What If…? is the latest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) series that started earlier this year, WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki. What If Series…?, this is not like before, which uses the concept of animation with a series of stories that are arguably more absurd than before. This nine-episode series (part of the fourth phase of the MCU) is directed by Bryan Andrews with vocals from the original cast, including Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman (late), Hayley Atwell, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddlestone, Chris Hemsworth, Michael B. Jordan, Josh Brolin, and among others. The story also introduces a new character, The Watcher, voiced by Jeffrey Wright. So, how about What If…?, is the concept of the MCU script starting to slacken? Far from it, the cinematic universe was just starting to heat up, after Loki opened a door his story was so brilliant.

The key to the plot of What If…?, first is the multiverse, which is the main concept of Loki’s story. If you don’t watch and don’t understand Loki, you won’t be able to understand the concept of What If?…?. Don’t understand the concept of the multiverse, it’s hard to understand What If…? because surely those who watch will think the story is too absurd and excessive. Second, of course, is the series of MCU stories themselves, from Iron Man (2008) to Avengers: Endgame (2019) because of the What If…? plot, so detailed taking the moment in almost all of its stories. How can we understand the alternative story, if we don’t know the original story? The point, the weakness of this series (also the MCU) is that the audience must understand all the stories of the MCU before this, including the series, especially Loki. This is indeed too complex for ordinary viewers but certainly not for MCU connoisseurs.

What If…? is a series of episodes that revolves around what happens if things don’t go the way they were in the original story. For example, what happens if Steve Rodgers is not injected with Dr Erskin’s serum but Peggy Carter, so that the figure of Captain America does not exist, but Captain Carter. Then what happened to Dr Stephen Strange if in a car accident he didn’t lose his hand, but his true love, Christine. What would happen if it wasn’t Peter Quills who was kidnapped by Yondu, but instead T’Chala in Wakanda. It is these alternative stories that are part of an infinite multiverse. Too absurd? Not at all. Uniquely, this series of separate episodes turn out to be intertwined which is attached by a single “guard” figure of the multiverse, The Watcher. This figure is only a spectator and supposedly should not interfere, but not this time. One big twist in the unexpected takes place in the multiverse at one point in time, and the fate of the multiverse is determined by a series of individuals in each episode. This is very interesting.

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No plot leaks here. It’s just that what happens in each episode is a series of plots with different tones, drama, comedy, horror, to the mystery. Through The Watcher’s narration, the character explains in detail each moment and why things are different from the MCU plotline we know. Too absurd? Of course, but the concept of the story, What If…? able to explain it clearly. Some may think this is too much, but for me it is brilliant. The script is able to develop the plot without being at all forced. If the concept of Loki’s story isn’t absurd to you, it’s easy to accept this.

Talking about each episode, it’s not all special. Everyone may have their favourites. However, among all, there is one episode that I consider the best in the series, even the MCU, namely episode 4, What if…Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands. This story, for me, is the MCU’s darkest and deepest plot, by being able to blend the concept of existentialism brilliantly. The figure of Dr Strange is the perfect protagonist and antagonist to use this story as he is able to play with time using the artefact The Eye of Agamotto. His story gives a valuable lesson on how destiny can not be changed and gives an immeasurable consequence. The concept of this story is far beyond the plot of any story in the MCU, both plot and aesthetic. Unexpectedly, this episode turns out to be linked with other stories towards the end with a climax episode that is frenetic and incredibly excited. Guaranteed, the audience has never seen anything like this.

The What If series brilliantly explores the concept of the multiverse further with a series of darker stories, some of which are arguably the best for their cinematic universe. Unexpectedly, the story of this animated series is able to contribute the best story to the cinematic universe. As I’ve said many times before, the MCU has a very strong story foundation that goes anywhere. The concept of the multiverse is clearly an absurd concept and requires extreme caution in its use. Since Loki, the MCU has entered into a new realm of infinite story development. Will the MCU continue to rise to the top or will it slip? Only time will tell.

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Artikel BerikutnyaHompimpa
A lifelong cinephile, he cultivated a deep interest in film from a young age. Following his architectural studies, he embarked on an independent exploration of film theory and history. His passion for cinema manifested in 2006 when he began writing articles and film reviews. This extensive experience subsequently led him to a teaching position at the esteemed Television and Film Academy in Yogyakarta. From 2003 to 2019, he enriched the minds of students by instructing them in Film History, Introduction to Film Art, and Film Theory. His scholarly pursuits extended beyond the classroom. In 2008, he published his seminal work, "Understanding Film," which delves into the core elements of film, both narrative and cinematic. The book's enduring value is evidenced by its second edition, released in 2018, which has become a cornerstone reference for film and communication academics across Indonesia. His contributions extend beyond his own authorship. He actively participated in the compilation of the Montase Film Bulletin Compilation Book Volumes 1-3 and "30 Best Selling Indonesian Films 2012-2018." Further solidifying his expertise, he authored both "Horror Film Book: From Caligari to Hereditary" (2023) and "Indonesian Horror Film: Rising from the Grave" (2023). His passion for film extends to the present day. He continues to provide insightful critiques of contemporary films on montasefilm.com, while actively participating in film production endeavors with the Montase Film Community. His own short films have garnered critical acclaim at numerous festivals, both domestically and internationally. Recognizing his exceptional talent, the 2022 Indonesian Film Festival shortlisted his writing for Best Film Criticism (Top 15). His dedication to the field continues, as he currently serves as a practitioner-lecturer for Film Criticism and Film Theory courses at the Yogyakarta Indonesian Institute of the Arts' Independent Practitioner Program.

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  1. Meskipun medianya berupa animasi (berbeda dari semua film dan serial MCU lainnya), namun kisah untuk menghadirkan konsep multi-semesta dalam dunia MCU memang sangat brilian. Namun rumor yang berkembang selama ini mengenai film Spider-Man: No Way Home yang dengan konsep multiverse pula, akan menggabungkan semesta trilogi film Spider-Man besutan Sam Raimi dan dwilogi film The Amazing Spider-Man garapan Marc Webb. Hal ini menimbulkan “harap-harap cemas” sebab kejeniusan Marvel Studios membangun MCU selama 13 tahun ini adalah meracik kisah dunianya sendiri. Jika nanti (No Way Home) “mengambil” dunia yang bukan ciptaan Marvel Studios, takutnya kisah multiverse Marvel Studios tak ubahnya dengan pesaing terberat mereka yang sudah menggunakan cara ini, tak lain tak bukan adalah dunia multiverse DC dengan Arrowverse dan film solo The Flash nanti.

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