Is It Finally Time to Watch ‘What…If?’ After Watching ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’?

I’m far from the only Marvel fan to have skipped What If…? when it first premiered last August on Disney+. While I have been keeping up with the other new series, it felt like one that I could sit out as I assumed it wouldn’t be necessary to understand the future of the MCU.

However, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness incorporates ideas from a couple of the episodes which indicates that perhaps it’s finally time to watch What If…?  

There are minor spoilers below for the latest Marvel film, so beware if you haven’t seen it yet. The new Doctor Strange features a cameo from a character seen in the first episode of What….If? and a version of a character that plays off of the theme of another episode.

In one of the universes that Doctor Strange and Wanda hop into, Strange has a run-in with the Illuminati, an Avengers-like group of superheroes. Amongst Professor X, Mr. Fantastic, and a variant of Captain Marvel, is Hayley Atwell as Captain Carter. The very first episode of What If…?, titled “What If…Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?” imagines if Peggy Carter had been the one to take the supersoldier serum instead of Steve Rogers.

Captain Carter’s existence isn’t explained at all in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but she’s also not around for very long before Wanda overpowers her. Even if you didn’t watch What If…?, you can probably figure out who she is. But if you wanted her full story, you’ll need to check out the animated show.

The other nod to What If…? is the zombified version of Doctor Strange that we see our Doctor Strange dreamwalk through towards the end of the film. Episode 5 of the TV show, “What If…Zombies?”, explores how the Avengers would play into a zombie apocalypse on Earth.

Captain Carter and the zombie’s inclusion in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness are closer to an Easter egg than a real narrative choice. Not understanding their context within What If…? likely won’t hurt your understanding of the film in the way that not having seen WandaVision would. But knowing the TV show might enhance your enjoyment of the movie.

It does raise the question: will we see other characters or plot lines from the show in future MCU projects? Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that Marvel will explore two of the most interesting concepts from the show again. Episode 2, “What If…T’Challa Became a Star-Lord?” imagined if T’Challa had been taken from his home in Wakanda and raised amongst the Ravagers. It’s fascinating to see a character in very different circumstances than we’ve seen him in before, but because of Chadwick Boseman’s death, it’s not one that could be included in the future. (Boseman did record the voice performance for the episode before he passed, which makes watching it even more special.)

“What If…Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?” is another enjoyable episode, partially because we watch Doctor Strange use the Eye of Agamotto to try to prevent Christine’s death over and over with the same results. The Ancient One tells him that in that universe, Christine’s death is an “absolute point” and cannot be avoided. This is a concept that I would love to see used in other ways, but I’m not sure that the Marvel writers have decided what rules from each project actually apply to the multiverse.

What could we see in future Marvel films or TV series? The Loki of “What If…the World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?” who takes over Earth after the Avengers are killed. Or perhaps the Thor and Loki of “What If…Thor Were An Only Child?” who were not raised as brothers, resulting in Thor being a rabid partier with little care for the messes he leaves. It seems possible that one of these variants could show up in future Thor movies or even Season 2 of Loki.

So is What If…? required watching for the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Not in the way that WandaVision, Loki, or Falcon and the Winter Soldier are. It’s unlikely that you’ll actually need to see it, though there might be more nods to it like the few in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. If animated series aren’t your thing or you simply can’t be bothered to watch yet another Marvel series (I’d definitely prioritize Moon Knight), you can still skip it.

But the series does present a creative use of the multiverse concept and isn’t very long if you’re looking for some more Marvel content. Some episodes are better than others, but it’s universally impressive how many of the actors reprised their roles for the series. If you want to fully understand the references in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness or try to prep for any upcoming Marvel projects that could reference it, maybe it’s finally time to watch What If…? 

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This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Image Credit: Marvel Studios. 

Nicole Ackman is a writer, podcaster, and historian based in North Carolina. She loves period dramas, the MCU, and theatre. Nicole is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association and the Online Association of Female Film Critics and is Tomato-Meter Approved.