As if being the most commercially successful franchise in the history of cinema wasn’t enough, with the Marvel Cinematic Universe holding a lead in excess of $12 billion over nearest rival Star Wars, Kevin Feige’s all-conquering outfit has now set its sights on dominating both live-action and animated television.
WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier racked up a combined total of 28 Emmy nominations and drew widespread praise from both fans and critics, while Loki changed the complexion of the shared mythology as we know it by blowing the doors of the multiverse clean off their hinges. Clearly not satisfied, Marvel’s What If…? marks another significant shift for the MCU as it blends alternate realities, episodic storytelling, and animation into one hugely entertaining package.
A second season is already in development, while Guardians of the Galaxy spinoff I Am Groot was announced last year. Now, Marvel Studios’ Executive Vice President of Film Production Victoria Alonso hinted that an entire animation division is set to be founded to oversee the canonical slate of projects. In a new interview, What If…? executive producer Brad Winderbaum teased that multiple new animated shows will arrive over the coming years.
“We realized that there’s a lot of cool avenues you can explore with animation. Any project that we create is going to be something that needs to be animated in order for the story to be told. There’s very little desire to take a piece of IP that’s popular because we’re coming out with a movie and just make an animated show about it. We’re not going to do that. All of our animation ambitions are going to still be under Marvel Studios, which means they’re going to be produced by Kevin Feige and they’re going to be born of the same stuff that makes the rest of our content. How will they be connected? Time will tell as the story of the multiverse unfolds.”
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Even more intriguingly, when Winderbaum was asked about a potential collaboration with either Walt Disney Animation Studios or Pixar, he responded by saying that “it’s something that we’d be open to under the right circumstances.” The prospect of the MCU crossing over with the industry’s two biggest powerhouses is something that would generate no shortage of hype, buzz and anticipation.
Expect ambitious plans too, with Marvel taking advantage of animation’s otherworldly potential. Speaking to ComicBook.com, Winderbaum went on to add: “I think if I told you about our animated plans, it would blow your mind.”
“I mean, you’re completely unbounded from any sort of rules, which is both the most exciting and the most daunting thing about it, because then you have to create your own rules. But I mean, it really is, in many ways, the purest interpretation of the imagination of the people behind it. There’s an element of chaos in all things. There’s an element of chaos in animation. Certainly a major factor in live action. Filmmaking is chaos. And how things don’t go as planned and how you end up ultimately with a whole different set of tools than you thought you had going in. In an animation, kind of get to work with this infinite canvas where anything you want can be achieved. And if you can conceive it, you can do it. If you can dream it, you can do it.”
If so, Marvel’s What If…? is just the beginning of the journey into new territory.