Marvel Studios’ What If tries to bring back the original flavor of the MCU through its multiverse outlook. But does it succeed?
Marvel Studios’ What If is MCU’s first outing that explores alternate possibilities as well as its first take on animation. But as much as it delivers on alternate possibilities, it feels flawed in ways we feel we cannot explain. Let us try to find out why.
Watch: Marvel’s WHAT IF…? | EPISODE 2 PROMO TRAILER 2 | Disney+
The Post-Pandemic Boom
The pandemic led Marvel to push the dates of its releases and even alter the timeline of several releases. Before What If came WandaVision, TFATWS, and Loki, in that order. And let’s just admit that after almost a year of no releases, we are willing to taste any and everything that Marvel puts on our plates. And this is one reason why we will gulp down whatever Marvel feeds us without even questioning. But why does it feel that What If took things too far? The thing that is new in the first episode is something we already knew would be and nothing more. This brings in grave doubts about the upcoming episodes too.
A New Universe for a New Audience?
Marvel Studios’ What If feels to be aimed neither at children nor at adults. Moreover, its apparent significance cannot be enjoyed by someone who is not familiar with the MCU and its storylines.
So for who is it? The answer is for everyone and no one. If you are a Marvel fan, you will see it because you have to. If you are new to the MCU and Marvel Studios’ What If is your first MCU watch, you may or may not like it. One would expect that the use of animation will let the creators open up their imaginary thinking and give us something totally new, nothing of the sort happened. Rather, the animation is used but as a tool to merely show an alternate possibility, which feels like Marvel’s only way out to show the audience something that is not possible through live-action.
Marvel Studios’ What If is the Real Shorts of Marvel
The first episode of Marvel Studios’ What If was more like watching a miniaturized form of Captain America: First Avenger. The only difference was that it was Peggy in the lead and not Steve. Agent Carter would have been better than this and one of the main reasons for this is the length of the episode i.e. 30 minutes approx. And one can only add so much in that time. The episode feels too short almost to the point of being an Insta-reel version of the movie. More time might just have brought in more to do with the character of Peggy Carter rather than just making her do everything that Steve did all over again and draining the character of its original arc.
The Animation of What If
The animation of Marvel Studios’ What If is strikingly flat. All characters share the same expressions and are flat. There is a sameness that adds to the lack of individuality of the characters. The show uses cel-shading animation that involves 3-D objects appearing more 2-D cartoon-like. This adds to the characters’ stiffness. Also, the lack of familiarity with this animation style adds further to the issue. This takes double the toll because firstly, the show takes us away from the live-action that we had grown accustomed to in the last decade, and secondly, the unpredictable animation style pulls us away from being emotionally involved. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse did more justice to its audience as well as to its animated storytelling. Be that as it may, Marvel Studios’ What If represents evolution. And while for many this is exciting, for others it does bring in skepticism.