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Marvel Exec Explains Why X-Men And Fantastic Four Won't Show Up In Disney+'s What If

evan peters' ralph boehner in wandavision quicksilver costume

Part of the magic of Disney+'s still-new What If...? series is getting a Sliding Doors experience with many of the Marvel characters that fans have come to adore in the past 14 years. But while some fans have held out massive hopes that the canon-breaking animated project would be a way for the MCU to bring in outside characters like the X-Men or the Fantastic Four, executive producer Brad Winderbaum is here to politely sweep those X-hopes beneath the rug, because they're won't be fulfilled with this show.

Brad Winderbaum serves as Marvel Studios' Head of Streaming, Television and Animation, so he's obviously a pretty good source of information about the currently airing anthology What If...? When asked by Collider if the creative team was unable to use characters such as X-Men and Fantastic Four, here's how Winderbaum replied:

We had very few parameters when we were ideating the show, but that was certainly one of them. We wanted to make sure that the characters were firmly rooted in the MCU. It had nothing to do with rights. It had nothing to do with the future stories we wanted to tell. It had everything to do with what What If...? is, which is a spin on an established storyline. So we looked primarily at the Infinity Saga.

Regardless of whether that answer is pleasing to hear or not, it certainly falls squarely in line with everything fans have come to know and expect from Kevin Feige and the Marvel Studios team. Even though Disney+ has unlocked new storytelling avenues with universe-expanding shows such as WandaVision and Loki, with Anthony Mackie having recently signed on to officially become Captain America on the big screen, that doesn't mean the company is welcoming any and all characters into the MCU's fold. Rather, What If...? is giving its superhero-friendly creative team a chance to play around with firmly established properties crafted under Feige's watch, but without the pressure of introducing such a high-profile slate of characters from Marvel Comics lore.

Which isn't to say that What If...? doesn't have all kinds of awesome and surprising moments to deliver for MCU fans, even if none of them involve Wolverine or the Human Torch mixing it up with Gamora or Tony Stark. For instance, Episode 2 featured the final MCU performance from late actor Chadwick Boseman, who brought T'Challa to life once more as Star-Lord for the anthology.

What If...? already has Season 2 on the way, and given the lead time that animated projects have (considering how long it takes things to come together), it's hard to imagine Marvel will find a way to introduce X-Men and Fantastic Four characters into live-action projects so that Season 2 could then twist those stories on their heads. I mean, it's definitely FUN to imagine that'll happen. But it's a...stretch. Mr. Fantastic pun fully intended.

What If...? drops new episodes on Disney+ every Wednesday morning, so be sure to keep watching, and stay updated on everything else coming to the 2021 Fall TV schedule.

Nick Venable

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.