6.5/10 Marvel’s first foray into the world of animation, “What If…?” has an interesting premise with its alternate realities but the nine episode first season tends to be a little hit or miss. When the show essentially just replays certain Marvel films but only swaps out a couple things and condenses the film, it ends up being a waste of time. For example, in the pilot, we get a rehashed “Captain America: The First Avenger” except they swap out Steve Rogers for Peggy Carter as she becomes Captain Carter. This change isn’t major enough to warrant retelling a story we have already seen and several episodes early into the season take this approach and fall short. When the show excels, like in the third episode, we see some major characters getting killed off and instead of retelling a film we’ve already seen, we get a completely new and original story where everything has been changed. Despite having several different writers throughout the season, I was unaware before viewing this season that only one director, Bryan Andrews, directed the entire season. Andrews’ direction is strong as the show is visually stimulating with some exciting fight choreography and beautiful visual elements. The score is strong and since each episode is roughly half an hour long, the pacing works well, making this a quick binge watch. Although there are achievements to admire, this season does have its shortcomings. Besides a few weak episodes (episodes 1, 2, 7 end up as the weakest), another problem is the inconsistent voice casting. While a ton of Marvel actors come back to reprise their famous roles vocally, we get quite the absence of other actors, which feels weird since substitute voice actors take their place. Despite sounding similar to the original actors, we can still hear that something is off. Chris Evans (Captain America), Hugo Weaving (Red Skull), Dave Bautista (Drax), Chris Pratt (Peter Quill), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark), Liv Tyler (Betty Ross), William Hurt (General Ross), Brie Larson (Captain Marvel), Tom Holland (Spider-Man), Jeff Bridges (Obadiah Stane), Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts), Letitia Wright (Shuri), Rene Russo (Frigga), James Spader (Ultron), Zoe Saldana (Gamora) and more do not return, leaving a big hole in the vocal cast. While some are more noticeable than others, Peter Quill and Ultron’s voices probably stood out the most as not coming from the original actor. Dave Bautista even went on record to say that Disney didn’t even ask him to come back to voice Drax, which seems rather ridiculous and insulting to these actors. Scheduling conflicts is one thing (although voice work can be done from a ton of remote places) but not even asking actors to come back is another thing entirely. Finally, the Dairy Queen product placement, no matter how brief, is still blatant and annoying. Despite only half the voice cast, some weaker episodes and unnecessary product placement, some fantastic visuals, cool concepts (introducing zombies was fun), perfect pacing and a strong score make this fun for hardcore Marvel fans who are already invested into this universe but won’t pull anyone new in who isn’t already a fanboy.

#WhatIfMarvelIgnoredHalfTheirCast? / #WhatIfKevinFeigeWasntWoke? / #WhatIfDairyQueenThrewMoneyAtUs? / #WhatIfDarcyLewisWasEvenMoreAnnoying? / #WhatIfThorWentFullFratBro? / #WhatIfDrStrangeWasInGroundhogsDay?

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