Series Creators Explain Why They Took ‘What If…?’ to 1602

The penultimate episode of Marvel Studios animated streaming series What If…? saw Peggy Carter transported to 1602 where she joined a small collection of familiar faces in solving the mystery behind an Incursion that threatened their universe. Inspired by Neil Gaiman’s 2003 limited series, the episode had its fair share of cool moments that didn’t quite coalesce into the banger it could have been. Still, “What If…The Avengers Assembled in 1602” is a fun episode that pays homage to one of Marvel Comics’ more entertaining alternate universes and one of fiction’s most imaginative authors. And according to the creators of the series, finding a way to work Gaiman’s 1602 into the series has been a priority for some time.

Director and Executive Producer Bryan Andrews revealed that the episode is one that had been in development for quite some time though the team wasn’t quite sure where it would fit. “[We] needed to find the right time to do it,” said Andrews. “It’s so fun to see such different versions of these characters—Loki and Happy are true highlights in this episode.” It turns out that one of the reasons Loki was such a highlight is that writer AC Bradley had her own agenda for star Tom Hiddleston, who voiced the character in the episode. “Ha! Honestly, this whole thing was just my sneaky ploy to see Tom Hiddleston do Hamlet,” said Bradley. “He’s one of the best Shakespearean actors alive, and it was so cool to see him perform Hamlet’s most famous soliloquy off-book.” All jokes aside, Bradley explained that the episode truly came together because of one simple truth: there was a good story to tell.

All storytelling, from the first cave drawings to the modern cinematic universes, is about connection, asking your audience: ‘Is this your story, too?’ The same holds true when adapting beloved storylines and IP. I first seek out the human story—the heart. The world of 1602 is one of chaos and confusion with our MCU heroes trapped in an alternate history. The burning questions are: How did they end up here? How can they restore their world?

AC Bradley

Outside of being full of the potential Bradley described, writer Ryan Little also pointed out that there was another factor involved in choosing to adapt Gaiman’s comic: it was just plain fun. “I’ll always remember the first time I read Neil Gaiman’s original 1602 [Marvel comics] series in high school,” said Little. “We filled this episode with 1602 iterations of characters from across the MCU to share with everyone that same fun Neil created when first exploring Elizabethan Marvel in his original run.” And if nothing else, the creators found the fun in 1602.

All episodes of What If…? are now streaming on Disney Plus.

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