Marvel Studios' What If...? stands as the MCU's first foray into animation. The nine-episode first season explored, as the show's title would suggest, "What If" moments that took a memorable moment from the studios' Infinity Saga and turned it on its head, often with chaos ensuing thereafter.
Seasons 2 and 3 of the series are already in development, with the second batch of episodes due out in early 2023. A trailer for these installments was shown at this year's San Diego Comic-Con but it was not released online for the fans who weren't in attendance. Still, season two of What If...? will tell tales that feature characters and events from Marvel's Phase 4 in addition to those of the first three Phases.
After all the Multiversal zaniness that went down in the show's first outing, one has to wonder where Marvel will go from there.
What If...? Season 2 Loosens the Reigns
Speaking to Deadline, What If...? director Bryan Andrews explained how the series was a bit reserved in Season 1 with regards to the storylines it pursued, but going forward in the second and third seasons, things will be much "wackier."
"Obviously more unique stories that slowly get a little bit wilder. The first season Kevin wanted to keep it a little bit closer to the vest, have a little thing that was different and that little thing made these things different, but still tied very much to either a moment in the movies or a particular film itself. Now there’s more films and things to pull from, so we don’t have to have just a tiny moment. We can expand out and things can get a little bit wackier. We take it up a notch in season two and then in season three we just go even wackier. In season two, we have different characters that we haven’t really got a chance to play with before and we see how they’ll integrate with some of the favorites that come back. There’s lots of really cool stuff and I can’t wait for people to see it."
According to Andrews, the writers' room came up with so many promising storylines that even Kevin Feige had a difficult time narrowing things down:
"It was a process, but it was pretty amazing coming up with them all once we got our head writer involved. She brought in one of her partners, Matt [Chauncey], so it was AC [Bradley] and Matt and then Brad and myself, and we would sit and just spitball. And we just got an embarrassment of riches. We got so many episode ideas, and Kevin [Feige] was like, “Just gimme a list of like 30.” And then Kevin couldn’t even whittle it down. I think it ended up being 14, and we had to kill the last few to try to get it down to the actual number. But funnily enough, there were ideas that just kept staying around, so a couple of those ideas make it into season two and then there’s a few that might be showing up in season three. So many good ideas, so many fun ideas, some that were just way too crazy. They’re just like, “We’re not ready for that yet.” So I think that’s why in season three, we’ll see some of the crazy stuff that we were pitching out of the gate."
What If...? Shows Promise Going Forward
The first nine episodes of What If...? while fun and at-times, quite compelling, didn't have the fan reaction that Marvel Studios was perhaps hoping for. Elements like the pacing, animation style, and attention to detail all saw their fair share of critiques.
Maybe this was the catalyst to open things up a bit more for subsequent seasons. Season three of the show will even have a new head writer, with a replacement scribe taking over for A.C. Bradley, who served in the role for season one and the forthcoming season two.
However, going crazier in story and tone might not end up being the solution here. If anything, it might end up exacerbating the show's existing issues.
Still, What If...? has proven to be a nevertheless exciting romp through the MCU Multiverse, with the best-received episodes digging deep into the lore and mining it for solid emotional beats. If further seasons of the show can hit those highs with a bit more frequency, it should be smooth sailing.
The entirety of Marvel Studios' What If...?'s first season is now streaming on Disney+ and, as mentioned above, Season 2 arrives on the platform in early 2023.