For many people, Marvel is mainly the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It’s the self-contained universe where most of Marvel’s movies take place in. In it, Tony Stark has a family, instead of Arno. Bruce Banner can control the Hulk, instead of the Hulk being a cosmic force. What If…? can change that!
While there are some similar elements between the MCU and the 616 (Marvel’s ‘main’ comics universe), for the most part, the MCU only takes cues from the 616 but doesn’t completely coopt them.
As a hardcore Marvel Comics fan, that’s been a constant source of frustration for me. While I do enjoy the Marvel movies, seeing inconsistencies between them and the comics have always irritated me.
That’s why I’m really glad they had the idea to do a What If…? series, which debuted yesterday on Disney+.
Marvel’s multiverse is a damn interesting place, as Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse showed. While it’s only a small glimpse, it did show what could be possible.
That came full circle in What If…?’s first episode, where Peggy Carter became a super soldier instead of Steve Rogers. Interestingly, instead of choosing to draw upon the stories in past What If comics, What If…?’s debut episode takes inspiration from a game.
Marvel Puzzle Quest to be exact.
Her suit’s different and Peggy never called herself Captain America but it’s undeniable who Captain Carter was inspired by.
While I’m hugely anticipating the formation of the MCU’s Thunderbolts team (who’s going to be next?!), What If…? has given me a ton of hope that the MCU will one day integrate the 616 and the rest of the multiverse into it too!
After all, despite the What If…? moniker, the series is MCU canon.
Then again, when it comes to Marvel, that’s not saying MCU.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is technically canon too, but the movies don’t even acknowledge it other than through a few easter eggs. Hopefully things have changed over at Marvel Studios and that the alternate realities we’ll be seeing in What If…? are used in future MCU movies.
After all, what better way to recast characters than bringing in alternate versions of themselves? The Ultimates’ version of Tony Stark perhaps?