORTER?
It's disappointing to learn that there is one less episode of What If...? to look forward to. COVID has interfered with a lot of things, and sadly, it might not be done. WandaVision went through a similar ordeal, as it originally had ten episodes, much like the upcoming multiverse anthology.
It is curious to note, however, that with one fewer episode, there is a perfect six-week gap between the end of What If...? and the beginning of Hawkeye. This space could easily fit Ms. Marvel into the fall. Kamala's debut was originally set to air in 2021 as of a few weeks ago, but even more recently, news broke that it wouldn't make it into 2021's schedule. With there now being a six-week gap, the implications are certainly curious.
Whether it be nine or ten episodes, What If...?'s arrival on August 11 is still plenty exciting. After all, not only will the show introduce some zany ideas to viewers, but they'll also get the pleasure of meeting Jeffery Wright's The Watcher for the very first time—a character who is almost certainly going to have a live-action debut at some point in the future.
What If...? debuts on Disney+ next Wednesday, August 11.