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The Watcher Is ‘the Biggest Marvel Fan There Is’ Says ‘What If…?’ Star Jeffrey Wright

Jeffrey Wright discusses his role in 'What If...?' at a press conference. Wright provides the voice of The Watcher, who shows the audience how Marvel stories could have played out differently. Wright explains why he calls The Watcher the biggest Marvel fan in the universe.

What If…? will show Marvel fans alternate histories of their favorite characters. The Watcher (voice of Jeffrey Wright) tells stories from the multiverse in which classic Marvel characters lead different lives. Wright says The Watcher is the biggest Marvel fan of all. 

The Watcher watches over the city
The Watcher | Marvel Studios

Wright spoke at a Zoom press conference for What If…? on Aug. 1. Here’s why Wright describes The Watcher as a huge Marvel fan. New episodes of What If…? premiere Wednesdays on Disney+.

The Watcher is ‘the most dramatic being in all the known universe’

Watching over the multiverse is a big responsibility. That’s why Wright agreed with Marvel’s original description of The Watcher in the comics.

The Watcher from Marvel's What If...? watches from space
The Watcher | Marvel Studios

“I’m playing The Watcher, who is described in his first appearance in Marvel Comics, I think it was in 1963, something like the most dramatic being in all the known universe,” Wright said. “So he’s a fairly dramatic guy, he’s a fairly powerful guy. He’s kind of overseeing the entire MCU. He’s overseeing the multiverse and he plays somewhat of a Rod Sterling [in The Twilight Zone] role here, kind of narrating, kind of not.”

What makes The Watcher a Marvel fan

The Watcher has seen every Marvel story play out from his omniscient perch within the MCU. Wright says The Watcher is fanboying out when he gets to see alternate multiverse stories. 

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

“In some ways, as maybe the biggest Marvel fan there is watching all that transpires and dealing with certain temptations to involve himself,” Wright said. But at the same time, just kind of living vicariously through these characters, these stories, this mythology and taking it all in. He’s got probably the highest cable bill that you can possibly imagine. I think the fans can relate to him in many ways.”

What if he had complicated relationship with Marvel superheroes?

The Watcher is supposed to keep out of things. It’s in his name, he just observes. Wright said his relationship to the Marvel characters is a bit more complicated than that. 

“I think in some ways, he’s kind of defined by them,” Wright said. “It’s his life’s passion to observe and connect with them, with their heroism, with their flaws. Without them, he’s nothing, in some regard. So he adores them and is compelled by them  in a way that gives him purpose, that gives his life meaning.”

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

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In that regard, playing the role was instinctive for Wright. The Watcher is us and we are him.

As I think about these characters and what they’ve come to represent for we who watch them, who are like The Watcher, and in some ways, I think that the passion behind fans’ connection to these characters is this level of trust. This level of understanding and of hope that is imbued in them in a way that they may have not found outside of this mythology. Particularly now, in this kind of upturned world and, where trust is difficult to hold on to and to place in any individual, we can always place our trust in these characters. The deepness of that connection, I think, for fans is a powerful one, and also for The Watcher.

Jeffrey Wright, What If…? press conference, 8/1/21