BY MATT TUCK
The Watcher is being positioned as more than just the narrator for What If…?, and his GOTG 3 origin story could signal the introduction of much bigger things for the entire MCU.
It’s a good time to watch these Watcher keys now that the secret is out about his involvement in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. The Watchers were first revealed in GOTG 2 in a fun cameo with Stan Lee as an astronaut. Now it appears that while the moment was pure comedy, there was a bigger plan in motion all along, and it will apparently culminate with GOTG 3.
That leads to the big question: what could Uatu’s introduction into the official MCU preface?
GOTG 3 PLOT LEAK
Marvel’s latest mega-hit, What If…?, is the talk of the comic community and beyond. Hosted by Uatu, the series dives into alternative histories of the MCU, playing a game of what could have been. The first two episodes proved to be major hits in what has become the norm for Disney+’s streaming originals.
Almost as fascinating as the episodes themselves are the stories Marvel Studios rejected. One report is that the showrunners pitched the idea of Peter Parker turning into an actual spider, but the concept was deemed too scary for the PG-13 viewership. Another rejected plot thread, however, is spurring imaginations.
The word on the internet is that the What If…? creative team wanted to feature Uatu the Watcher’s origin in a season-one episode. The problem, they found, is that James Gunn is apparently already planning to use just that story for GOTG 3. What If…? series creator A.C. Bradley told IGN that she “walked [executive producer] Brad Winderbaum through all my hard work only to find out I accidentally pitched the back half of [Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3].”
THE WATCHER, LOKI, AND THE ANCIENT ONE TIE IT ALL TOGETHER
Why is the Watcher’s origin in GOTG 3 so important? His emergence in the main timeline of the MCU could open the door to characters and stories from across the Multiverse, namely those creations from What If…?. By adding Uatu to the live-action Earth-616, that would give Marvel’s creative teams an easy way to make any of those events canon.
Before the first episode of What If…? aired on Disney+, the aforementioned Winderbaum revealed in an interview with CBR that the concepts and characters from the series could become part of the live-action MCU. He did not offer any specifics or hints as to which episodes have the most MCU potential, so that much is left to speculation at this point.
Another piece to the puzzle is Loki and the Sacred Timeline. When Loki and Sylvie confronted He Who Remains, the Kang variant explained the ramifications of killing him and how that would cause an infinite number of rogue branches off the timeline, a concept Marvel touched on in Endgame. Remember that it was the Ancient One who first warned Bruce Banner/Hulk that tampering with the past creates anomalies across the timeline.
Could it be that Uatu’s role in What If…? is much more than simply being the host and narrator? If the Watcher, then, is observing all the happenings of the Multiverse, it stands to reason that the events of What If…? are not just alternate takes on MCU stories, but congruent timelines that are happening in parallel universes triggered by the events of Endgame and Loki.
Putting it all together, that would mean that anything and everything from What If…? would be fair game for the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse.
THE KEYS YOU NEED
When Uatu makes his grand entrance in GOTG 3, complete with an origin story, it could easily make him one of the single most important characters in the MCU. With that role comes a higher demand for his key issues.
FANTASTIC FOUR #13
It is easy to forget that Uatu the Watcher debuted well ahead of Galactus and the Silver Surfer. FF #48 is by far Uatu’s most famous appearance, both on the cover and in the story. Although he was not supposed to interfere, the Watcher warned the Fantastic Four of Galactus’ coming, and he aided in their fight to stop him. However, Uatu is actually one of the FF’s oldest allies, having been introduced in 1963, debuting in FF #13.
With all the hype for What If…?, this key has gained a bigger market following than ever before. A 4.0 sold for $1,000 on August 11; only a year ago, it averaged $388. Moving up the ladder, a 7.5 brought $4,550 on August 9 after it had an FMV of $1,152 in 2020.
FANTASTIC FOUR #29
The Watcher would make his first cover appearance the following year. While it does not compete with FF #48 in terms of famous Uatu covers, the first covers continue to be an increasingly popular trend among collectors. FF #29 also makes for a convenient alternative to FF #13. The only copy sold this month has been the 5.5, which sold for just $175 on August 10.
TALES OF SUSPENSE #53
You get two key moments in one issue with TOS #53. Prior to What If…?, the main selling point for this comic was Black Widow’s second appearance. Now that Uatu’s keys are heating up, having his origin story, which could play out in GOTG 3, is another reason to want this one.
Given Black Widow’s popularity, it is a given that values are up for TOS #53. A 7.0 recently sold for $384 after setting a record with a $565 sale in May. Last month, an 8.0 scored a high sale after one earned $460.
WHO WATCHES THE WATCHER?
Make no mistake, the Watcher is not going to suddenly become the next major star in the MCU. I can’t see him headlining his own movie or Disney+ franchise since he doesn’t really do anything but watch and sometimes give advice. Still, with James Gunn fleshing out Uatu's character in GOTG 3 and the implications of his arrival in the MCU, he has nowhere to go but up.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is a professional writer, avid comic collector, former teacher, and an international man of mystery. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog.