What If...? Review: A bumpy start, builds steam in the middle and concludes on an EXHILARATING note

Updated on Oct 07, 2021 07:36 PM IST  |  52.6K
   
What If Review
What If...? features voice acting by MCU stars including Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo and the late Chadwick Boseman.
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What If...?

What If...? Voice Cast: Jeffrey Wright, Chadwick Boseman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Hemsworth

What If...? Creator: A. C. Bradley

Streaming Platform: Disney+Hotstar

What If...? Stars: 3.5/5

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*MINOR SPOILERS* When your story facilitates the narrative of "endless possibilities", you're both in a win-win situation while also at a big risk. A win because you can play with the plot to cook up a delectable meal and a risk because too many cooks can spoil that broth. In What If...?, while the Marvel Disney+ series started off on a bumpy note, the best was yet to come in the latter half of the season with a thrilling conclusion in tow.

Given how MCU is now embarking on to the Multiverse Era, with series like WandaVision and Loki being experimental ticks with flying colours, What If...? envisions the vast universe by altering a life-changing event that changes the course of action in drastic terms. With several MCU stars (with a few big names surprisingly MIA!) reprising their characters as voice actors in Marvel Studios' first animated series, the cel-shaded animation style was used to bring a sense of realism without making it seem too cartoonish and in both aspects, it was a job well done.

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Jeffrey Wright plays the main pivotal character of What If...?, The Watcher, who observes the multiverse and is also the narrator of the nine episodes, tightly wrapped in 30 minutes each. With the command of Jeffrey's authoritative vocals, along with the bada*s intruder vibes of an animated The Watcher, you're promised to be intrigued throughout the season as he masterfully conveys the genuinely interesting stories unfolding in different timelines before the eventual coming together. Moreover, the questions posed, pondered and answered in the nine episodes, all have spunk in them.

The first three episodes of What If...?, one of which features the introduction of Chadwick Boseman's final stint as T'Challa before his untimely death, somehow doesn't hit the spot like previous Disney+ series have successfully managed to bolster through. Although, Ep 2 aka What If... T'Challa Became a Star-Lord?, featuring Chadwick, will be a bittersweet yet fond farewell to the beloved Oscar-nominated actor. That's not to say they weren't enjoyable but not much is altered in these respective timelines. However, the series begins to build considerable and even power-packed steam towards the middle where the event altered are infact, life-changing. A particular favourite of mine being Ep 5 aka What If... Zombies?! A world where the Avengers, and humanity at large, turn zombies is just as tangible on-screen as you'd expect it to be in your wildest dreams and in spite of the long, long list of fan-favourite characters, the episode manages to pack a righteous punch.

In What If...?, MCU veterans like Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston and especially, the brilliant Benedict Cumberbatch, take off right where they left Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye, Loki and Doctor Strange and add more dimensions to their characters than was thought possible. While Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans did not reprise their MCU characters and provide their voices for Black Widow, Iron Man and Captain America, Lake Bell, Mick Wingert and Josh Keaton wouldn't make you miss them too much as they strike the right chords, quite literally, as the OG6 Avengers. MCU's Red Skrull aka Ross Marquand as Ultron is also plenty impressive.

It's particularly MCU's patented humour that flows seamlessly throughout while an emotional gravitas constantly builds on the levels of nostalgia, tipping odes to MCU feature films and series. Even Ep 4 and 6 aka What If... Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands? and What If... Thor Were an Only Child? are examples of balancing the same. I also have to mention the finale, Ep 9 aka What If... the Watcher Broke His Oath?, which sees The Watcher assembling the Guardians of the Multiverse to defeat Thanos and protect the multiverse. In this episode, the extravagant fight sequences and especially the elaborate, exquisite production design and art direction by Paul Lasaine and Johel Rivera amidst the multiverse is a big tease and has us terribly excited for how all this would look like in real life in Marvel Studios' upcoming feature films. All episodes of What If...? were distinctive and proportionate with the timelines and, particularly, the destruction and sometimes fun, caused.

ALSO READ: What If...? Ep 9: The Watcher assembles Guardians of the Multiverse to defeat Ultron in thrilling fashion

Every episode of What If...? has its unique charm and you can tell nothing was spared when it came to unifying all of these aspects together. And for that, kudos go to animator Stephan Franck and editors Graham Fisher and Joel Fisher. Even Laura Karpman's score has that trademark MCU flavour to add the necessary thrills and frills.

In parting, I too have a question to ask; What If... we get a Season 2? Because I'm ready and roaring for another dosage of limitless possibilities.

 

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