Marvel's What If…? team reveals season 1 finale intel: There's 'a bigger plan'
It's all come to this. After seven episodes of introducing different versions of iconic Marvel characters (even killing quite a few… over and over again) and destroying entire universes, What If…? is finally going to reveal the "bigger plan" behind it all.
Starting with this week's episode 8, "What If… Ultron Won?," the Disney+ animated series will start tying all these seemingly separate stories together before next week's season 1 finale offers resolution. "As we battle toward the finale, we will see some of our heroes again," head writer A.C. Bradley tells EW. "And the Watcher [voiced by Jeffrey Wright] learns a few important lessons about what it means to be a hero and comes to a realization about how much these stories, how much these worlds mean to him."
While the first seven episodes introduced new stories that haven't connected aside from the Watcher just, well, watching and commenting on what he sees, director Bryan Andrews says that waiting until the end of season 1 to finally bring everything together was always the plan. "It was designed to be a certain way, and some people have been vibing and savvy enough to notice that we're slowly seeing more and more of the Watcher's visual appearance as we move forward," Andrews says. "And that was all orchestrated from the very beginning. It's all now coming to an arrow's tip point."
Bradley explains that the What If…? team always viewed the Watcher as "the audience," which is why he just blended in with the background at the beginning but has become a real character as the episodes progressed. "He starts off very distant and literally watching from afar, but for so many of us, Marvel movies have become more than just entertainment," she says. "Marvel movies have become more and more of a cultural touchstone and a bigger part of our lexicon, so the notion that, for the Watcher, as he peruses these multiverses, as he lives through these heroes, as he suffers their triumphs and their tragedies, he becomes also more emotionally invested, and therefore becomes more and more part of their world and wants to be more part of their world even though he knows he's not supposed to."
That leads the all-seeing being into the final two episodes of the season with a major conflict. "Going into the finale, a major source of tension is: Will the Watcher ever break his oath? Or will he remain who he is?" Bradley teases. "Will he stay the Watcher, only observing the triumphs and tragedies? Will there ever be a story that forces his hand?"
Bradley also reveals that while this week's episode "is its own episode, it does flow in to 9. You can watch 8 as a standalone, but 9 is — for once we actually answer the end tag." She laughs as she jokes that the title for the final two episodes could be: "What If the What If…? Writers Stopped Trying to Piss Off Twitter?" But she gets serious as she adds, "It's more just: What If the Watcher Met His Heroes?"
While season 1 was written and completed a long time ago, Bradley does pay attention to what fans have been saying on social media, so she's aware that some people have been shocked by how dark and tragic many episodes have been. "The most liberating part of What If…? has been writing things you'll never see in the movies, which includes killing off our heroes, ending the world, just going full out," she says. "I'm excited for people to see that we're not going in there clueless, that there was a bit of a bigger plan. I'm aware that many of the episodes end tragically, and there might be a reason. I'm hoping people have enjoyed the ride so far, and that the finale gives them everything we promised."
Season 1 was originally meant to be 10 episodes, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic one of those episodes had to be pushed to season 2, and Bradley says the delayed episode helped balance the other, darker stories. "Our 10th episode was a more light, upbeat Tony Stark episode," she says. "I noticed on Twitter we're getting a lot of crap for killing Tony a lot. He has become the Kenny of the What If…? universe by accident."
Check out a sneak peek at this week's penultimate season 1 episode above. New episodes of What If…? debut Wednesdays on Disney+.