After three successful Disney+ shows, Marvel Studios' decision to release an animated, anthology series took audiences by surprise.
Throughout its nine-episode run, Season 1 of What If...? explored the Multiverse alongside The Watcher as Peter Parker took on a Quantum Realm-related zombie apocalypse, Peggy Carter received the super-soldier serum, and Ultron defeated (most) of the Avengers and the Mad Titan.
Since Marvel Studios considers What If...? canon, and since it involved the Multiverse, the show generated considerable attention; however, not every episode appeared to be a home run with the fans due to confusing cameos, issues with continuity, and seemingly contradictory plot points.
Now that Season 1 of What If...? has concluded, new data revealed what viewers really thought of the MCU's animated, multiversal tale for Disney+.
How Fans Ranked Marvel's What If...? Episodes
Information exclusively obtained by The Direct from Whip Media confirmed that Marvel's What If...? was, in fact, a hit with audiences while also revealing which episodes fans connected with most.
When asked to rank What If...? on a scale of 1 to 5 stars with 5 being the highest, 86% of viewers awarded the animated series 5 stars. This information confirms that the show was a success for Marvel Studios and is generating considerable engagement despite some divisiveness with the fan base.
Whip Media also discovered that the finale titled "What If...The Watcher Broke His Oath?" proved to be the most popular of the season's episodes, having generated the most engagement through online reaction and conversation.
The second most popular episode was the season's penultimate story, titled "What If...Ultron Won?" while the least popular was the comedic tale of "What If...Thor was an Only Child?"
Here's the full list of What If...?'s nine episodes in order from the most popular to the least:
1.) Episode 9: "What If... The Watcher Broke His Oath?"
2.) Episode 8: "What If... Ultron Won?"
3.) Episode 2: "What If... T'Challa Became a Star-Lord?"
4.) Episode 1: "What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?"
5.) Episode 5: "What If... Zombies?!"
6.) Episode 4: "What If... Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?"
7.) Episode 3: "What If... the World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?"
8.) Episode 6: "What If... Kilmonger Rescued Tony Stark?"
9.) Episode 7: "What If... Thor Were an Only Child?"
Whip Media's data is obtained through its TV Time app. In addition to being the world's largest TV and movie tracking app, TV Time utilizes real-time emotional indicators to assess viewers' favorite moments, how they feel about an episode, and more. The data for What If...? was the result of hundreds of thousands of emotion-based votes from viewers.
What If...?'s Inevitable Criticism & Success
Marvel Studios' What If...? was an unusual project from the start and was unlikely to avoid criticism.
After all, the show dove headfirst into the Marvel Multiverse, revisiting beloved MCU characters and rewriting their stories to often tragic ends; and for a franchise where canon is key, some sort of controversy was inevitable.
On the other hand, the show's success in terms of engagement may have been equally inevitable as well.
Since What If...? included almost every well-known character and property within the MCU, the show drew in fans from all corners of the franchise, offering the same broad appeal and investment as an ensemble Avengers film. Coupled with the series' high stakes, ranging from zombies to an Infinity Stone-laden Ultron, engagement was understandably high, as this new data suggests.
This could also be why the finale topped Whip Media's list of engaging episodes, as it featured an ensemble cast of characters from the season's prior stand-alone stories all facing a seemingly insurmountable threat.
Meanwhile, "What If...Ultron Won?" can be compared with Avengers: Infinity War in that the villain succeeded, something audiences rarely see and that affected the show's entire roster of heroes. It only makes sense that this story produced fan reaction and conversation.
Also, fans are naturally intrigued by a crossover as it allows viewers to see more of their favorite characters under a different set of circumstances, and several of the show's more popular episodes did just that. In addition to being one of Chadwick Boseman's final performances, "What If...T'Challa Became a Star-Lord" showcased more of T'Challa's character and personality through his interactions with Yondu and Thanos.
The same can be said for Spider-Man, Ant-Man, Hulk, and the other Avengers featured in "What If...Zombies?!" while What If...?'s debut episode featuring Captain Carter and Steve Rogers offered more of their respective characters but in reversed roles.
However, Thor's episode had the least amount of engagement since - apart from Ultron's last-minute appearance - it had little to no stakes with Thor's interactions with Jane offering nothing new of substance for viewers to discuss.
Since What If...? can play with all the pieces of the MCU, it naturally offers a great deal of appeal. Hopefully, the show's creators will be able to utilize data and fan responses to produce an even more successful Season 2.
All Season 1 episodes of What If...? are streaming on Disney+.