What If...?: Captain Carter May Return in Season 2 of the Marvel Show - VRGyani News and Media

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Wednesday, August 11, 2021

What If...?: Captain Carter May Return in Season 2 of the Marvel Show

From director Bryan Andrews and head writer AC Bradley, Marvel Studios’ first animated series What If...? re-imagines famous events from the Marvel Cinematic Universe in different and unexpected ways. Focusing on a variety of familiar superheroes and featuring a voice cast made up of many of the MCU actors reprising their roles, including Chadwick Boseman before his passing, the episodes are a fun ride that ponder the game-changing ways that things could turn out differently just with one small shift.

During a virtual conference with members of the media to promote the new Disney+ streaming series, actor Jeffrey Wright (who narrates as The Watcher), executive producer Brad Winderbaum, Andrews, and Bradley talked about how the idea to do What If...? came about, giving each episode its own unique feel, which character will be featured in each season, the role of The Watcher in this series, what it means to them to be able to include Boseman in this project, and whether they have any unused ideas from the first season that will carry over into Season 2.

Question: Brad, what inspired What If…? and why is now the time to dive into an animated multiverse story like this on Disney+?

BRAD WINDERBAUM: To be honest, it was a stroke of inspiration that happened on the drive home from work one day. I found myself in my driveway, texting with Kevin Feige, back and forth, about what this show could be. By the next day, the wheels were in motion and we were on our way to making this thing. 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 that we were gonna revisit. It had to be in a medium that would allow us an infinite scope of whatever we could conceive of.

Bryan, as the director of What If…?, each episode seems to have their own unique stamp and tone and genre to them. Why was that so important to you? How did you pull that off?

BRYAN ANDREWS: I think that was important to all of us. It’s an anthology, and part of the aspect of it being an anthology, just like The Twilight Zone back in the day, you never know what you’re gonna get. You might get an episode that’s comedy, you might get an episode that’s dramatic and serious, or super emotional, or full of action. All of us love cinema. We all love movies. We love all of those genres. This gave us an opportunity to apply a little taste of a variety of genres into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. One can maybe go a little bit darker, or one can get even funnier. Having that type of variation is written in the book itself. What if this? What if that? When things are so different, so weird, and so crazy, it just opens the floodgates and we can do whatever we want to. That was quite exhilarating, to be able to play in that way.

AC, as the head writer on this, you had to comb through an entire MCU of history to find stories that serve as launch points for different episodes. How did you look at the past stories to determine these futures we’re about to explore?

AC BRADLEY: To be honest with you, when it came to creating an episode and figuring out the story, the last thing we thought about was the, “What if...?” What we all looked for was, what’s the heart behind the hero? How do we get behind the shield? What’s a part of the story we haven’t told before? For me, these characters are iconic. We recognize their silhouettes. We recognize their taglines. But what’s important is how we connect to them. It was about finding new ways to connect to Peggy Carter, to Thor Odinson, and to Doctor Strange. Luckily, we have The Watcher to be our guide because he is also looking for a connection. What drove everything was character, and then we figured out the What if...?

What are the odds that we’re going to see any of these stories continue in episodes beyond their introduction?

WINDERBAUM: We realized, early on in development, as we were starting to get AC’s scripts, and starting to look at the arc of the series that there was gonna be a character that bubbled up and became not more important than the rest, but had a strong relationship with The Watcher, who is really our driving force behind the series, and that’s Captain Carter. We realized, as we started developing the second season, that Captain Carter was gonna be the character we would revisit in every season and continue that adventure. We’re telling a story on a giant, multiversal canvas, so you never really know who’s gonna pop up where and when. It’s very much an anthology, but there’s always opportunity for fun connections to be made.

What taste of the future might this show be giving us, as we are still in the beginning phases of the post-Infinity saga era of the MCU?

WINDERBAUM: It’s no coincidence that this show picks up right after Loki. Spoiler alert, but the multiverse has now erupted in every possible direction and What If…? gives us a chance to explore that. In this next saga, the multiverse is gonna be crucial.

Can we expect that some of these events in What If...? will be a part of the movies as well?

WINDERBAUM: Without going into great detail, I can tell you that What If…?, as a story that exists in the MCU, is as important as any other. It’s woven into that same tapestry and there is a lot of potential there.

Jeffrey, your character is quite famous in the comics lore. Who is The Watcher and what is his role in the series, overall?

JEFFREY WRIGHT: I’m playing The Watcher, who is described in his first appearance in Marvel Comics, I think it was in 1963, as the most dramatic being in all the known universe. He’s a fairly dramatic guy. He’s a fairly powerful guy. He’s overseeing the entire MCU. He’s overseeing the multiverses. He plays somewhat of a Rod Sterling role, kind of narrating, kind of not. In some ways, he’s maybe the biggest Marvel fan there is, watching all that transpires and dealing with certain temptations to involve himself. At the same time, he’s living vicariously through these characters, these stories, this mythology, and taking it all in. He’s got probably the highest cable bill that you could possibly imagine. I think fans can relate to him, in many ways.

