When it comes to content released exclusively for streaming services it is very easy to get lost in the vast array of shows and movies that are available at our finger tips. When media giant and instantly recognisable brand Disney purchased Marvel back in 2009, although we could easily predict that this partnership was going to be huge, no one could truly have seen just how big the endeavour was and how big it came to be.
Following on from the success of their competitors such as Netflix and Amazon Prime in 2019, Disney jumped on the streaming bandwagon and launched the, now highly successful, service Disney+. Because of the companies’ recent purchases (FOX and Marvel) the possibilities for the platform truly were endless and the opportunities for original content couldn’t have been more exciting.
‘WHAT IF?’ is the latest addition to the Disney+ Marvel originals, due to the success of predecessors ‘WandaVision’ and ‘The Falcon and The Winter Soldier’ it was clear that the show had potential to be a huge hit for the platform. The premise of the show is based on the comic book series of the same name which seeks to find out how the Marvel universe would look had certain events and decisions taken a different route.
The series (both comic and television) are highly influenced by the multiverse theory which suggests that every decision we make creates its own alternate timeline and the beauty of the theory is that it reminds us just how powerful the smallest, seemingly mundane decision can have an effect on where we go and where we end up in life.
The first episode, which takes the form of a mini introduction to the series, opens with a narration from our guide for the weird and wonderful world we are about to enter. The narrator in question is The Watcher (a being whom simply watches all the timelines vowing never to interfere and only observing) who begins our journey by introducing us to the concepts that are set to shape the forthcoming destinations of ‘WHAT IF?’.
Episode one of the series explores what would’ve happened if Peggy Carter had taken the place of Steve Rogers and became the first avenger during the war effort. The first thing I noticed was the crisp and clear animation style which attempted to make the characters appear as they were being portrayed by actual actors and not computer generated. After watching for a few minutes though it does have to be said that I did get a sensation of the uncanny valley when the characters were speaking their lines as the mouth movement was somewhat delayed and lagged at times which did sometimes lead to an interesting watch.
Script wise I felt that the writers were trying to create an element of innocence with the characters whilst also trying to appeal and appease the adult Marvel fan base that Disney have grown to rely on. This often meant that some of the humour in the episode lacked direction as I was often unsure whether or not the writers had aimed to get a laugh out of their younger audience or tease their adult.
A good element to the writing was the strong feminist undertones that existed within the episode, this is because Peggy, a female protagonist, led the narrative and became a superhero (a role which is often reserved for male characters and actors). This was extra satisfying in scenes when Peggy was doubted by her male counterparts for her to then save the day and prove that (to quote a cult Netflix show ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’): “females are strong as hell”.
The episode was long enough to cover all basis of the story but also short enough to leave the audience wanting more, this accompanied with the plot twists (for example Steve Rogers death which then turned out to be a red herring) meant for a rather enjoyable viewing experience that even the most casual of Marvel viewers could enjoy.
I am very excited to see where the series goes next and what stories from the comic book series they choose to adapt to the small screen as I do feel this series has excellent potential to become a hit.
Marvel’s ‘WHAT IF?’ is available now on Disney+ with new episodes being released every Wednesday.
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