'​​What If' on Disney+: Who Is The Watcher?

Disney+ is now streaming Episode 1 of What If, a new Marvel show that enters the multiverse to reveal what would have happened if some events in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) went differently.

Episode 1, for example, asks what would have happened if Peggy Carter (played by Hayley Atwell) had taken the super-soldier serum rather than Steve Rogers (Chris Evans in the films, Josh Keaton in What If), while other episodes see T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) become Star Lord and classic Marvel characters reimagined as zombies.

All of this is overseen by a mysterious intergalactic figure who calls himself The Watcher, voiced by Westworld star Jeffrey Wright.

Who Is the Watcher In What If?

In Episode 1, this shadowy character introduces himself and the show thus: "Time. Space. Reality. It's more than a linear path. 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.

"I am The Watcher. I am your guide through these vast new realities. Follow me and ponder the question 'what if?'"

He then bookends the show with another voiceover saying, "as for me, these are my stories. I observe all that transpire here, but I do not, cannot, will not interfere. For I am The Watcher."

Though only known as The Watcher here, in the comics he is known as Uatu The Watcher. First introduced in a 1963 Fantastic Four comic (though not named until a Tales of Suspense series the following year), Uatu is a member of the Watchers species, an alien race who have tasked themselves to monitor the activities of other species across space.

what if watcher
The Watcher in "What If." Disney+

In the comics lore, Uatu is the Watcher tasked with overseeing Earth and the solar system.

The character has some history with the What If brand. He was the narrator of the What If comics that ran from 1977 to 1984. In these, which asked questions like what would have happened had Spider-Man joined the Fantastic Four, Uatu lived on a base on the moon.

In the Disney+ series, he is seen as a shadow among the stars, though the silhouette of him does keep the bald head and large spiky collar that made the character distinctive.

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Most recently, Uatu appeared in the Avengers Assemble animated series and in an episode of Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. In both of these, he was voiced by Shawshank Redemption and Billions actor Clancy Brown.

Speaking to Games Radar, Wright said of the character, "[Marvel] described him as being the caretaker of the series. But I just went back and dug into the comics to find out who he was and discovered him in 1963.

"I went back in and discovered him there where he's described as the most dramatic being in all the known universes, or something to that effect. That was a great beginning—to see his physical scale but also the scale of his powers. That gave me a lot of information in terms of what kind of voice he might have. What voice would he have that would echo throughout the multiverse? Then I just tried to play that as best I could."

What If airs Wednesdays on Disney+.