Over the course of its run, Marvel Studios animated streaming series What If…? has seen its narrator, The Watcher, insert himself into the stories he’s telling. Episode 4, What If…Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands, gave audiences their first taste of the character actually interacting with others inside the main narrative as an overpowered Doctor Strange became aware of The Watcher before begging him to intervene and save his reality. True to his word, The Watcher refused to interfere and allowed the tragedy of Stephen Strange to unfold. However, according to Jeffrey Wright, who voices The Watcher, episode 4 might be the beginning of a turning point for the character.
In an interview with EW, Wright talks about how episode 4 represents a “shift in attitude” for the character and gives some interesting hints about how that shift might develop over the remaining 5 episodes of the first season.
It’s a shift in attitude for him, and it’s a shift in purpose and intent and all of that stuff for him. That’s a fun gearshift to play. And he also becomes less disembodied. For audiences too, that’s the moment in which he steps into these worlds a little bit closer and steps a little closer to the audience as well. That’s his moment where he knocks on the door.
The Watcher is is compelled by the danger that Strange is conjuring, obviously not only for himself but for his whole reality. For The Watcher there’s only so much he can only watch. He’s not a voyeur for voyeurism’s sake, he is in some ways made up of these characters. Without them, what does he watch? [Laughs] He’s profoundly compelled by them, and maybe there’s only so much he can take. We’ll see.
It seems as though the Watcher’s rules may not be as unbreakable as his calm, stern voice might make audiences believe. Comic readers are already familiar with Uatu’s inability to live by his code and, according to Wright, the MCU version might be headed in the same direction:
Well, I guess the question is, how reliable a narrator is The Watcher? How trustworthy can we be of his description of himself and the rules that he says he abides by? We’ll see.
Wright also indicated that while these stories seem disparate, the fact that they take place in a multiverse of endless possibilities means that one possibility is the separate threads of each episode finding a way to “weave themselves into the other”, something production designer Paul Lasaine backed up in an interview with Murphy’s Multiverse. Episode 4 gave us our first hints at that, including the return of our tentacled friend. As we head into the back stretch of the series, we’re sure to see The Watcher move into a more integral role, perhaps being responsible for assembling the Guardians of the Multiverse.