Almost every TV show's writers room is going to produce more content than they can use in any given season. Usually, that unseen content is pushed aside because of budget or time, but one episode intended for the second season of Disney+'s Marvel series What If…? went directly into a closed drawer shortly after it was pitched because it was too depressing to air.
In a conversation with IGN, head writer and showrunner for both seasons of What If…? to date, A.C. Bradley, explained that there is a reason most of the episodes in season two are a bit more hopeful and cheerful than season one: The scripts for season two were all written during the pandemic lockdowns of 2020. “It felt like the world was already ending and we didn’t need to add to it. And so it became kind of an escape and a fun release.”
Not all the episodes that were developed for the Disney+ show during this time were so lighthearted, though. Bradley says that one What If… situation was too much for the world to see. “I did write an episode, which is forever going in a drawer, that was very, very dark. I was calling it ‘Children of Men with Spider-Man’.”
For those unfamiliar with the reference, Children of Men is a 1992 novel (and 2007 film) about a world where society has collapsed following an ongoing environmental crisis and a total lack of human fertility. Both the book and the film are fantastic, but they are incredibly heavy affairs that deal with real-world issues like racism, anti-immigration, and ecological collapse. They’re certainly not in the same tone as the rest of What If…? episodes, which were released one day at a time over the holiday season, so we’re not entirely surprised the episode never made it past the scripting stage.
Still, we’re oddly fascinated by what it could have entailed. How do you tie worldwide societal breakdown with a friendly, neighborhood webslinger? What does that even look like? Somewhere there is a script for this and we’re hoping it sees the light of day eventually in some form.
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