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What If? Episodes 1-3 Review

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After the earth-shattering conclusion of Avengers: Endgame in 2019 followed by a whole year of nothing in 2020, Marvel Studios have made their triumphant return in 2021. WandaVision proved they could take on a sitcom, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier saw Marvel tackle race issues, Loki opened up so many doors and timelines for the MCU to head down going forward and Black Widow saw the OG Avenger finally receive her own film. But what seems like their most ambitious leap yet is about to launch on Disney+. ‘What If…?’ is the studio’s very first foray into animation.

The series explores alternate timelines in the MCU, begging fans to ponder the question what if? What if things had happened slightly differently? For instance, the very first episode asks, what if it was Peggy Carter not Steve Rogers that took the super soldier serum? Each episode in the series runs for about half an hour and asks a different question leading to alternate scenarios in the MCU.

The show sees the return of many fans’ favourite characters with lots of the original cast members returning to voice their superhero counterparts. Among the top billed cast returning are Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Hemsworth, Sebastian Stan, Tom Hiddleston as well as the final performance of Chadwick Boseman who will voice T’Challa in four episodes. But beyond the big names the show also sees the return of many of the smaller characters that fans never thought they’d see again. Clark Gregg returns as Agent Phil Coulson, Toby Jones is back as Dr Zola and Seth Green even reappears as classic Marvel character Howard the Duck.

The show is pulled together by The Watcher, voiced by Jeffrey Wright who narrates the series and guides us through the countless possibilities across the multiverse like Rod Sterling leading us through The Twilight Zone. What If proves that Marvel are willing to have a complete change of pace. The show is nothing ground-breaking and from the first three episodes it doesn’t appear to have much connection to the wider MCU but it’s a break from explosive big budget live-action films and TV shows with incredibly high production values.

Each episode offers up some familiarity, not just with the characters but with some of the situations too, however it injects these familiar circumstances with the unexpected. Each episode is filled with action, emotion, comedy and so much more in a way that matches the films, but the animation makes it feel incredibly unique. Although the first episode which sees Agent Carter injected with the super soldier serum and becoming Captain Carter instead of Steve Rogers as Captain America does feel a bit too derivative and too similar to Captain America: The First Avenger. There are lots of call backs that MCU superfans will recognise and enjoy with many shots being recreated only this time they’re animated, and it is nice to hear characters that we never thought we’d see or hear again like Stanley Tucci’s Dr Erskine.

Of the first three episodes, number one is the weakest. It’s a strong episode but two and three have a lot more to play with and make use of the altered scenarios much more. Episode two sees the return of a big bad we never expected to see again so soon and the third includes an insight into what fans know as ‘Fury’s Big Week’ when Nick Fury was assembling the Avengers- only not everything goes to plan this time around.

What If flips the MCU on its head and has countless possibilities for the future. A second series with nine more animated adventures is already in production. Writer A.C. Bradley has an enormous wealth of material to choose from with any moment since 2008’s Iron Man being fair game.

There’s enough familiarity in the characters, the actors voicing them and some of the situations to make it retain the MCU feel we all love but there’s also enough small changes to characters to make the show really interesting and fun to watch. We get to see characters we never expected to make us laugh cracking jokes and we get to see things that could never happen in live action as Marvel really embrace the animated format.

It is a bit disappointing to hear certain characters not being voiced by the same actors and it does feel a bit off. You can immediately tell when it’s not the original actor voicing the role and it does take away from the level of inter-connectedness the rest of the MCU has had. Hearing characters like Black Widow and Tony Stark being not being voiced by their usual actors that have played their parts so well after the past decade is quite disheartening but nonetheless there are still an impressive array of world class actors returning to their roles.

What If has beautiful animation and is a nice shift away from the usual Marvel formula. It’s much smaller, more contained stories than we’re used to from them but it’s entertaining and nothing too serious. It’s a good, fun time for those looking for something a bit different from Marvel.

The first episode of What If…? will premiere on Disney+ on Wednesday, August 11.

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Animation

Marvel Animation’s X-Men ’97 | Official Trailer — Disney +

Continuation of X-Men: The Animated Series (1992)

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Genre:

Animation, Action, Adventure

Release Date:

March 20, 2024

Director:

Disney +

Cast:

Jennifer Hale, Ray Chase, Lenore Zann

Post Summary:

Continuation of X-Men: The Animated Series (1992)

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Despicable Me 4 | Official Trailer — Universal Pictures

Plot unknown. Fourth installment of the ‘Despicable Me’ franchise.

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Despicable Me 4 [credit: Universal Pictures]

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Release Date:

July 3, 2024

Director:

Chris Renaud, Patrick Delage

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Plot Summary:

Plot unknown. Fourth installment of the ‘Despicable Me’ franchise.

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The Garfield Movie | Official Trailer — Starring: Chris Pratt

Animated feature film based on the popular comic strip about a sarcastic, lasagna-loving cat.

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Genre:

Animation, Adventure, Comedy

Release Date:

May 24, 2024

Director:

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Animated feature film based on the popular comic strip about a sarcastic, lasagna-loving cat.

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