What does The Watcher think of all these characters, their conflicts, and the heroes and villains?

WRIGHT: In some ways, he’s defined by them. It’s his life’s passion to observe and connect with them, with their heroicism and with their flaws. Without them, he’s nothing, in some regard. He adores them and is compelled by them, in a way that gives him purpose and that gives his life meaning. As I think about these characters and what they’ve come to represent for those who watch them, we are like The Watcher. The passion behind fans’ connection to these characters is this level of trust, understanding, and hope that is imbued in them in a way that they’ve not found outside of this mythology, particularly now, in this upturned world where trust is difficult to hold onto and to place in any individual. We can always place our trust in these characters. The deepness of that connection, for fans, is a powerful one, and also for The Watcher. They are him, in some ways, and he needs them, in order to be. They’re a big deal for him.

Chadwick Boseman delivers such a beautiful performance as T’Challa in the second episode. Bryan, what are some of your favorite memories of working with him?

ANDREWS: It was amazing being able to work with him. We only got a small moment because our episodes are so short compared to everyone who was able to enjoy his presence on Black Panther or even on Civil War. We had him for a little moment to do our thing, and we’re so grateful for it. I think he may have even been one of the first actors that signed on and said, “Oh, yeah, I’m gonna do that voice.” We were so excited because we really, really, really wanted to work with Chadwick. We just love Black Panther and we love him. What was fun about recording, specifically, was that he was theatrically trained. You get the actors in the booth and you work based on the needs or the wants of the particular actor at play. Sometimes they’d wanna just hit the line, be done, and move on to the next one, but some read it like a scene. He wanted to read the scene descriptions in between and really build it out like a play because that’s how he was trained and that’s what he was comfortable with. It was so much fun being able to do that. We basically got to read lines with Chadwick Boseman. In our non-actor-trained way, we did the best we could, but doing a performance with Chadwick was amazing. It was awesome.

None of us knew what he was going through at the time, of course. He came and he brought it, and he had a lot of fun. He was excited to play this particular version of T’Challa because it was different. It was a version of him being able to play the king, but without the mantle of royalty and all the other things that go with it. It was a completely different spin. He could lighten it up and he could get a little bit more jokey with it. He was excited to bring that flavor to T’Challa and give it to the audience, so we could a slightly different version of T’Challa. He was really excited about it, and we were so excited. We’re blessed to have him in this show. He did an amazing job.

RELATED: 'Marvel's What If...?' Review: Guaranteed Fun for the MCU Superfans

Jeffrey, what did it mean to you, to be a part of that episode?

WRIGHT: I actually met Chadwick, for the first time, at Comic-Con in the bathroom. He was about to introduce the first Black Panther film and I was there with Westworld and we had a really wonderful exchange. He said some wonderful things. And then, we’d run into each other here and there, after that. In fact, we were going to do Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. I was asked to be a part of that and I couldn’t do it because I was tied up with another film, unfortunately. I’ve worked with George Wolfe, many times in the theater. He’s a very collaborator and friend of mine. I didn’t have a chance to work with Chadwick on that, so it was a lovely surprise to find that we would have the opportunity to at least be in the same space with What If…? This being the last performance that we’ll get from him, I find very moving. The thing that strikes me most about what he does here and what he’s done with these films is that, obviously, these are films about heroicism and all the complications of that, what we all discovered was that the mythic quality that he brought to these performances, paled to the mythic quality that was his life, in terms of the way that he was going about doing this work, and the grace, the dignity, and the power he had. I’m really pleased to share a little bit of time with him on this.

ANDREWS: He was a hero, for real. Working on the show to finalize it in post-production, doing the score and the music, he had already passed, so now we’ve gotta make sure nothing goes wrong with this episode because it’s his last. Even down to the music, we want to make sure that everything in it can honor what he brought to the table. We want to honor the character, but also honor Chadwick as well. It would get emotional at times. What was supposed to be a normal work meeting would become emotional because it mattered more. I’m on the verge of being emotional now. It’s still rough. We can’t wait for the audience and the world to see the episode, so that they can enjoy Chadwick again. It’s great.

What made you want to include Marvel Zombies in the show?

BRADLEY: They’re zombies. I think I might have mentioned Marvel Zombies early on, as a what if we did this, pie in the sky throwaway, not thinking that there actually has been a very famous run. And then, Brad was excited and Kevin surprised us by being like, “No, you’re doing Marvel Zombies.” And then, the fun part of Marvel Zombies, at least for me, was to delve into that initial run. Probably more than any other What If…? episode, we drew directly from the comic for inspiration and for actual pieces of scenes because it is so good, and less from the movies. That was actually a no-brainer that we came up with by accident. I made a zombie pun with "no-brainer." I just realized that.

What is your process for connecting heroes with seemingly very different narratives to each other?

