Ryan Meinerding has spent a lot of the final 15 years bringing among the world’s most iconic superheroes to life. After beginning as an illustrator on the unique Iron Man, he labored his manner as much as head of visible improvement at Marvel Studios and has spent greater than a decade determining find out how to carry comedian ebook characters into live-action movies. So it was a pleasant change of tempo when he discovered about What If…?, an animated anthology that takes these exact same characters however remixes them in new, and infrequently unusual, conditions.
“I don’t think anyone could have come up with an animated project that I would’ve been more interested in working on,” he tells The Verge. “The endless possibilities that are created by having the multiverse, by being able to ask questions like what if, really means that the creativity is just incredible.”
What If…? is at the moment streaming on Disney Plus, and the premise is correct there within the title: every episode imagines a distinct “what if” state of affairs wherein a small second adjustments the trajectory of an iconic character. What if an murderer began killing off the Avengers? What if T’Challa turned Star-Lord as a substitute of Peter Quill? The newest episode questions what would occur if Physician Unusual didn’t lose his fingers, however as a substitute misplaced the love of his life.
Visually, all the characters are recognizable from their live-action appearances, however with a decidedly stylized look. Meinerding says the artwork type was strongly impressed by famed illustrator JC Leyendecker, aiming for a glance that was each sensible and exaggerated. “The fun of the show is taking something that’s based in reality — in a live-action context — and keeping the animated style relatively realistic,” Meinerding explains. “That’s what Leyendecker did. He stylized and he idealized, but they were always meant to be more real than not.”
Meinerding says the crew didn’t discover many alternative types; from his earliest days engaged on What If…?, Leyendecker was the objective. “I think we were homing in on Leyendecker because of his ability to stylize, to make characters feel monumental,” he says. “If you’re looking at translating a cinematic universe of superheroes into an animated form, there have been a lot of superhero projects that have been done before… What is the version that hasn’t been seen before, but also keeps them kind of realistic, keeps them feeling monumental and powerful?”
It was additionally an opportunity to have some enjoyable. Whereas the characters in What If…? are principally recognizable, they’ve additionally been remixed in fascinating methods. Steve Rogers stays a thin child, and now he pilots a Nineteen Forties tackle the Iron Man swimsuit. (Within the first episode, Peggy Carter receives the supersoldier serum meant for Steve.) T’Challa doesn’t simply don Star-Lord’s leather-based jacket and masks; he modifies these round him, turning the Ravagers from a shady legal syndicate right into a Robin Hood-like group making an attempt to do good.
Within the fourth episode, viewers get to see two sides of Physician Unusual, one warped from absorbing highly effective creatures. “So much about designing for animation is about silhouette, simplifying, and making characters very readable,” Meinerding explains. “The idea of being able to push Doctor Strange’s collar just that much farther, so he could feel a little more evil… and also just a little more animated. Each character has a version of that.”
In line with Meinerding, the most important problem wasn’t developing with new concepts — it was conserving tempo with the present’s writers. “There is a definite opportunity to push things,” he says. “But in a lot of ways, they were pushing things with the story so much, with how far they were deviating from the MCU timeline, that we really were just doing our best to keep up.”