A release window has been announced for the upcoming Marvel series What If...?, an animated program that will stream on Disney+. Like the comic series by which it's inspired, the show will be an anthology where each episode puts a spin on a key moment from MCU history, and explores how events might've played out differently as a result.
The What If? comic series began in 1977 and continues to the present day, largely following the same format. One of its most famous deviations is What If Gwen Stacy Had Lived?, retelling possibly the most notorious event in Marvel history, and leading to the ramifications of Spider-Man being revealed as Peter Parker. Some of the other ideas include What if Daredevil Had Killed the Kingpin?; What if the Fantastic Four Had Not Gained Their Super-Powers?; What if the Punisher's Family Had Not Been Killed?; and the somewhat prescient What if Jane Foster Had Found the Hammer of Thor? The series was revamped in 2006 to tell stories in full alternate realities, with events such as Steve Rogers fighting in the historical Civil War against his former Colonel Bucky Barnes, the undead White Skull.
The announcement of when What If...? would air was one of a myriad assortment of fan-pleasing updates unveiled yesterday to a packed Hall H at San Diego Comic Con. Although a specific release date wasn’t forthcoming, it was stated that the series would appear some time in the summer of 2021. The series will see Uatu the Watcher (Jeffery Wright) relate a number of tales from his observations of other universes beyond Earth-199999, the MCU’s designation in the multiverse.
Just announced in Hall H at #SDCC, Marvel Studios’ WHAT IF…?, the first animated series in the MCU, with Jeffrey Wright as the voice of The Watcher and many actors from across the MCU reprising their roles as voice talent. Streaming exclusively on Disney+, Summer 2021. pic.twitter.com/el6etc3xZH— Marvel Studios (@MarvelStudios) July 21, 2019
The first story to get the alternate events treatment is the origin of Captain America, which in this case will see Peggy Carter be the one to take the super soldier serum and don the star-spangled leather, leaving Steve Rogers a scrawny kid who nevertheless still fights alongside her, instead joining the war against the Nazis and the Red Skull by using an armored battle suit created by Howard Stark. Although exactly which other stories are being tackled hasn't been specified, a number of significant actors from the likes of Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, Thor and Black Panther announced to be taking part invokes a lot of speculation.
Its not surprising that an exact release date is yet to be forthcoming. Each of the series to feature on Disney+ is still in development, so it would be premature to give an exact date on which they would be unleashed, and since production and streaming are effectively the same company, there's no third party scheduling to take into consideration. What If...? dropping in the summer provides it with a window where it'll be the sole MCU content available. The Loki and WandaVision series are planned to begin streaming at the beginning of the year, and Hawkeye towards its end, while the closest release in the main MCU continuity will be Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, released on May 7, leaving What If...? without any distractions in making audiences ponder things that might've been.