Now that What If…? is finally here, Marvel fans are already excited for more. But we definitely have some questions. The series itself is narrated by the Watcher, but we don’t know much about this mysterious being. The Watcher introduces himself and What If…? right off the bat — “I am the Watcher. I am your guide through these vast new realities. Follow me and ponder the question 'what if?'"
So it seems like the Watcher is going to be pretty important throughout all of What If…?, but we’re not sure if he’s going to have more of a role in the events of the series or if he really is an unbiased watcher. Plus, what is the Watcher like in the Marvel comics? And who voices the Watcher?
Who is the Watcher in ‘What If…?’?
In What If…?, the Watcher introduces the multiverse that we’re about to enter. “Time. Space. Reality. It's more than a linear path,” he begins. “It's a prism of endless possibility, where a single choice can branch out into infinite realities, creating alternate worlds from the ones you know.”
He doesn’t speak at all throughout the first episode, so it seems like he won’t be interfering. By the end of Episode 1 of What If…?, he confirms that he is impartial to everything that’s happening. “As for me, these are my stories,” he ends the episode. “I observe all that transpires here, but I do not, cannot, will not interfere. For I am the Watcher.” But how much can we trust him?
The Watcher in ‘What If…?’ is based on a character from the comics.
In the Marvel comics, the Watchers are actually alien-like beings that watch over the universe. They are the oldest species in the universe, and after giving some of their knowledge to the next oldest species, the Proscilians, they decided to become impartial observers.
This is because the Proscilians used that knowledge to create nuclear weapons and essentially self-destructed, so the Watchers felt so guilty that they vowed to only observe and document how the universe unfolds.
The Watcher that we meet is actually named Uatu in the comic books, and he’s a bit of a rebel. He felt that helping the underlings in the universe could do more good than harm. As the Watcher of Earth, we know there’s a lot of ways he could have made a difference.
Uatu appears in several Fantastic Four comics, and at one point, even breaks his post to save Earth from Galactus. Could we see the Watcher break from his position in What If…??
Not only does he break from his position, but he gets in trouble with his elders. They let him off easy, so he continues watching Earth, but he can’t resist jumping back in.
He eventually lands on Earth in a weakened state after a battle, and because he refuses to reveal who hurt him, Nick Fury kills him — and the rest of the Watchers are not happy with him. Nick Fury is punished by taking Uatu’s post, tied up on the moon.
The Watcher in What If...? is actually not the first reference to the Watchers in the MCU. In fact, it was previously revealed that all of Stan Lee's cameos in the MCU are of the same character. He's a Watcher Informant.
The Watcher is voiced by Jeffrey Wright, who’s been in several sci-fi projects.
There’s no one better to play essentially a god of the Marvel universe as we know it than Jeffrey Wright — he’s an incredible actor who has been on screen for quite some time in some notable science fiction roles. So if Uatu the Watcher ever does make it onto the big screen, Jeffrey will likely take on his live-action form as well.
Many of us are familiar with Jeffrey from his role as Bernard Lowe in HBO’s Westworld, which is set to continue next year. He also played Beetee in The Hunger Games series and helped Katniss save society from its dystopia.
However, Jeffrey’s been acting since the '90s — one of our favorite early Jeffrey Wright roles was as Jean Michel Basquiat in Basquiat.
He’s also set to voice Batman in HBO Max's Batman: The Audio Adventures. But that's not all he'll be doing with DC. He's also going to be Commissioner Gordon in Matt Reeves' The Batman. And now, we’re definitely down with Jeffrey Wright in the MCU.
Episode 1 of What If...? is now available to stream on Disney Plus. New episodes drop Wednesdays.