There is a lot potentially on the line for the next Disney+ Marvel series, “What If…?” Yes, it’s a series built on the alternate universes we’ve never seen before, but who’s to say those might not become enormously important later?
We already know that Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell) will play an ongoing significant role in the animated series and that Chadwick Boseman’s final performances as T’Challa will also be a big part of the series. For all we know, Hayley Atwell will reprise Captain Carter in the future, live-action MCU multiverse, and part of Boseman’s (and, thus, Black Panther’s) death will be explained through “What If…?”
Not only is there a lot riding on “What If…?” for the future of the MCU, but there’s also a lot riding on how animated (and other short-form) stories within the MCU will be told going forward. What are the limits on something like “What If…?” Is there anything the animated series is not allowed to do?
It turns out that there are some limitations for “What If…?” Despite our awareness that there will be an episode about Marvel Zombies, there’s even a concept that was deemed too dark.
The terrifying tale of Man-Spider was too terrifying to be included.
At this point, virtually all Marvel comic book characters have dealt with some real darkness, and one of the heroes whose dealt with some surprisingly brutal stuff is the young Peter Parker, AKA Spider-Man. Parker’s origin has baked-in tragedy, with the death of his Uncle Ben acting as the moment Peter pivots from using his powers for selfishness towards becoming the Spider-Man we all know and love.
Spider-Man has endured all kinds of horrifying stories over the years, and sometimes they’re made even more horrific vis a vie a “What If…?” story. For example, there’s a famous story called “Kraven’s Last Hunt” where Kraven temporarily incapacitates Parker so Kraven can take over the role of Spider-Man and prove he could be better at being the web-slinger. In a “What If…?” comic story, Kraven kills Parker, and it’s implied that Kraven devours both a bunch of spider and Parker himself in order to take on the dead hero’s powers.
It turns out there is another freaky Spidey story the animated “What If…?” ultimately did not cover: Man-Spider. “There were a couple of episodes that were a little too dark,” head writer A.C. Bradley revealed in an interview with Bro Bible. “There was an original ‘What If’ run where Spider-Man turns into a real spider, and that was just too dark and too body horror for the PG-13 [rating].”
Man-Spider appears in multiple stories within the 1990s Spider-Man cartoon. Yes, the results are always pretty darn gruesome with Peter Parker experiencing a secondary mutation causing him to turn more fully into a giant spider. For now, there’s no Man-Spider to be seen in “What If…?” but that could always change in future seasons. The first episode of the new animated series hits Disney+ on August 11.