Marvel’s ‘What If…?’ Could Only Work In Animation, Producer Says — Here’s Why

Marvel is bringing one of its boldest comic books to life in the Disney+ series What If…? The What If…? comics tell stories about famous Marvel characters if things had gone a little bit differently in their legendary tales. It also stands out from other Marvel series by being animated, featuring the voices of some of the MCU’s biggest stars

Marvel's Nick Fury and Hawkeye in an episode of What If
L-R: Nick Fury and Hawkeye | Marvel Studios

What If…? producer Brad Winderbaum and director Bryan Andrews spoke at a Zoom press conference on Aug. 1. The filmmakers explained why What If…? could only work as an animated series. New episodes of Marvel’s What If…? premiere Wednesdays on Disney+. 

Animation let ‘What If…?’ recreate classic Marvel movies 

Winderbaum said he thought about adapting What If…? as a series on a drive home from work. He texted Marvel chief Kevin Feige and got the go ahead immediately. Animation was the only way they could recreate past Marvel movies that have long since wrapped and struck the sets.

Loki and Lady Sif prepare for battle in What If
Lady Sif and Loki | Marvel Studios

RELATED: Marvel Reveals Peggy Carter Will Return In ‘What If…?’ Season 2

“It was obvious from the beginning that it needed to be animated because of all the locations and sets and characters and elements from the MCU we were going to revisit,” Winderbaum said. “It had to kind of be in a medium that would allow us an infinite scope of whatever we could conceive of.”

Animation made it easier to land Marvel actors 

Stars like Hayley Atwell, Mark Ruffalo, Samuel L. Jackson, and more reprise their roles from Marvel films. The nature of animation made it possible to fit recording sessions into their busy live-action schedule. 

Marvel's What If Killmonger returns
Killmonger | Marvel Studios

RELATED: Marvel’s ‘What If…?’: The Reason Chadwick Boseman Agreed to Play Black Panther One Last Time

“It became availability,” Andrews said. “Everyone’s really busy. Everyone’s got a lot of really amazing things going on. So trying to wrangle the schedules and stuff, to get people involved, that was tough, but we were able to get so many back. We have a front row seat to awesome, constantly. It’s like just perpetual radness. They come in, we get to work with these amazing people who already are familiar with their characters and have done so much in the MCU proper.”

Actors were excited to find out ‘What If…?’ their characters were different 

Andrews continued to describe how the cast members were excited to participate in What If…? It was a chance to deviate from their Marvel Cinematic Universe portrayals.

What If features Doctor Strange in animated form
Doctor Strange | Marvel Studios

RELATED: Marvel’s ‘What If…?’ Star Tom Hiddleston Reveals the Best Thing About Reprising His Loki Role in the Animated Series

“They get to play with us and they get to bring it in a slightly different medium,” Andrews said. “What I perceive is genuine happiness for them to be able to riff on the character a little bit. They would start getting really into it, I think, because it’s a little bit of a spinoff of what they originally doing. So they get to play it a little bit differently. They look at the material and they read it and they get in in their play. They start having a blast because it’s not the same thing.”