What If...? is the wild card of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
After three series gave Marvel fans what they craved during a movie drought — long, narrative stories — the MCU is going for something different.
Modeled after the comic series of the same name, What If...? follows Uatu the Watcher as he explores different parallel universes similar to the MCU world we know — except for one key difference: It reimagines major characters and events.
Here’s what we know about What If...?’s ten upcoming episodes, everything from the obvious to the secret.
1. Captain Carter
Captain Carter and her Union Jack shield in What If...?Marvel Studios
“The name’s Captain Carter” is how Peggy introduces herself in the What If...? trailer. Based on that line, her immense strength, and her Union Jack-emblazoned shield, it’s safe to say one episode will cover an alternate timeline where Peggy received the super-soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers. It’s also clear from the trailer this episode will include an appearance from Doctor Strange.
In conversation with Total Film, head writer A.C. Bradley hinted that there would be a Doctor Strange episode with a “tragic love story.” Could this episode also be Captain Carter’s debut? Will this variant of Peggy fall for Doctor Strange instead of Steve Rogers? There’s no way to know for sure until What If...? premieres.
2. Iron Man and Killmonger
What If...? offers a new take on Iron Man’s origin story. Marvel Studios
The trailer for What If...? opened with an animated interpretation of Iron Man’s introductory scene. Except for this time, Tony Stark was rescued by Killmonger.
This small event has huge ramifications on the future of the MCU. Without Tony’s injury and capture, there’s no arc reactor, no Iron Man, and possibly not even the Avengers. However, there’s another shot of Tony, showing him in his classic suit. So who knows how he’ll end up in that, but at least all roads lead to Iron Man.
3. MCU Zombies!
A zombie version of Iron Man will make an appearance on What If...?Marvel Studios
What’s the point of having an alternate universe episode if you can’t have a zombie episode?
There are only a few scant shots of a zombie Captain America and a zombie Iron Man growling at the camera, but that’s more than enough to know the undead heroes will make at least a brief appearance. Could we see a zombie version of Captain America: Civil War?
4. T’Challa as Star-Lord
What If...? features Chadwick Boseman’s final MCU performance.Marvel Studios
This episode will forever be bittersweet as it contains Chadwick Boseman’s last performance as the Black Panther.
Except he’s not the Black Panther at all. Instead, this variant was kidnapped from Earth and raised in place of Peter Quill as Star-Lord. It may not be the T’Challa we know and love, but hearing his voice in any connotation is enough.
5. A severed Ant-Man head?
At the very least, we know Ant-Man’s head will appear in What If...?Marvel Studios
In the same Total Film interview, A.C. Bradley hinted at an entire episode that’s just riffing off classic comedy films like Can’t Hardly Wait.
Could that explain the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot of a head that looks and sounds an awful lot like Paul Rudd floating in a jar, Futurama-style? Maybe this all-out comedy episode can also explain that random shot of Howard the Duck too.
6. An alternate Avengers lineup
Avengers, assemble?Marvel Studios
Another familiar sight in the What If...? trailer is the pan shot of the assembled Avengers during the battle of New York, which transitions into an identical shot of another crew, led by Gamora, Star-Lord, Black Panther, and Thor.
Aside from the unexpected bunch, there’s definitely something else up: The background has changed. Maybe in this alternate universe, the Battle of New York didn’t take place in New York at all.
7. Clint Barton the Hulk
Clint Barton looks a little... green in What If...?Marvel Studios
Two shots in the trailer seem to be hinting at a Clint Barton/Hulk mashup.
First, there’s a wide-open Hulk-green eye, and later a green-tinged shot of someone who is likely Clint Barton roaring. Considering the lack of both Hawkeye and Hulk content recently, this is a welcome collaboration.
8. Spider-Man as the Sorcerer Supreme
Spider-Man looks pretty snazzy in that cape.Marvel Studios
There is a shot of Peter Parker using his web-slinging powers in the What If...? trailer, but there’s no indication on how his identity will vary from the original Spider-Man.
However, a close look at the top left of the series’ poster reveals a glimpse at Spider-Man wearing Doctor Strange’s iconic cape. We might see Peter deal with two separate superpowers, becoming the Spider-Sorcerer.
As for what the remaining two What If...? episodes could entail, the possibilities are endless. However, if we can count on one thing, whatever they encompass will surely be something we haven’t seen before in the MCU.
What If...? premieres August 11 on Disney+.