The Radio Times logo
We may earn commission from links on this page. Our editorial is always independent (learn more)

Marvel's What If…?: Release date, cast, plot and latest news

The real Age of Ultron has begun.

Ultron in Marvel's What If...? on Disney Plus
Disney Plus
Published: Wednesday, 29th September 2021 at 11:30 am

Marvel’s What If...? has come to a suitably dramatic conclusion, uniting heroes from across the multiverse to take on the infinity-stone-wielding Ultron.

Advertisement

Titled "What If The Watcher Broke His Oath?", the final episode saw the show's only regular character get involved in the action for the first time, gathering heroes from throughout the series for a true battle of the ages.

It was certainly a finale worthy of a multiverse-hopping show with twists that thrilled fans - with all eyes now on the upcoming What If? season two.

The multiversal team-up was hinted at during a mid-season trailer for What If...?, which sees immature Thor (immaThor?) crossing paths with evil Doctor Strange.

Marvel Studios' first animated series spins out of the Loki ending, which saw the MCU splinter into countless alternate realities, setting the stage for upcoming Marvel movies.

If you want to experience the events of the MCU as they actually happened, check out our guide to the Marvel movies in order before starting your next marathon, while we also have more details on other Marvel TV series on Disney+.

For now, here's all your essential information on Marvel's latest series, including release date, What If cast, trailers and more.

What time is What If released on Disney Plus?

Episodes of What If...? dropped weekly at 8am (BST) in the UK, so alarms were needed! The final episode of Marvel's What If...? was streaming on Disney Plus from 8:00AM on Wednesday 6th October.

As was the case with previous Disney Plus originals, the new chapters dropped more or less simultaneously around the world, meaning our friends across the pond had to stay up late to watch at launch – either midnight (PST) or 3am (EST).

Marvel’s What If release date

Marvel's What If...? premiered its first episode on Disney Plus on Wednesday 11th August 2021.

As was the case with all the preceding Marvel shows on Disney Plus, What If...? followed a weekly release schedule with new episodes arriving every Wednesday over two months.

To tune in, you need a subscription to Disney Plus. You can sign up to Disney+ for £7.99 a month or with the annual plan for £79.90 (savings based on 12 mo. of monthly subscription).

Marvel’s What If release schedule: How many episodes?

Here is the release schedule of What If...? episodes, just in case you missed one:

  • What If...? episode 1: What If... Captain Carter were the First Avenger? – Wednesday 11th August (out now)
  • What If...? episode 2: What If... T'Challa became a Star-Lord? – Wednesday 18th August (out now)
  • What If...? episode 3: What If... The World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes? – Wednesday 25th August (out now)
  • What If...? episode 4: What If... Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of his Hands? Wednesday 1st September (out now)
  • What If...? episode 5: What If... Zombies?! – Wednesday 8th September (out now)
  • What If...? episode 6: What If... Killmonger rescued Tony Stark? – Wednesday 15th September (out now)
  • What If...? episode 7: What If... Thor were an Only Child? – Wednesday 22nd September (out now)
  • What If...? episode 8: What If... Ultron won? – Wednesday 29th September (out now)
  • What If...? episode 9: What If... the Watcher Broke His Oath? (series finale) – Wednesday 6th October (out now)

Marvel's What If voice cast: Every returning MCU actor

Rather than recast and risk spoiling their winning formula, Marvel Studios brought back the vast majority of its core stars to voice their respective characters in the What If...? cast.

Revealed at Marvel's exciting Phase Four Comic-Con event in summer 2019, consult the list below to find out some of the biggest names involved in the project.

  • Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange)
  • Rachel McAdams (Dr Christine Palmer)
  • Benedict Wong (Wong)
  • Chris Hemsworth (Thor)
  • Josh Brolin (Thanos)
  • Tom Hiddleston (Loki)
  • Natalie Portman (Jane Foster)
  • Taika Waititi (Korg)
  • Jeff Goldblum (Grandmaster)
  • Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/The Hulk)
  • Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury)
  • Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye)
  • Michael Rooker (Yondu)
  • Karen Gillan (Nebula)
  • Paul Rudd (Ant-Man)
  • Michael Douglas (Hank Pym)
  • Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther)
  • Michael B. Jordan (Killmonger)
  • Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes)
  • Hayley Atwell (Peggy Carter)
  • Toby Jones (Arnim Zola)
  • Neal McDonough (Dum Dum Dugan)
  • Sean Gunn (Kraglin)
  • Djimon Hounsou (Korath)
  • Dominic Cooper (Howard Stark)
  • Andy Serkis (Ulysses Klaue)

The series was announced before the tragic death of Chadwick Boseman, but producer Kevin Feige has revealed that the actor recorded "numerous episodes" which have now been released posthumously (via Emmy Magazine).

Co-star Jeffrey Wright discussed Boseman's legacy and impact as T'Challa (aka Black Panther) in an interview with Deadline, touchingly describing the late actor as having a "mythic quality".

“The thing that strikes me the most about what he has done here and what he has done with these films is that obviously these are films about heroisms and all the complications of that," he said.

"And what we all discovered is the kind of mythic quality that he brought to these performances kind-of paled to the mythic quality that was his life in terms of the way that he was going about doing this work; the grace, the dignity, the power."

Chadwick Boseman voices T'Challa/Star-Lord in Marvel's What If...?
Chadwick Boseman voices T'Challa/Star-Lord in Marvel's What If...? Disney

Series creator AC Bradley promised fans on Twitter that there would be "more than a few surprising MCU cameos" in the show – and we now know that Frank Grillo returned as Crossbones.

