WHAT IF...? Head Writer A.C. Bradley Confirms Episodes Were Longer Prior To COVID; Explains Cliffhangers
What If...? Head Writer A.C. Bradley has opened up on how the pandemic led to the length of episodes being shortened, while also shedding some light on what the deal with all those cliffhanger endings is.
What If...? hasn't generated quite as much buzz as Marvel Studios' live-action Disney+ TV shows, and one major complaint from fans has been what feels like truncated runtimes for the episodes. The seemingly random cliffhangers haven't gone over very well with everyone, either, though the hope is that they might be addressed somehow in the final two episodes.
Head Writer A.C. Bradley commented on both points during a recent interview with Deadline.
"What If...? comics ended abruptly and really dark to prove that the main timeline is the better timeline," she explained to the trade. "We’ve used that as our reason to cut stories off a little bit shorter. All these episodes could have been 45 minutes. Some of the animatics were 35 minutes, but due to animation and Covid, we cut them a little bit shorter than we would have liked."
Bradley is not wrong, though whether that concept works as well on television is another matter. The "Marvel Zombies" episode, for example, was a lot of fun, but wrapping up with an undead Thanos wielding the Infinity Stones made for somewhat unsatisfying viewing. We're certainly not expecting happy endings every time, but such a big reveal felt deserving of more than a single scene.
The executive producer later mentioned that the MCU has, to some extent, been a detriment, as What If...? is seemingly unable to introduce any new characters. "While we’re staying true to the comics that way, we couldn’t pull many original storylines because the mandate was 'Use the MCU characters,'" Bradley notes.
"For Marvel Zombies, we went back to the original run and pulled some of the storylines from that because it was so much fun and it’s a huge cult classic," she added. "So, when it came to adapting, you pick the best parts, but you can’t show every moment."
What If...? has just two episodes left in its first season, and the second batch is expected to arrive on Disney+ next year. We don't know how - or if - the stage is going to be set for what comes next a couple of weeks from now, but Jeffrey Wright has previously teased a deepening of The Watcher's relationship with Captain Carter.