Each different episode of Marvel’s What If…? takes familiar characters and stories from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and puts some different spins on them to create unique scenarios in alternate timelines. This puts familiar characters into unfamiliar circumstances, which sets the stage from some really interesting styles and designs. A lot of work went into crafting these new versions of Marvel characters for What If…?, but the visual development team was able to lift some elements from hordes of designs that weren’t used over the years.
Each new Marvel movie sees a ton of concept art created, most of which doesn’t end up being used in the final product. The goal is to try designs out and figure out what works on-screen. Ryan Meinerding, Marvel’s head of visual development, spoke to ComicBook.com about the characters in What If…?, and how the team was able to take pieces from past concept art.
“So if you start with What If…?, T’Challa with Star-Lord, that’s a very specific direction that we don’t have any concepts for,” Meinerding explained. “I guess what I’m getting at is, the fun of the show is also the super inspiring part of the show, that you get to sit down and think about these things in a fresh context and then do a new drawing. So I think, as starting points, we will often show… if we’re going to do things for Doctor Strange, a lot of it is, ‘Hey, look at these 300 concepts that we didn’t use. Is anything compelling?’ And maybe one thing, like a collar or something, will come out of that. But the concept of an evil Doctor Strange is something that we never explored. It becomes almost like a brand new character, right?”
Meinerding went on to say that, while some specific things were lifted from old character art, a lot of the What If…? characters had to be created from scratch.
“It’s not just like, ‘Oh, we have this old thing we can repurpose,'” he continued. “It’s, ‘This is hugely inspiring and exciting. What can we pull out of the stuff from the MCU, but twist it in a cool and interesting way?’ So, I don’t know. It would have been awesome if we could have reused some things. But I think, for the most part, everything feels pretty much from scratch.”
What do you think of the character designs so far for What If…? Let us know in the comments!