You’ve gotta hand it to Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige. Ever since he took over Marvel Studios, Disney bought 20th Century Fox, and then became Marvel’s overall Chief Creative Officer, the already heavily interconnected Marvel Cinematic Universe, started grafting itself in a form of mega overdrive—the results of which we’ve only started to see this year. When Feige established more power, he essentially took back the Marvel TV wing and consolidated it under Marvel Studios—Feige runs all their TV now and runs it more like a film studio (there are no showrunners, for example). Part of the TV programming (and maybe film one day?) includes animation and the new series “What If…?” that debuted today on Disney+.
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“What If…?” is already confirmed for a second season, and season one will consist of nine episodes (originally ten, but one was punted to season two because of COVID-19 related delays). But Feige and all the creators are already thinking beyond the origin remix of “What If…?”
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In an interview with Variety, “What If…?” exec producer Brad Winderbaum (“Black Widow”), recently promoted to head of streaming, television and animation at Marvel Studios, said the company already has “multiple” animated series “in various phases of development” for Disney, in addition to the second “What If…?” series and the “photo-real” animated shorts centered on Baby Groot in production.
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“We realized that there’s a lot of cool avenues you can explore with animation,” he told the trade. “Any project that we create is going to be something that needs to be animated in order for the story to be told. There’s very little desire to take a piece of IP that’s popular because we’re coming out with a movie and just make an animated show about it. We’re not going to do that.”
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The producer also noted that, as of now, there are no plans for animated features from Marvel Studios. Though, like anything, those plans could one day change.
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Winderbaum also refuted, or at least downplayed Dave Bautista’s claims—made on social media—that he was “never asked” to return to do the voice work of Drax the Destroyer from the “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise (many and most of the Marvel actors reprise their work on the show, but a few key ones like Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson are notably, and audibly, missing).
“I saw that, too,” he said of Bautista’s tweet (see below). “It’s my understanding that everybody was asked in some way, shape or form, either through their agents or directly. I don’t know really what happened behind the scenes there, but certainly, we would have loved for him to be in the show. So there’s probably some miscommunication somewhere.”
“What If…?” producers, writers and directors have been teasing potential connectivity and crossover from the animated show to the feature films, and it would not surprise—given the advent of the multiverse—if one of the characters, maybe Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell), turns up in a multiverse feature film eventually.