Dive into the latest Marvel series, What If…?, and Discover the Power of the immersive Apple Vision Pro

In a world where the real and fictional increasingly merge through technology, and storytelling is layered upon the real world more and more each day, the latest experiment from Marvel with the Apple Vision PRO seeks to redefine the frontiers of experience. What If…? Marvel and Apple invite users into the Marvel comics universe previously experienced only through print or on-screen, so does this experiment herald the future of entertainment – or will it fall short of its artistic goals?

The Promise of Vision PRO: A Technological Marvel?

The Apple Vision PRO is the latest example of a tech cliché, a $3,500 gadget with see-through displays and eye-tracking which, like cuisine with foams and chlorophyll, appears ripped from the pages of a sci-fi story. Marvel has released a What If…? immersive story for Vision PRO users, which drops you into a multiverse. Will I regret buying one?

A Story, Not a Game

Advocates of ‘What If…?’ would prefer to position the experience as a story not a game, a distinction that might seem academic but illustrates a key facet of the Vision PRO experience. The story ferries the user through the multiverse, dropping them in to fight alongside and against Marvel’s broad pantheon of heroes and villains – all without needing to move from the sofa itself. However, despite its nature as an adventure, this experience takes place in an environment largely controlled by exposition, and on the edge of interactivity as tedium.

The Challenge of Immersive Engagement

Perhaps the most significant challenge for ‘What If…?’ is the narrative itself, which doesn’t make the most of the Vision PRO’s sense of place, immersing users instead in a story with a predetermined path in which they have the illusion of agency but none of its substance. Given their high-fidelity controls, those with the headset on might find that the plot bends to their will only within certain prescribed parameters. Rather than feeling like they’re part of an exciting expansion of the sprawling Marvel superhero universe they’ve just been invited into, users might find that the ride is predetermined regardless of what they do.

A Glimpse of What Could Be

But for the story to end when it does is also to offer that tantalising taste of more to come: more chapters, but also more universes to explore, and other meaningful ways for users to interact. This is the same vision shared by Disney and Marvel Studios. It’s a vision of pushing the storytelling experience as deeply as possible into new mediums.

A Prospective Future

Marvel and Apple’s partnership is just the beginning. What If…? marks the first of many conceptual peaks that Disney’s investment is hoping to conquer. The purpose of the show isn’t just to entertain, it’s to provide storytellers with a new set of tools, which will allow them to push narratives even further into uncharted territory.

Toward a Broader Horizon

What If … ? is an incomplete but tantalising taste of a possible future for entertainment. Though its first season is unpolished, the ambition of the project and the nature of the company behind it signal a desire to explore undeveloped terrain. For Marvel and Apple, the search for storytelling’s next step is an open-ended endeavour still to be defined.

About PRO

I mean the word ‘pro’ here in the dual sense of the phrase ‘Apple Vision PRO’, as well as the professional aspiration and skill that goes into the Marvel-Apple partnership: PRO stands for this level of excellence; for a determination to be on the creative cutting-edge of reimagining the possibilities of storytelling using tech; a determination to move the creative, personal, virtual and technological frontiers.

The frequent use of the term ‘pro’ in this article reveals the professional-grade polish and lofty aspirations of ‘What If … ?’, as a model of where the future of interactive entertainment might take us – whether through an enhanced sense of narrative immersion or an expanded spectrum of user interaction. ‘What If … ?’ and the Apple Vision PRO are aiming to set new benchmarks, designing the future of professional digital storytelling.

May 30, 2024
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