Phase 4 of the MCU will introduce Uatu The Watcher, and that means Guardians of the Galaxy 2 narrowly avoided creating an MCU plot hole. The introduction of The Watcher was confirmed as part of Marvel's SDCC 2019 panel, where they announced their entire Phase 4 slate and a number of casting announcements alongside it. In the Disney+ animated series What If...?, Jeffrey Wright (Westworld) will be voicing The Watcher.
The Watchers are a race of extraterrestrial beings who keep watch over the multiverse, and Uatu is the Watcher who was assigned to observe Earth and its solar system. He was first introduced in Fantastic Four #13 in 1963, and was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The Watchers were then brought into the MCU in 2017, thanks to the post-credits scene of Guardians of the Galaxy 2.
It's there we get Guardians of the Galaxy 2's Stan Lee cameo, which finds him playing a character in space who is relaying the events to The Watchers. This led to the theory that Lee himself was The Watcher, and that all of his cameos were him playing Uatu observing the events happening on Earth. However, Marvel only partially confirmed this, by revealing that Lee was indeed playing the same person in each MCU appearance, but that he was working as an informant for the Watchers, rather than being one himself.
Since Lee wasn't Uatu, that means the MCU's Phase 4 is free to introduce the character, which is exactly what's happening in What If...?. The Disney+ TV show is an animated series that tells alternate stories from the MCU, such as what if Peggy Carter had become Captain America, and Steve Rogers had donned the Iron Man suit instead. That gives it an odd place in canon, and a lot of wiggle room, but The Watcher's role as the one observing these stories still needs to fit within the broader MCU.
What If...? will feature 25 MCU actors reprising their previous roles, including Chris Evans as Rogers and Hayley Atwell as Carter, as well as Michael B. Jordan (Erik Killmonger), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Paul Rudd (Scott Lang/Ant-Man), Natalie Portman (Jane Foster), Josh Brolin (Thanos) and more. Wright's The Watcher will be tasked with observing and narrating all of these alternate scenarios.
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 could have made this a plot hole had Marvel simply decided that, yes, Lee was indeed The Watcher, which certainly could've happened given the popularity of the theory and the fact this was long before the What If...? series had been announced. Instead, by having Lee as an informer and no canonical appearance of Uatu to date, then Disney+'s What If...? can introduce The Watcher to the MCU in Phase 4 without creating a plot hole.
- Black Widow (2020) release date: May 01, 2020
- Eternals (2020) release date: Nov 06, 2020
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) release date: Feb 12, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021) release date: May 07, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2021) release date: Nov 05, 2021