Grandmaster actor Jeff Goldblum had claimed that Downey Jr would return for the series (via Buzzfeed), but after the trailers later showed Tony Stark being voiced by somebody else, it's possible he was mistaken.

Another Marvel actor who did not feature in the show is Guardians of the Galaxy star Dave Bautista, who revealed in a Tweet that he was "never asked" to reprise his Drax the Destroyer role – much to the surprise of director James Gunn.

Executive producer Brad Winderbaum discussed the process of recasting the likes of Robert Downey Jr, who delivered such an iconic performance as Tony Stark, in an interview with ComicBook.

"In the cases where we couldn't get the original voice actors back, and many of which were very iconic roles, very identifiable voices, we prioritised the performance over the soundalike," Winderbaum said.

"So you might be able to achieve a perfect Tony Stark voice, but if the depth of the character wasn't there and the acting, the performance didn't have dimensionality to it, it wouldn't matter. You'd be taken out. That would take you out."

How many episodes of Marvel's What If will there be?

Marvel's What If...? was originally announced as consisting of two seasons of 10 episodes, but this plan has since changed slightly as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Executive producer Brad Winderbaum told Collider that the first season is now only nine episodes long and the second will match it, meaning altogether there will be 18 chapters in total.

"We had to push an episode into season two," he said. "It was just, honestly, like everything else, that was a COVID impact. There was an episode that just wouldn't hit the completion date, but luckily we do get to see it in the second season of the show."

There's no release date for the second season just yet, but we'll keep this page updated with information as it comes in.

Marvel's What If episodes explained

Benedict Cumberbatch voices Doctor Strange in Marvel's What If...?
Benedict Cumberbatch voices Doctor Strange in Marvel's What If...? Disney

Like the comic books of the same name, the animated show delved into the MCU’s most famous moments and asked what would have happened if they transpired another way.

Importantly, the anthology show does not alter the existing canon in the mainline Marvel Cinematic Universe, so you need not worry about any permanent changes affecting your most beloved characters. However, Marvel Studios' EVP Victoria Alonso has acknowledged that inclusion and diversity will play a part as the franchise continues to grow.

Each story is confined to its own alternate reality, in-keeping with the multiverse theme that will soon be carried over to the big screen in Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange sequel.

In the first episode, we found out what would have happened if Peggy Carter took the super soldier serum and became Captain Carter. We got a brief look at this in another clip earlier this summer, which showcased Peggy's transformation.

While we were also aware that Tony Stark/Iron Man would be featuring, a Lego set spoiled the premise of that particular episode, showing Tony fighting as a gladiator a la Thor: Ragnarok!

The first trailer also hinted at some darker timelines to be explored, including one which was inspired by the popular Marvel Zombies comic book series, where Bucky confronts an undead Captain America.

Another chapter saw Doctor Strange go up against an evil alternate version of himself, which might well be the toughest challenge that the sorcerer supreme has yet faced. Black Widow got her own episode set in a post-apocalyptic world, where she was one of the only survivors after actions taken by Ultron.

We also saw a glimpse at Thor's alternative existence in episode seven. It was hinted earlier this summer that one episode would show what would have happened if Thor had not found his worthiness, with promo images including Party Thor later adding fuel to these rumours. Indeed, Party Thor did make an appearance, as did Jane Foster, who was voiced by Natalie Portman herself.

In an interview with EW, star Jeffrey Wright picked out the Doctor Strange and Black Panther episodes as his favourites, of which the latter was the final performance of the late Chadwick Boseman.

Who is The Watcher?

Jeffrey Wright

Marvel's What If...? saw Westworld star Jeffrey Wright join the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Uatu the Watcher, a celestial being who watches over the events of the MCU.

Uatu hails from a race of extraterrestrials known as Watchers, whose job it is to witness and record key events from across the various Marvel Universes, without ever intervening in how they are destined to unfold.

Wright served as the narrator of the series and his performance was an early highlight of the trailers, with the actor telling Entertainment Weekly how he settled on a voice for the immortal being.

"A lot of times, we hear a character like this that's very powerful and wise and dramatic, if you look at some of the old films of Greek mythology and even Egyptian mythology... we find that the characters have a British accent," Wright said.

He continued: "And I have never really figured out why that is. Why does every wise man in the history of cinema or wise woman or sage need to be British? So the first time we encounter The Watcher in the comics on the moon, I figured it was wide open where we could go with the voice and how can we craft together an idea and music to his voice that's resonant today."

The Watchers made their first appearance in the MCU in James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2, where they shared a cameo with comic book legend Stan Lee.

It's unclear whether Wright could reprise the role of Uatu in a live-action Marvel project, but he's certainly open to the idea. And if What If...? proves popular on Disney Plus then we certainly wouldn't rule it out.

Uatu's MCU appearance was unveiled in a poster for the series, which stays faithful to the outlandish look the character has always rocked in the pages of Marvel Comics.

Marvel's What If trailer

The first trailer for Marvel's What If...? was released in December 2020, showcasing its sleek cel-shaded art style and a few of the stories it will unravel.

In July 2021, a brand new trailer dropped teasing an August release date and a much more in-depth look at the series. Filled with Marvel goodness, you can watch the clip below:

Just a few weeks later, Marvel revealed the first TV spot for What If...?, which provides a rapid showcase of some of the distinct alternate realities we'll soon be introduced to.

Advertisement

Marvel's What If...? released on Disney+ in 2021. Sign up to Disney+ for £7.99 a month or with the annual plan for £79.90. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our TV Guide to see what's on tonight or visit our Sci-fi hub for more news and features.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sponsored content