Marvel What if… ?, the other worlds of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Marvel What if… ?, the other worlds of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Marvel What if… ?

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is not only made of films and TV series, as demonstrated by the new animated series Marvel What if…? , ready to take MCU fans into a different narrative dimension starting August 11, when on Disney + we will be guided by the Observer to discover alternative lives for beloved characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There could not have been a better time to present an animated series like Marvel What if…? , considered as the events we witnessed in Loki and WandaVision officially introduced the concept of parallel universe, central aspect in Phase Four of the MCU, also in the cinematic context of the heroes of the House of Ideas.

As they well know readers of Marvel comics, the parallel universes are a satisfying and complex narrative concept, which is configured differently depending on the type of story to be developed. While on the one hand we have a closer interaction between some declinations of the Marvelian multiverse, as seen in sagas such as Secret Wars or Spider-Verso, in other cases we have witnessed more autonomous alternative realities, ends in themselves, as for Earth X. In the case of Marvel What if…? , as we told you in our special, Marvel had started from another modus operandi, that is to rewrite some epochal passages of the continuity of the Marvel Universe, offering different interpretations that kept the authentic spirit of the characters unaltered. Successful experience, as shown by reading the recent volume What if? Classic by Panini.

But how does this idea fit into the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

What if? , the infinite possibilities of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

A question to which we have had partial answers thanks to the preview of Marvel What if ...? , which allowed us to enjoy the first three episodes of the Disney + animated series. Experience that has once again confirmed that behind the management of the Marvelian world there is a project that, despite a decade of constant presence, still has a lot to tell, relying both on the narrative drive of screenwriters and directors, but also on respect for the lore of the original material . It will sound ironic, but speaking of Marvel What if…? It is fair to remember how the transition from paper to film created an inevitable modification of the history of the Marvelian metahumans, a change which, however, kept the essential traits of their character unaltered. On closer inspection, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is another of the many Earths that make up the Marvelian multiverse, a concept that in What if ...? seems to be central in linking different episodes.

The chapters we have seen have 'alternative' heroes as protagonists who have already brought out a fair amount of interest in the presentation of the trailer: Captain Carter and T'Challa, this latest in a fun Ravager version. The third chapter shown is a Marvel What If…? dedicated to a world without Avengers, a story that is not only integrated into the MCU, but also pays homage to two of the first What if? comic books. Bringing these characters to life, fascinating as it was, was not easy, considering that it was necessary to offer viewers adventures that maintained that tone of familiarity with the 'canonical' version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but that were nevertheless credible within a context. different narrative. On the other hand, this element was precisely the cornerstone on which Roy Thomas had based the narrative fulcrum of What if ...? comic books, based on Stan Lee's famous question 'What if ...?', with which Smiling Stan used to stimulate his authors.

Faithful to the primal spark with which What if? of paper, the screenwriters led by A.C. Bradley, creator of the series, therefore borrowed from the paper version the essential traits of the spirit of What if…? , first of all by calling into action the Observer, an extraterrestrial member of a race that witnesses events of great importance in the Universe, without ever interfering. This omniscient being, vocally interpreted in the original by Jeffrey Wright, is also allowed to identify the turning points of the story, those moments in which continuity has found itself at a crossroads, situations that create infinite possibilities. Occasions in which, as the Observer recalls in the opening words of each episode, we can ask ourselves' What if ... ..? '.

Captivating narrative suggestion, which the Disney animated series presents with character and personality, capturing a perfect synthesis between respect for the comic book narrative formula and contextualization within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Without taking away the pleasure of discovering what these alternative universes are, we will limit ourselves to confirming the goodness of the work of the screenwriters, who have been skilled in creating situations in which the character of well-known characters is kept unchanged, with changes that take place in a reasoned and due to attitudes that are the result of a substantial change in the course of events.

In some cases, as in the episode dedicated to Peggy Carter, adherence to 'canonical' events, in this case Captain America : The First Avenger, is more marked, thanks to the reconstruction of central moments of the film, seen from a different perspective, which still remains faithful to the essential traits of the characters. An emotional construction punctuated with a rapid but well-kept pace, considering that these alternative universes must show themselves in thirty minute episodes.

If we take the second episode instead, dedicated to T'Challa and her life as Ravager, it is the distortion of some well-known faces is more marked. In this case, the motivation seems more to be due to the willingness of the authors to highlight with particular vigor the positive influence of the character of the late Chadwick Boseman, whose idealism has an impact, honestly, far too exaggerated on figures we are used to seeing. in a completely different guise. It must be conceded that this episode refers to the narrative of The Guardians of the Galaxy, the most irreverent and entertaining context of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, son of the narrative of James Gunn, who has recently imported this vision also in the DC cinematic world with his Suicide Squad. - Suicidal Mission.

New, strange worlds

Despite this understandable and poetic concession, the three preview episodes of Marvel What if…? they live up to expectations. Marvel Cinematic Universe fans will feel in a familiar environment, reliving the interpersonal dynamics between the different characters and, at the same time, marveling at how a simple modification of an event can give life to such different narrative contexts. The screenwriters deserve credit for always respecting the original material, no forcing has been made for pure quotationist taste or to give life to spurious situations.

A narrative rendering that is also embellished by a satisfying technical realization. Made in cel-shaded, under the guidance of the head of visual development Ryan Meinerding, the 9 episodes that make up this first season show fluidity of animation and attention to detail, visually capture the nuances of the cinematic MCU by reproducing it faithfully and allowing themselves the right spaces of freedom to show one's own personality.

Each episode of our preview delighted us with its respect for the continuity of the MCU in reproposing with obsessive attention the known locations and movements of the characters, astonishing us with a lively and impeccable coloring , which contributes to the feeling of finding ourselves again in the presence of a high quality MCU product, capable not only of reproducing the visual sensations of the cinematic chapters of the saga, but of creating cosmic situations, especially in the presentation, which echo the mastery of masters like Starlin and Shooter.

The final judgment, of course, can only be given after having v I see the remaining six episodes, but the feeling is that Marvel What if…? is a central production, stylistically and narratively, for the Phase Four developments of the MCU. The identity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is well established, but the animated series allows viewers to embark on a fun game of free quote search that is more cinematic than comic. A winning playful component, considering that this mechanism cements the feeling of familiarity to the MCU, giving Marvel What if ...? further charm and sense of continuity, which is always brought back to its right size by the discreet but unmistakable presence of the Observer during the events told. After Loki, thanks to Marvel What if…? the MCU multiverse has further character, confirming fan expectations for this fourth phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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