BRADLEY: When it came to actually figuring out the T’Challa episode, it was over two years ago and Chadwick was still with us. In the writers’ room, we had a poster that had all the characters on it and we realized that T’Challa and Peter Quill are the same age, or very close to it. So, spoiler alert, Yondu takes the wrong kid. If he gets a little bit lost, they end up in Wakanda, and all humans look alike. That’s where that one started from. T’Challa is an interesting character because he’s not a character that arcs himself, he’s a character that changes the world around him. He doesn’t go through a transformation, he transforms the world. Taking a step back, we thought about how T’Challa would transform outer space? That’s how we got that episode.

How did you figure out which characters to bring into the show, and how did you enjoy getting to work with all of these MCU actors?

ANDREWS: It was amazing, working with everybody. It was truly incredible. Part of the choice of who to bring back came out of the writers’ room, what stories we wanted to tell, and who would be in those stories. And then, it was about availability. Everyone’s really busy and has got a lot of really amazing things going on. Trying to wrangle the schedules to get people involved was tough, but we were able to get so many back. It was fantastic. We had a front row seat to awesome, constantly. It was perpetual radness. They’d come in and we’d get to work with these amazing people who were already familiar with their characters and had done so much in the MCU proper with their characters, and they got to play with us and bring it to a slightly different medium.

The thing that was extra fun was genuine happiness to be able to riff on the character a little bit. They would start getting really into it. It’s a little bit of a spin, off of what they originally did, so they got to play it a little bit differently. They had a blast because it wasn’t the same thing. And I think the audience will experience that too. It’s these characters that they already know and love, and now they get to see them on a slightly different adventure and maybe coming from a slightly different point of view that they didn’t have before. It was very fun and very open, and I think the audience will feel that too. People are gonna love it. It’s gonna be great. It was a blast.

Is there any sort of season-wide story that’s being told, over the course of the first season?

WINDERBAUM: It’s an anthology. There are standalone stories. Much like we do with the films and now the shows, we are trying to create stories that exist on their own terms. If you were to watch any episodes of What If…? and that was the only episode you watched, you’d hopefully get a full experience with a character that lives a rich life and changes dynamically, and is entertaining and emotionally satisfying. But it is also Marvel and there’s always strange alchemy at work, so you never know. They could all connect. We’ll have to see.

Jeffrey, you always create unique voices for each character that you portray. What was your process for finding the voice for The Watcher?

WRIGHT: Brad and I talked about who this being is and how he might sound. There are infinite possibilities to what tone he might use, but there are limitations because I only have one voice. He’s an incredibly powerful character who’s omnipotent, mythic, and dramatic. Those are very interesting colors to play with. I also wanted to make it as personal as I could and go away from some of the stereotypes of the wise, sagely, larger than life character, and try to ground him in rhythms and music that are closer to my own. So, what you hear is what we came up with.

BRADLEY: When we started talking about The Watcher, early on, before Jeffrey signed on, I originally was joking that it was the Pizza Rat meme, as the guy watching this rat pull a slice of pizza across a New York City subway platform. He does not want to pet the rat. He is not gonna take the rat home. He is not gonna become best friends with the rat. But it’s fascinating for him to watch. It’s The Watcher watching humanity and our heroes. And then, when Jeffrey joined and we were talking, what struck me was the way he talked about his son and watching Marvel movies with him. I was like, “Oh, my God, The Watcher’s a dad.” There’s this connection. There’s this notion that he does grow to care about these characters. We all care about the MCU now because you either grew up reading comic books or you’ve been alive for the past 15 years and this has become our pop culture lexicon. And so, when it came to write The Watcher, he goes from Pizza Rat meme to our dad.

ANDREWS: The Watcher needs the multiverse. He needs all of these people and the mythic stories. And perhaps we need The Watcher. He is us, and we are him. He’s watching all of these things the same way that we are watching these Marvel movies. He’s the audience, in a way. That immediately makes it, to a certain degree, relatable to him. People read the comic or watch the movie, and then everybody is nerding out about the thing, after the fact. The Watcher does that, so in a way, he is us, which is great. I think that’s fun. We get to nerd out with him. With what came out of the writing, throughout the season, and then what Jeffrey brought to the table as we went through it, I think people are gonna be pretty happy and surprised with where it goes with The Watcher. He digs it, just like we do, which is great.

WRIGHT: Basically, I had to come up with a voice that was representative of every Marvel fan in the world.

Jeffrey, The Watcher is such an important character in the comics. Could we see that character appear in live-action form? Is that something that you would want to do, in the future?

WRIGHT: What If…? is very much about the idea that all things are possible, so that’s a reasonable question. I guess the answer to it is, well, what if? I’ll leave it at that.

Are there any story ideas that you had, that didn’t make it into this season, but that you’d still like to include or that we could see, in a possible second season?

WINDERBAUM: Yes, there is. We could’ve made 30 episodes, but we only were greenlit for 10. We are fortunate enough to be exploring some of those ideas in our second season, but the world has changed and the fictional Marvel universe has changed, so new ideas also bubble forth. New stories and new opportunities to tell new stories come about, but you will have an opportunity to see at least some of those.

What If...? Episode 1 premieres today on Disney+. Subsequent episodes premiere Wednesdays.

KEEP READING: Exclusive: Marvel's 'What If...?' Episode Count Revealed — And It's Not What You Think



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