As the entertainment industry continues to grapple with the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, productions around the world are shut down as casts and crews are unable to assemble to film new movies and shows. Titan of entertainment Marvel Studios has had to fully alter their "Phase Four" plans for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, pushing back all of the movies so as not to disrupt their release pattern. There is one Marvel Studios show that hasn't stopped though, their first forray into animation, Disney+'s What If...? Speaking in a new interview, the head of animation for the series confirmed that work is still being done on the new streaming series.
"I normally split my day between my home studio and the Disney lot for dailies and reviews, but now we’re just doing it all remotely," Stephan Franck told Newsarama. "From what I hear across town, animation has been able to keep the shows in production with everyone safely working from home. Kudos to the studios for pivoting so fast to remote work. It all happened literally within days. Unfortunately I’m also hearing about some projects in development or with more distant release dates being put on hiatus, but a fair number of people in animation are still at work from the safety of their home, which we are all grateful for."
Franck, whose previous credits include Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and How to Train Your Dragon, couldn't reveal much about the show itself beyond its status, but teased that "the level of talent and passion on the team is off the charts and that I am having a blast."
Unlike the other Disney+ shows in development from Marvel Studios, What If...? won't be continuing the stories of characters in the MCU but instead telling alternate versions of what has already happened in the movies fans have come to know and love. Like the classic Marvel comic series that gave it its name, each episode will take an element of the MCU and make one minor change which will lead to drastically different stories from what played out on the big screen. Among the questions set to be asked in the first season are: "What if Peggy Carter had the Super Soldier Serum," "What if T'Challa became Guardians of the Galaxy's Star-Lord," and "What if Tony Stark was stranded on Sakaar."
The series, narrated by Jeffrey Wright as the all-seeing Watcher, will see the return of MCU vets like Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Josh Brolin, Hayley Atwell, Chadwick Boseman, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Natalie Portman, Michael Douglas, Michael B. Jordan, Sebastian Stan, Michael Rooker, Tom Hiddleston and other returning Marvel stars.
The first season of What If...? was previously scheduled to premiere on Disney+ in Summer 2021, though it's unclear if it will keep to that release schedule. Season 2 of the series is already in the works as well.