Warning: SPOILERS for What if … from Marvel? Season 1 finale – “What if … the vigilante broke his oath?”
What if … from Marvel? The season 1 finale led the heroes through the show’s various MCU timelines to stop Ultron (Ross Marquand), who threatened to destroy the Multiverse with the Infinity Stones. In “What If … The Watcher Breaks His Oath?” The Watcher (Jeffrey Wright) assembled the Guardians of the Multiverse, including Captain Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), T’Challa Star-Lord (Chadwick Boseman) and Black Widow (Lake Bell) to join Doctor Strange Supreme (Benedict Cumberbatch) and stop Ultron once and for all.
Screen rant I had the pleasure of interviewing What if…?director, Bryan Andrews, and showrunner AC Bradley, on What if…?finale, the overall scope of season 1, what to expect from What if…? season 2, and how different was Thanos in What if…? compared to the fearsome Mad Titan in Avengers: infinity war and Avengers Endgame.
Screen Rant: Marvel movies have some of the best superhero action ever, but with animation, there really are no limits. What were your favorite action beats on What if…? Season 1 and were you trying to headline the movies?
Bryan andrews: I’ve done a ton of storyboards and a ton of action sequences for movies over the years, so I attacked it in exactly the same way that I did those movies. What does the story need? What does the character need? What excites me? I launched myself the same way I did the action in Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, Thor, the Guardians. [of the Galaxy].
The favorites? There’s a lot. I think Nat in the truck hitting a group of SHIELD guys [in What If…? episode 3] It’s hilarious, but I think the fight between Captain Marvel and Thor [in What If…? episode 7] it turned out very well. We have to get dumb and big and crazy, so I think that’s the fun of it. One of the differences is the fact that I have the position that I have on the show, I can make sure the vision comes out, but when you are making a movie, you are just one in the gear of the machine, so sometimes what you do appears on the screen and sometimes not. But here I have to make sure that what we wanted to do made it to the screen, so it was pretty impressive.
The end really brought What if…? season 1 together. the What if…? comics were one-shots that didn’t usually connect. How early in the process did you decide that the heroes from the various timelines would come together?
AC Bradley: When talking about our first season of What If …? And choosing what our original series of stories would be, I always knew that they would connect in the end. The idea that the Watcher, as he does in the comics, says “No, no, no!” and eventually breaking his oath when the Multiverse is threatened, that was always at stake.
How those characters were going to interact and how everything was going to connect was a fun puzzle for me because we were mixing genres and heroes. So we had our amazing 1940s Peggy Carter with the Super Soldier serum, we had Star-Lord T’Challa, we knew they were going to be on the team. He definitely wanted to revisit Doctor Strange in his little prison of pain. How he was going to be part of the team was unclear from day one, but that was the fun of discovering these stories. Same with Killmonger [Michael B. Jordan]. He’s not your typical hero, but he was going to be necessary for the Watcher’s plan.
How did you come to Ultron as the main bad boy of the season?
AC BradleyWell, I think any comic book lover knows that Ultron in the comics is absolutely terrifying. Age of Ultron is great, but it was just a movie, and at times, to me, it didn’t seem to give that classic villain enough screen time that I would have given him. [laughs] We can only fit so far in those movies. This was our chance to demonstrate what Ultron is capable of. And also, now that we’re getting to Phase 4, we have the Infinity Stones at stake, we have the Multiverse, so what if Ultron got the Infinity Gauntlet? How bad would it get? And it’s easy enough to jump into complete devastation!
Are there characters or settings that you wanted in season 1 that you couldn’t include?
Bryan andrews: You know, it’s funny, there were so many episodes that we threw at Kevin [Feige]. It was like 30 and we were supposed to pick, like, 10, but he gave us 12 or 13 because he couldn’t cut it down. There are a lot of great episodes that we would have loved to be able to do, but you have to pick only 10, right? And it turned out to be 9. I think the funny thing is one of the episodes that was supposed to be in this season, Gamora and Tony. [Stark] episode, it couldn’t be completed due to pandemic stuff, but it carried over to season 2. So that’s awesome.
And then also for the length of time, there are certain scenes and moments that were in a variety of episodes that would have been fun to watch, but we just didn’t have any extra time. So some of these scenes had some additional things that would have been fun to explore and see, but we had to move a little faster for time. I can’t go into details [laughs] but yes, there are some things that would have been interesting to see, but maybe we will have a chance in the future.
Will we see the characters from season 1 again or will entirely new timelines be explored in season 2?
AC Bradley: In Season 2, we can play more with Phase 4 and those parts of the MCU Multiverse, so hopefully, you’ll see some characters from Shang-Chi, some characters from Black Widow, maybe an Eternal or two will show up. As for revisiting our heroes from season 1, I love Peggy Carter and our post-credit scene was kind of a promise. Hopefully a promise that your story will continue in different ways.
How do you outgrow What if…? season 2? Will there be another Multiversal threat or will you try something different?
Bryan andrews: We can’t tell you! [laugh]
AC Bradley: In season 2, we will focus on different characters, new heroes, new stories. For me, the fun of What If …? It’s not just about the show and the excitement, it’s about bringing these iconic characters – both the ones we’ve grown up with and the ones we’ve just met from the movies – and showing different sides of who they are. Showing who the human is behind the iconic silhouette. For me, it all starts with character. The only reason people love to see a giant Ultron fighting a wizard and a zombie is because we know their stories. And we are invested.
Bryan andrews: Certain. I mean, just watch Nat and Peggy interact [in the finale] it’s amazing, or that scene with Nat and Clint [Jeremy Renner] in the penultimate episode interacting. There are certain combinations where you love to see people together. You love to watch the conversation. It is that emotion that makes you invest so that with all the important things of “WHOOSH BANG”, you are free to jump out of your chair and say, “Woaaahh!” Because you have context. If it’s just all those other things with no connectivity then it’s meaningless. You must have both.
I wanted to ask about Thanos (Josh Brolin), the biggest villain in phases 1-3. Here, it is not as effective as in the movies. Poor Thanos. Will you ever take a break in the Multiverse?
Bryan andrews: [laughs] Well I think Thanos is pretty badass on his own. And I think it’s important for everyone to remember that there are endless possibilities. So yeah, there are universes where Thanos maybe didn’t act well and he’s not as badass as we thought. Or he was on the brink and was defeated in a different way. I’m sure there is a universe where Thor aimed for the head. And I’m sure there are probably hundreds of universes where Thanos walks out of that door to see the Infinity Ultron and just destroys that droid. That was one particular story that developed that specific way of allowing this to be accomplished. And for that to happen, I think that that particular Thanos was perhaps a bit full of arrogance. He didn’t check where he was going beforehand and he was a bit ill-prepared, but I don’t think that means that’s the only way that particular situation developed from a long shot.
AC BradleyThere is definitely a universe where Thanos came to McDonald’s after they stopped serving breakfast and decided to destroy the entire world.