In the new Disney+ series What If, the vast majority of protagonists and antagonists featured are ones previously introduced in Marvel Cinematic Universe, but there is one very significant new presence: The Watcher, an omnipotent being voiced by Jeffrey Wright who guides audiences through a multiverse full of possibilities as a Rod Serling-esque narrator. As of now, he is the only character who solely exists in animated form in the MCU, making him a bit special; but could we one day see him rendered in live-action? And if so, would Wright be the actor to take on the part?
The answer to the former question is still up in the air, as Marvel is keeping future plans close to the vest, but I got an interesting response from Jeffrey Wright when I asked him the latter during the What If virtual press day this past weekend. While there are a number of actors in Hollywood who would do crazy things to appear in an MCU blockbuster, the actor told me that he isn’t presently willing to commit to the idea of something like playing The Watcher in live-action, saying,
I don't really think about it in that I just really try to keep things simple. I'm trying, at least in my life, to simplify, even though at times that's complicated. But I try to take it step-by-step, and they asked me if I wanted to be a part of this, would it be interesting to me, and it was, and I dig this character. I think there are a lot of interesting possibilities with the character. So I just take it step-by-step. But as the series implies anything and everything is possible.
That’s certainly a mindful perspective, and a respectable one. It’s healthy to live in the moment, and should the idea of playing The Watcher in a live-action movie or TV show come up someday, he can evaluate what he wants to do then. For now he has a wonderful presence on What If, with the series making fantastic use of his unique voice.
Of course, if Jeffery Wright were ever to play The Watcher in a live-action film or show, it would be a part requiring a lot of changes to his look – either practically or digitally. In order to be faithful both to the comics and the character’s appearance on What If, a production would either have to use a lot of prosthetics, or just go the performance capture route. To give you some reference, here are what the Watchers look like as a species, as featured in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2:
Like all of the other radical alternate universe elements of What If, we’ll just have to wait and see if someday they get brought into live-action – but the first step for now, of course, is the show’s premiere. Following in the wake of WandaVision, The Falcon And The Winter Soldier, and Loki, the latest Marvel Studios series will air its first episode on Disney+ starting at midnight PST/3am EST next Wednesday, August 11.