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Marvel's What If...? Almost Had Wild Stories For Spider-Man And Captain America

Peggy Carter in What If...? Disney+

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For decades, Marvel's What If...? comics have allowed its writers to play around with the canon of multiple franchises, and Disney+'s well-received animated series is doing the same with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The head writer for the series, A.C. Bradley, had many What If...? ideas that didn't make the cut, including some wild stories for Spider-Man and Captain America.

A.C. Bradley spoke to Vanity Fair about a few of those ideas, with one of the pitches actually serving to\ land her the head-writing job for What If...?, so you know it had to be a good one. Bradley spoke about her idea for Captain America, which still had Steve as a Super Soldier, but not in the way Marvel envisioned it.

My idea was, if Steve fell off the train, we would jump forward in time. Steve Rogers is the kind of man that, when he believes something is right, he goes to the ends of the Earth to do it. But he actually is not a very good soldier. He doesn’t follow orders. So if he’s brainwashed by Hydra to believe that Hydra is right, he’s going to go full throttle.

A.C. Bradley explained that because Marvel execs already had an installment in mind where Peggy Carter took the Super Soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers, her premise was deemed too similar to also be packed into What If...? episodes, at least in Season 1. As mentioned, though, it was a solid enough pitch to earn her the job, providing her an opportunity to make many other bonkers ideas happen.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the only creatively brilliant idea that A.C. Bradley suggested for What If...? that was squashed instead of becoming an episode. Bradley shared her pitch that combined a bit of classic literature with Spider-Man's origin story, though the folks at Marvel weren't quite as psyched about the idea as she was. In her words:

I would love to write something that was darker, that’s a little bit more angsty and horror-based. So I was like, Ooh, what if there was a Metamorphosis–meets–Spider-Man story that’s really dark body horror? It would have been hard-R for a show that probably your kids will end up watching. It was a little too dark. So I was like, ‘OK, that’s fine. Can I do zombies? And they said yes, you can do zombies.’

For the sake of the children (who do seem to love Spider-Man, given the number of animated shows for the character), it totally tracks that Marvel wasn't on board with turning him into some horrific monster in a Kafkaesque narrative. Still, you have to appreciate that A.C. Bradley managed to soften that blow by bringing the Marvel Zombies episode to animated life, as that's something comic fans have wanted to see for some time now. That said, I'm still a little bummed we won't see either of the above premises in animation, but maybe there's a shot at more of Bradley's left-field ideas happening down the road in Season 2?

Marvel's What If...? airs new episodes on Disney+ on Wednesdays. For more on Marvel's unique animated series, read the interesting response on how much these stories could impact the MCU.

Mick Joest

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.