The trailer for What If…?, the upcoming animated anthology MCU series, featured a shot of a zombified Captain America. Join us as we dive into the history of the Marvel Zombies franchise and examine how the episode could unfold. 

Marvel Zombies is a series of comic books featuring zombified versions of classic Marvel heroes like Luke Cage, Spider-Man, Wolverine, and more. The franchise began in issue #21 of Ultimate Fantastic Four, wherein Marvel’s First Family accidentally opened a door to a reality where the earth was ravaged by heroes consumed by “The Hunger”. 

WHAT IF…? SET TO FEATURE AN ADAPTATION OF MARVEL ZOMBIES

What If Marvel Zombies Hawkeye

An original series simply titled Marvel Zombies followed shortly thereafter, continuing the ghoulish story started in Ultimate Fantastic Four. Several sequels and spinoffs followed thanks to the immense success and positive reception of Robert Kirkman’s violent new entry into the Marvel mythos. One of the stranger, more outlandish projects in the sub-franchise was a crossover with Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead franchise. 

Army Of Darkness #12 & #13 lead into a five-issue prequel comic called Marvel Zombies Vs. Army Of Darkness. This story revealed that “The Hunger” was carried into that reality when a zombie version of The Sentry mysteriously appeared in the sky and began spreading the disease. That Sentry’s true origin was not revealed until Marvel Zombies Return, a direct sequel to Marvel Zombies 2. 

Everything You Need To Know About What If…? Marvel Zombies!

Video: Asher Freidberg

WHAT IF…THE AVENGERS WERE THE FIRST RESPONDERS TO A ZOMBIE OUTBREAK?

What If...?: Here's How The Upcoming Marvel Zombies Episode Could Be Groundbreaking - The Illuminerdi

The first characters infected by The Sentry were The Avengers, specifically Luke Cage, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Colonel America (That reality’s version of Captain America), and Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers). The Marvel Zombies episode of What It…? could adapt this element of the comics directly. Whether or not the Avengers lineup is exactly the same, a team lead by Captain America may have been the first responders to a similar outbreak in this corner of the MCU.

One key difference between the source material and the trailer appears to be the role of Bucky Barnes. The Winter Soldier was an extremely minor character in the Marvel Zombies universe, yet judging by his appearance in the trailer and his confrontation with his undead best friend, he may have a key role in that episode of What If…?. 

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Marvel Zombies Vs. Army Of Darkness featured a brief cameo of a zombified Bucky as he was trying to eat Dazzler alive. Ash Williams promptly blasted The Winter Soldier’s brains out, ending his story in the original Marvel Zombies universe once and for all. While the trailer could be a misdirect, Bucky’s role will likely be greatly expanded in the What If…? adaptation of Marvel Zombies. 

What If...?: Here's How The Upcoming Marvel Zombies Episode Could Be Groundbreaking - The Illuminerdi

How the virus will break out in this new reality remains to be seen. In Marvel Zombies Return, some of the infected heroes fled into different realities, slowly spreading their disease throughout the multiverse. The Watcher put an end to this by sending a newly zombified Sentry through space-time to the events of Marvel Zombies Vs. Army Of Darkness, where it all began. 

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This strange time-loop concept is perhaps a bit too convoluted for casual MCU viewers, and will probably be altered for What If…?. Then again, Jeffrey Wright’s version of The Watcher is the narrator of the series, and their race is known for stepping into conflict despite their oath to never intervene. Despite the comic accuracy or lack thereof, this episode of What If…? is sure to amaze longtime Marvel Zombies fans and horrify newcomers to the sub-franchise. 

What If Marvel Zombies poster Captain America

How do you think that the zombie outbreak will begin in What If…? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on our social media!

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