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Marvel’s What If…? Celebrates Chadwick Boseman

With the simple question, “What If…?”, Marvel’s new Disney+ streaming series opens an endless world of possibilities for new storylines. One such question? “What if Yondu mistook T’Challa for Peter Quill on his trip to Earth?” The second episode of the series explores just such a possibility, with the late Chadwick Boseman voicing the character of T’Challa.

“It was amazing being able to work with him,” according to director Bryan Andrews. “I think he may have been even one of the first actors that signed on and said, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m gonna do that voice,’ and we were so excited because we really, really, really wanted to work with Chadwick and we just loved Black Panther.”

(L-R): The Collector and T’Challa/Star-Lord in Marvel Studios’ WHAT IF…? exclusively on Disney+. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

When it came to recording his performance, his theatrical training was apparent. “He really wanted to do it like a play,” says Andrews. That included reading scene descriptions and building out the story beyond just his lines in the script. “That’s how he’s trained, that’s what he’s comfortable with, and that’s what he wanted to do – and it was so much fun being able to do that.”

None of the team working on What If…? knew at the time about Boseman’s cancer diagnosis. “He came and he brought it and he had a lot of fun,” continues Andrews. “And it was really great to hear him talk about how he was excited to play this particular version of T’Challa because it was different, because it was a version of him being able to play the king, but the king without the mantle.”

The more light-hearted version of Star-Lord allowed Boseman to play things a little less seriously than his performance in Black Panther. “He was excited to bring that flavor to T’Challa and give it to the audience,” according to Andrews.

T’Challa/Star-Lord in Marvel Studios’ WHAT IF…? exclusively on Disney+. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

“It was a lovely surprise to find that we would have the opportunity, at least, to be in the same space,” says Jeffrey Wright, who voices the Watcher in the series. He had previously met Boseman, but had not had the opportunity to work with him. “The kind of mythic quality that he brought to these performances paled, in some way, to the mythic quality that was his life, in terms of the way that he was going about doing this work, the grace, the dignity, the power. I’m really pleased to share a little bit of time with him on this,”

“He was a hero, for real,” agrees Andrews, who said working on the ending to the episode featuring Boseman was particularly emotional for the team as they made sure he was honored in an appropriate way. “It means so much to us.”

What If…? begins streaming on August 11, with new episodes arriving Wednesdays on Disney+.

About Marvel’s What If…?

Enter the multiverse of unlimited possibilities. Marvel Studios’ first animated series, What If…?, starts streaming August 11 with new episodes Wednesdays on Disney+.

“What If… ?” features fan-favorite characters, including Peggy Carter, T’Challa, Doctor Strange, Killmonger, Thor and more. The new series, directed by Bryan Andrews with AC Bradley as head writer, features signature MCU action with a curious twist.

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