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Why The Watcher in Marvel's What If...? Isn't 'An Old White Man'

UPDATE: The original interview with showrunner Ashley Bradley was taken down after this article was published. You can read CBR's original coverage as it first appeared below.

Disney+'s upcoming What If...? series will feature Uatu the Watcher, voiced by Westworld star Jeffrey Wright, guiding viewers through different possible scenarios for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Showrunner Ashley Bradley explained how the show came to be, and why the animated series' Watcher won't be "an old white man."

Discussing Film asked Bradley how the project came to include Uatu. "It was actually fairly early and that first conversation with Brad Winderbaum," she replied. "He mentioned The Watcher, which kind of surprised me because he was a Fox character technically because he first appeared in Fantastic Four. He said 'no no no, he’s coming back' and I was like 'okay…'. We had a lot of conversations. It was really important to me that the watcher wasn’t an old white man in the spec. I don’t want him to be Santa Claus. I don’t want him to be this Western white version of God. That was not who the character should be and it can very easily go that way."

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She then went on to explain how she understood the character. "He’s above everything else. He’s above everyone, but there should almost be a gleefulness watching these stories. I keep using this metaphor, which I’m not too sure if anyone likes, but I always compare it to the pizza rat meme that went around a few years ago. Someone next to the subway recorded this video of a rat dragging a slice of pizza across the platform."

'I think that’s what The Watcher is- he’s a guy watching a rat drag a slice of pizza across the platform," she continued. "He has no interest in becoming friends with the rat, living amongst the rat, or doing rat things. He just goes, 'Man, this is remarkable. Look at the little guy go'! That is The Watcher’s relationship with humanity. It’s like he’s watching this weird theater and stories unfold around him and he doesn’t know always if he should be watching. He doesn’t intervene because that’s not the point. The point is for him to watch and observe."

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She also touched on how Wright came aboard, explaining "his voice is just so powerful and his presence, while charismatic, can address authority. He’s also a friend. He has such a warm personality. It’s a nice mixture... The Watcher shouldn’t feel like a god. He should feel like almost another viewer."

Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Uatu first appeared in 1963's Fantastic Four #13. The Watchers were established as being a part of the MCU in 2017's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.

Marvel's What If...? does not currently have a release date. The animated series slated to arrive on Disney+ sometime during the summer of 2021.

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