The beauty about the concept of the multiverse is that there are infinite possibilities. Marvel’s What IfSeason 1 demonstrated a strong concept for this idea by showing us the possibilities of our titular heroes if their lives had such slightly different outcomes.
That our heroes are, sometimes, just as fallible as our villains, that villains are equally capable of being heroes if given the opportunity to grow – THESE are new concepts. It seemed that after Endgame, there were few and far interesting tales to be told in the MCU. But we forget, Marvel is not one singular universe. It’s a multiverse now, with Jeffrey Wrights Watcher returning to show to us the many alternate possible lives our favourite and most hated characters could have led.
For nine glorious days over the holidays, Marvel and Disney Plus fans have had the privilege and the pleasure to celebrate the MCU as if we were in the glory days before Ironman snapped the fingers of the infinity gauntlet. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Detective Nebula, Mad Max Tony Stark, Hela and The Ten Rings, Happy Hogan in a superhero version of Die Hard and even a Neil Gaiman inspired Marvel 1602 tale.
These stories, whilst so very rarely connected, are weaved together by the assurance of their fragility as single thirty-minute outings – little moments of perfection which we demand more of but will likely rarely see. For example, the episode with Hela and the Ten Rings plays out the entire story of the first three Thor films in a condensed half-an-hour and does so, and yes, I say this on purpose, marvellously.
In fact, What If proves that Marvel is not short of stories to tell – the MCU is not dying, rather its refusing to accept its proper evolution. Instead of two-hour long movies which dither and introduce dull and boring villains we should be seeing more of this. Thirty-minute tales which condense an entire narrative into one singular outing.
It’s fun, fast paced, action packed and it’s not impossible for the allowance of new characters that have never even graced the pages of comic books (as episode 6 ‘What if…Kahhori Reshaped the World?’ proves).
What if not only allows for the evolution of this massive part of cinema history of the early 21st century, it’s an innovative and exciting new format for viewers to experience cosmically vast stories. It also allows story tellers to challenge themselves by reshaping the relationship audiences have with certain characters in a small period of time. Furthermore, the animation style has allowed for visually specular stories, that could not be done on live action, to be realised on the small screen.
Perhaps my only worry is with What If? Marvel may eventually screw the proverbial pooch and NOT do the right thing of taking the animal to the clinic and raising the hybrid babies once they realise the gold mine of potential avenues this show could take them on.
But that’s a worry for the future. For now, lets enjoy the end of 2023 with something beautiful. 2023’s been…well, its been something. But 2024 if full of possibilities and hopes and fears and dreams. Let us go into that New Year asking…What If?
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