What If…? rightly won a lot of praise for its visual stylings but it might have looked completely different were it not for budget constraints. Director Bryan Andrews has revealed that the original plan for the show was to have a “distinct” art style for each episode, but that this was scrapped due to budget concerns.
The information has led fans to wonder what the alternative would have looked like in comparison to what they ended up getting. Some weren’t big fans of What If…?‘s final art style, while others stand by the show’s artistic brilliance.
Critics call the final art style bland and accuse it of lacking identity, while fans respond that it was wall-to-wall gorgeousness, with the Doctor Strange episode getting a special mention.
“That’s exactly what i wanted, didn’t really care for the final style,” one Redditor said, while another pointed out how “Some (many, really) of the still frames from this show are really quite gorgeous.”
Comparisons to Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse or Netflix’s Love, Death & Robots were unavoidable, and fans of What If…? wonder whether the show’s anthology format means it would have benefited from different art styles in each episode.
Others were quick to point out that the different animation styles would have been hard to articulate in the show’s finale, which brought all the characters introduced throughout the season together.
After the initial plan to switch things up was discarded, Andrews took inspiration from The Saturday Evening Post‘s J.C. Leyendecker to create a coherent art style for the entire show while also combining some influences from film noir. As revealed at the LightBox Expo, Andrews explained that dim, moody, lighting meant less work for background artists and set designers. Luckily, it looked quite good, too.
Season two of What If…? is expected to debut in early 2023 on Disney Plus.