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What If...? Production Designer Paul Lasaine Reveals How The Show Almost Looked Very Different - Exclusive

Now that Marvel's "What If...?" Season 1 is almost nearing its close, it's fun to go back to the beginning and use the show's premise of "what if?" on the series itself. What did the early conversations look like for the show? What if the show almost looked very different? What did the creators not want?

So far, we've seen zombified Avengers, Captain Carter, a T'Challa Star-Lord, as well as a host of other story-bent characters (and let's not even talk about Howard the Duck). Well, the series is only just getting started — what with a Season 2 on the horizon — but there's still plenty to discuss about the first season, and what went into making the show. While the voice actors are undoubtedly integral to telling these stories, so are behind-the-scenes individuals like production designer Paul Lasaine.

Looper spoke to Paul Lasaine during an exclusive interview where he revealed everything from how the series almost looked drastically different, to what those early conversations with director Bryan Andrews looked like.

What if...? almost looked very different

On whether or not any of the final designs of any of the Marvel characters in "What If...?" surprised him, Paul Lasaine said, "To be honest? No, we were able to hit what we tried to hit. I mean, there's a little technical thing. Okay, here's the one thing that didn't happen the way we wanted and ended up breeding its own new thing."

He continued, "We were originally going to try to do the entire show completely, traditionally 2D animation — hand-drawn characters, everything basically with a pencil, old school. That didn't pan out. And the reason for that was we had trouble finding enough animators that are able to do human, realistic animation in the U.S." Lasaine added, "There are a few left, but honestly, since the advent of CG animation, that's literally a dying breed. And most of the good ones are all directors now, and they're not animating because they're out there directing." 

Who knew it was that hard to do 2D animation in the U.S.?

Formulating "What If...?" for the screen

Paul Lasaine dove into what the initial meetings looked like with director Bryan Andrews. "The first meetings were really just talking about whether or not we could pull this off and talking about, from my perspective, how this design is going to work and the influences," he said. "Right away he said we really want this to be based on the work of Jason Leyendecker, at least the design style and certainly the character style. So we talked a little bit about that, and the feasibility of it, and knew pretty much very quickly that it was going to be really tricky to pull it off."

He added, "We talked about other artists, influences like Mead Schaeffer, Dean Cornwell, a lot of the early, early 20th century American illustrators. We talked about cinematic influences, a lot of film, more ... a lot of anime, Japanese style anime, specifically, obviously."

But almost more important than what they did want, really was what they did not want. Lasaine explained, "And we talked about things that we didn't want. Stylistically we didn't want it to look Saturday morning. We didn't want it to look cute. We want it to have the gravity of the MCU, a lot of stuff like that. Just what flavor and what target we wanted to hit. We knew very early on we wanted to hit literally the same target as the MCU."

Fans can tune into the final episode of "What If...?" Season 1 on Wednesday, October 6.