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The Amazing Marvel Story What If’s Head Writer Says They Couldn’t Get Made

The coolest thing about Marvel’s newest Disney+ original, What If, is the limitlessness of possibilities. Every episode features a slight tweak in the way things play out in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the story tracks the cascading after effects – but there are an infinite number of those tweaks to make, and an infinite way that things can change.

All that being said, there are still natural limits of what can be featured in a 30-minute animated television program, and What If head writer A.C. Bradley discovered that while pursuing an attempt at the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s homage to Homer’s The Odyssey.

When I interviewed A.C. Bradley and director Bryan Andrews last week during the virtual press day for What If, I asked the filmmakers if there were any stories that they really loved during the development of the series that they ultimately couldn’t get across the finish line. Bradley explained that she had hopes for creating a Greek-style epic with characters and locations from the known Marvel Universe, but lamented that the scale of the storytelling didn’t gel with the real estate of the given medium. Said Bradley,

There were episodes that I think we all wanted to do that didn't happen, at least not in the first season. I always want to do a big, angst-y, romantic outer space adventure. I was pitching basically these two characters in The Odyssey, because I'm a dork and I love The Odyssey. And I was like, 'How can we do an action adventure Odyssey?' That one died on the vine because I think adapting a work of Greek literature in 30 minutes is too much of a challenge, even for me.

I didn’t have time for a follow-up (and I doubt she would have told me if I had asked), but there’s definitely a lingering and exciting mystery in that concept as far as who the two characters would be. Thinking about the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it, and the romantic relationships within it, my first thought is that it could be an Iron Man and Pepper Potts story circa the beginning of Avengers: Endgame – with Tony Stark and Nebula perhaps going on a series of Odyssey-esque adventures on their way back to Earth from Titan as an alternative to being stuck in space and being rescued by Captain Marvel.

Thanks to the aforementioned narrative infinitude of What If, however, anything is possible, and maybe instead A.C. Bradley wrote it as a story between Rocket and Groot.

Sadly it sounds like we won’t be getting to see Bradley’s ode to the Odyssey in the new Marvel Disney+ show, but she added that, as wild as they got, her ideas got support from the producers at Marvel Studios, including Kevin Feige. Furthermore, there is still the possibility that any ideas that didn’t get made for Season 1 could wind up in Season 2.

But Kevin [Feige] and the team were very supportive that I was taking risks with other episodes and kind of playing with genre more and more. Hopefully in Season 2 some of those ideas in Season 1 that we didn't get to do come back.

Adding to that, director Bryan Andrews noted that it is in the filmmakers’ best interest not to share too much because of future possibilities. Said the director,

There's probably some that we aren't to talk about that we would really love to see, but we don't want to give anything away because maybe sometime will come in the future where it happens. So mum's the word, but yes, there were some that would be great.

Launching with the question, “What if Agent Peggy Carter got the super soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers?” What If premieres its first episode this Wednesday August 11, and it has a number of great stories set to debut in the coming weeks. Look for new episodes on Disney+ every Wednesday at midnight PST/3:00am EST, and to get a preview of everything else that Marvel has set for the small screen in the coming years, check out our Upcoming Marvel TV guide.

Eric Eisenberg

NJ native who calls LA home; lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran; endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.