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Want to step inside the Marvel universe? With Apple Vision Pro you can - on May 30

Marvel is betting big on the Apple Vision Pro (and only Vision Pro) with its new 'immersive story' experience, coming next week.
Written by David Gewirtz, Senior Contributing Editor
Image: Disney

What happens when you take a beloved if mind-bending animated series and drop the viewer inside -- and I mean fully inside -- its animated world? To be honest, I don't know. But we'll find out on May 30. And I can't wait.

Marvel fans may be familiar with the Disney+ animated series What…If?. It's based on a fascinating premise: what if the events of the Marvel multiverse occurred differently? What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger? What If... T'Challa Became a Star-Lord? What If... the Avengers Assembled in 1602?

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You get the idea. It's an alternate history and alternate imagining of elements of the Marvel universe. I mean, cool, right?

Now Disney, Marvel, and the legendary special effects house ILM are announcing today that they're releasing an hour-long immersive version of What…If? exclusively for the Apple Vision Pro.

Image: Disney

According to executive producer Shereif M. Fattouh, "What If...? - An Immersive Story" is the result of what can happen when you bring together the incredible talent at ILM Immersive, Marvel Studios, and Disney+ to push the boundaries of technology in the service of telling our stories in new and exciting ways."

The possibilities are intriguing. We've seen some of the promise of fully immersive entertainment with Apple's immersive video demos and how the Disney+ implementation on the Vision Pro makes watching 3D movies an absolutely stand-out experience.

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But what if you can combine the story-telling talents of Disney and Marvel, with the reality-bending special effects talent of ILM to create a fully immersive, fully interactive story? Keep in mind that ILM's core expertise has been to use available technology to warp perceptions and create imagery and effects that were otherwise impossible.

Now, they're using a device specifically designed to warp perceptions, placing users in entirely new environments. The Vision Pro's hand and eye tracking has been described as magical -- and now the three wizard companies are giving users the opportunity to interact with a magical world without the need for controllers.

Image: Disney

But there's more to this story than just what will probably be an incredible fan experience. Disney, Marvel, and ILM have chosen to make this offering available exclusively on the Apple Vision Pro and not the far less expensive Meta Quest 3. Due to the fact that the Apple Vision Pro is seven times the price of a Quest 3 (and 17.5 times more expensive than the Quest 2), there are a lot more users for Meta's platform.

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Disney, Marvel, and ILM have chosen to make a spatial computing investment in a much smaller market opportunity. These are companies that pretty much define mainstream, and yet they're investing in what, today, is a very niche product in a fairly niche market.

"This project touches upon the cornerstone of the desire that our studios share to constantly experiment and innovate, and thanks to the capabilities of Apple Vision Pro, we get to place you directly inside a Universe that means so much to us all," explains producer Fattouh. "I can't wait for fans to become the hero in this completely new way."

Image: Disney

That's really the key -- the capabilities of the Apple Vision Pro. Disney, Marvel, and ILM are shutting out a bigger market because they're leaning into the technological capabilities of the Vision Pro.

The next obvious question is this: How much of a killer app will an immersive What…If? be? Will the existence of a unique (and presumably very special) Marvel property on the Vision Pro be enough, in and of itself, to drive more Vision Pro sales?

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My guess is it will undoubtedly bring in any Marvel super-collectors who don't already have a Vision Pro device. But the price point of $3500 is probably still too high to bring in a mass viewership and wildly push the sales needle.

Instead, the immersive version of What…If? is a beachhead, a first landing point for a new way of envisioning what entertainment at its best might be like in an immersive, spatial computing world.

That's deeply exciting.

Unfortunately, the immersive What…If? isn't available yet. You'll have to content yourself with watching this trailer.

But once it drops on May 30, I'll be back with a more in-depth report. Together, then, we'll be able to explore just how much of a reality distortion effect is possible when you combine Disney, Marvel, and ILM talent with Apple technology.

Let me know what you think. If you already have a Vision Pro, will you try What…If? out? But I'm even more curious about you Marvel fans out there. If you don't already have a Vision Pro, is this enough to convince you to go out and buy one? Let us know in the comments below.

You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to subscribe to my weekly update newsletter, and follow me on Twitter/X at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.

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