Star Wars: Visions has a lot more fun than Marvel’s What If…?

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Star Wars: Visions has a lot more fun than Marvel’s What If…?

Both Marvel and Star Wars can get a little too serious for their own good. Their stories are often so focused on what happened before, or what’s coming next, that they forget about the fact that people are tuning in to watch thrilling adventures about superheroes and space wizards. What I’m saying is, both franchises often put canon ahead of fun. But Disney Plus has offered them a chance to cut loose a little in the form of the animated anthologies What If…? and Star Wars: Visions. The two series take very different approaches to the concept of messing with established stories and characters — and some extra freedom means that Star Wars ends up being a lot more exciting.

The premise of What If…? is pure comic book fodder: each episode imagines a scenario in which a pivotal moment from the MCU goes in a completely different direction. In the very first episode, Steve Rodgers remains a skinny kid while Peggy Carter becomes a shield-wielding supersoldier. Later stories imagine Thor as a single-child-turned-interstellar-party-animal and explore how T’Challa’s inherent goodness can change anyone around him, whether it’s some space scavengers or Thanos himself. There are episodes with zombies and robot armies, and the most recent ponders what would happen if Ultron defeated the Avengers.

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Most of the episodes are entertaining twists, particularly for long-time Marvel fans. I particularly enjoyed seeing superpowered beings turned into various types of undead monsters. (If there isn’t a Marvel zombies video game in the works, I’ll be very disappointed.) But the series never strays too far from the MCU. These are still the characters fans know from the live-action movies and shows — they even look and sound the same, thanks to What If…?’s JC Leyendecker-inspired art style and the fact that stars like Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston reprised their roles. And each of the storylines is intrinsically tied to something that’s already happened. They’re even starting to tie in with each other rather than being standalone. The twists are fun, but they also only make sense if you’re already invested.

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