Marvel's What If...? team promises 'resolution' in season finale and teases season 2
The season 1 finale (streaming Wednesday on Disney+) is appropriately titled "What If... The Watcher Broke His Oath?" and features the all-seeing narrator doing whatever he can to stop Ultron (voiced by Ross Marquand), who now wields all the Infinity Stones and just became aware of the multiverse. "It goes places you don't expect," director Bryan Andrews tells EW. "I know people are starting to get a sensation that things are building to something — and they are. And craziness ensues."
While the Watcher has remained in the background of the series so far, it was Ultron's new mission of conquering the multiverse that shook the powerful alien into finally reaching out to one of the heroes he refused to interact with before — Doctor Strange Supreme (Benedict Cumberbatch), who has been trapped in his destroyed universe prison ever since. And according to head writer AC Bradley, Strange Supreme isn't the only character returning in the finale.
"We will pop into and re-meet some of our heroes from the previous episodes, including the lovely Captain Carter [Hayley Atwell], Strange Supreme, Party Thor [Chris Hemsworth], and even Killmonger [Michael B. Jordan]," Bradley reveals. "Early on in the first season, like day one talking about it, there was this notion of we're creating all these great heroes, but we only get to sit with them for 20 or 30 minutes. Wouldn't it be great to see them again in the finale? And then once that decision was made, it liberated me to make the endings a little bit darker and bigger, knowing that we can give some sort of resolution in the finale."
While most, if not all, of What If...? episodes so far have ended on cliffhangers, the creative team promises there will be payoff in the finale. "There's a degree of resolution where it feels like all the stuff that's been percolating across the episodes, the adventure that we bring you into for the ending, ends, to a certain degree," Andrews says. "All these universes, when we're done with our episode, those universes continue. It's an ongoing cinematic universe; there is stuff that happens yet to come that maybe we will see and maybe we will not see. But we don't necessarily want to have it all tied up in a perfect bow. There is a level of buttoning up with a certain degree of things that we get into with a certain storyline."
And while there may be yet another cliffhanger ending waiting in the finale, at least we know season 2 is coming since Bradley says that all the episodes of next season have already been written. "Going into the second season, we're sticking with anthology form, and it's going to be all-new stories, lots of fun, new heroes, and pulling more from Phase Four than we were obviously able to this season," she says. "Hopefully, we'll see hints of Eternals and Shang-Chi and the Black Widow characters. The fun of What If...? is that we get to explore the entire infinite multiverse, so we try and bounce around as much as we can. I want to play with all these characters, and as much as I love Captain Carter, we've got to share the love. I'm very excited to show new worlds, new heroes."
Bradley also hints that while many of season 1's episodes featured "big, let's end the world, let's kill everyone" arcs, season 2 episodes will "focus a lot more on the character stories and these heroes and showing a different side of them that people don't expect and hopefully they can relate to."
"We're not a show that's designed to set up Avengers 5," she adds. "It's supposed to be just about entertainment and what these heroes mean to us. When I took the job, one of my rules was let's be free. We're in the multiverse — we should be as free as can be and go and run into the wild, into the stories the movies will never do, into the stories the TV shows will never do, and show both Disney and the fans all the possibilities of these characters."
And Bradley is aware that most of the episodes veered into much darker territory than what fans may have been expecting from the MCU — especially since they kept killing Tony Stark (voiced by Mick Wingert) over and over again, she adds with a laugh. But it turns out the darkest episode, featuring Strange Supreme destroying his entire universe, could have actually been a lot darker.
"Originally in the script, regular Strange, his death was a lot more gruesome," Bradley reveals. "He was actually beaten to death by the Eye of Agamotto. Then when the storyboard artist took it over, they were like, 'We're going to make this a little bit more visual and fantastical instead of horrifically violent.' Because I went too dark. But this was our chance to be big comic book dorks and show the different sides and have some fun. And the original What If...? comic books were notorious for having tragic endings and twist endings which I wanted to play with. And we were free to go wherever we wanted."
Check out EW's exclusive sneak peek at the What If...? season 1 finale above now.
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