Loki managed to break open the multiverse, expanding alternate realities through a series of branched timelines. As a result, other MCU projects will pick up the pieces, and one of them is What If...?.
The upcoming Disney+ series will serve as Marvel Studios' first foray into the realm of animation, and reports suggest that there will be more after the show's debut. What If...? will tackle a plethora of alternate realities from the Infinity Saga, exploring different scenarios such as Peggy Carter taking the Super-Soldier Serum instead of Steve Rogers and Tony Stark befriending Erik Killmonger.
Many of these alternate worlds feature familiar heroes and villains who fans know and love from the MCU, but they will be involved in intriguing scenarios that would've completely changed their fate in the main timeline.
Aside from the aforementioned super-soldier switcheroo and unlikely allies, marketing for What If...? already teased that there is an overarching narrative that could set up a new team at the tail-end of the series that will be known as the Guardians of the Multiverse.
This new series also presents a wide array of opportunities to tackle unexplored events from the MCU, and the latest comments from the producers of the show appear to have fulfilled that promise.
FURY'S BIG WEEK IN WHAT IF...?
What If...? executive producer Brad Winderbaum sat down with Total Film, via a report from GamesRadar, to talk about the kinds of episodes that fans will experience when the MCU's first animated venture premieres on Disney+.
Winderbaum confirmed that one installment revolves around Fury's Big Week during the MCU's Phase 1, with the producer describing it as a "great Agatha Christie episode:"
“Then we have a great Agatha Christie episode. It takes place in this obscure point of detail that only hardcore fans know called ‘Fury’s Big Week’...”
To recap, Fury's Big Week is a prelude comic that is set within the MCU, and it follows the SHIELD director and his agents as they deal with various events leading toward the game-changing Battle of New York during 2012's The Avengers.
Meanwhile, head writer A.C. Bradley shared how the freedom of the format of What If...? allowed the tone of each episode to vary wildly on a weekly basis, explaining that the installments are either "darker or lighter than a traditional Marvel movie:"
“Our episodes are either darker or lighter than a traditional Marvel movie, and we also have a couple of straight-up tragedies.”
Bradley then expanded on the show's other episodes, confirming that it would include installments like a political thriller, a "tragic love story" centered around Doctor Strange, and one where he just wanted to "goof off and relive [his] favorite movies as a kid:"
“We have an episode that’s like a political thriller. We’ve got a dark Doctor Strange episode that’s like a tragic love story. One of them is just me wanting to goof off and relive my favourite movies as a kid. Can’t Hardly Wait was a touchstone… I can’t imagine any other point in my career when I’m going to get to write one of those National Lampoon crazy party movies…”
Alongside the reveal, Total Film also shared a new image from What If...?, showcasing a fresh look at the animated version of Michael B. Jordan's Erik Killmonger riding a white riconeros from the Border tribe.
MORE SHIELD STORIES IN THE MCU
Fury's Big Week served as a pivotal part of the MCU's Phase 1, and it's a positive development that What If...? is giving the spotlight to this intriguing chapter in the franchise's interconnected narrative.
Written by Loki writer Eric Pearson and Chris Yost, Fury's Big Week is a tie-in comic book series that follows the titular SHIELD director, Clark Gregg's Agent Phil Coulson, and Natasha Romanoff as they deal with multiple Phase 1 events told from the organization's perspective.
This comic helped hardcore MCU fans understand the Phase 1 saga of the franchise, giving more meaning to the events that transpired before, during, and after the Battle of New York.
The fact that A.C. Bradley compared this Big Week episode to an "Agatha Christie" type of installment makes narrative sense, mainly because it fits the conspiracy and espionage aspect of SHIELD. It looks like the episode will lean toward the detective concept, and this could imply that it will revolve around Fury's investigation of these different cases.
While it is expected that Fury will be the main character in this episode, there's a good chance that the other protagonists in the comics will make their presence felt.
In the original storyline, Romanoff was tasked to track down Bruce Banner in New York City, but this episode could switch things up and assign this task to Agent Coulson. Romanoff could then be assigned to handle Stark or even the atmospheric disturbances in New Mexico to discover Thor.
Clark Gregg already teased his return to the MCU in a cryptic social media post, and the producer's recent confirmation could hint that he will be involved in this specific installment.
The trailers also showed Clint Barton still doing his part for SHIELD during Thor's retrieval mission for Mjolnir, meaning that his role may still the same as the main MCU timeline. Despite that, there's a strong chance that a different outcome will be showcased, placing Barton at odds with the God of Thunder instead of staying down like in 2011's Thor.
What If...? is poised to expand the MCU not just in a multiverse way but in a storytelling perspective. The fact that What If...? is an animated venture creates a wide array of opportunities for Marvel Studios to develop characters in unique ways while also keeping the main MCU intact in terms of connectivity.
Bradley's tease of what fans should expect with the episodes presents intrigue, and it will be interesting to see how the producers of the show will pull it off when it's all said and done.
What If...? is set to premiere on Disney+ on August 11, 2021.