Marvel it was often taken into account due to the bad rhythm on their shows. Netflix programs have always been said to be fulfilled, with more installments than they really need per season. The Disney + era gave us performances with lessepisodes, but that did not deter complaints about slow pacing. What if…?, premiered this week on the service, has a different problem: It’s frantic and hectic, like a podcast episode that plays at 1.5x speed.
The concept behind What if…? is simple. Take the key moment out Marvel Film Universe, change one thing, see what happens. In the premiere episode, set during the events from Captain America: First Avenger, Peggy Carter decides to stay in the room where Steve receives the serum for super soldiers. Steve is shot, forcing Peggy to jump into the machine and charge in his place.
You would have to be closely acquainted with the original film to notice the difference, which is why the omniscient narrator is there to point it out. It’s probably the only time the episode stops breathing.
The problem is that this is a half-hour show that tries to present a replacement version of a two-hour film. It’s not even enough to just say that Captain Carter has super powers; they feel the need to show how events unfold throughout the film, all the way to the final battle with the Red Skull. There is not much time for character development, because they assume that you already know the characters well by watching them on the silver screen. (Also, why is she Captain Carter and not Captain Britain?)
Moving from plot point to plot point, a top-notch movie with some small and lots of big changes. You’ll probably want to watch the original film sooner or later, just because there are so many hints and hints that the episode just can’t stand it alone. It’s as if the DVD extra and fan fiction got a baby – which, frankly, the original comic looked like.
The difference is that this is a version What if …? which can be played in MCU sandbox, with voices and similarities to launch (except for Hugo Weaving, who is again replaced by Ross Marquand as Red Skull). Animation is the only way to do this, since the cast and setting change with each episode, so live production would be too expensive.
But despite being owned by one of the most famous animation studios in the world, Marvel Studios went with independent animators. It is a style in the shadow of the target, which is more often used in video games and here it looks a lot like rotoscopy. It’s kind of stiff and awkward, with more attention paid to making the characters look like their actors rather than being more fluid or expressive. Too bad, considering the 2012 Disney short film Paperman uses a hybrid 2D / 3D style that looks similar to this, but with a lot more personality.
Future episodes will explore other deviations from the MCU, such as T’Challe becoming Star Lord or Tony Stark being rescued by Killmonger. So probably some episodes will be far more enjoyable than others just based on their conceit, although Captain Carter is still a solid start. But a good concept cannot completely overcome the problems with animation and pacing.