Marvel: ‘What If?’ Final Review

Screenshot of Gamora and T’Challa from Marvel’s ‘What If?’ on Disney+. Copyright goes to Walt Disney Studios and Marvel Studios.

Hey! Hallie here!

We’re finally to the last three episodes! An announcement for season two has already been made with the promise of following more characters, but I honestly haven’t decided if I’m going to review those yet. However, these episodes were much better than my opinions of the last few! The concepts explored here were fun and interesting, and we finally got to see all the episodes connect in the finale. So here’s your SPOILER warning for my last review for season one!

‘What if… Thor Were an Only Child?’:

This episode was one of the least serious episodes in this entire series. It was really written just to have fun with a singular concept. Thor having become so irresponsible that he enters Earth as that one college jock that lives for frat parties. Evidently they decided that the only thing that could turn Thor into this version of himself is a lack of Loki’s tendency to err on the side of caution. And a lack of Loki in general. However, I’d say this title is a bit misleading. Loki’s lack of connection to Thor doesn’t have any major impact on the story. And Loki is still present, just as a frost giant without much intelligence. Essentially, connecting the concept of Loki not being Thor’s brother to Thor throwing a giant party is a bit of a stretch. But it doesn’t hinder the story. It’s fun to see so many people, including various Guardians and the Grandmaster, get in on Thor’s party. Maria Hill’s reaction to Jane and Darcy getting wrapped up in the party despite the fact that they were the ones to alert SHIELD of danger, is priceless. And Darcy marrying Howard the Duck might just be the best part of the entire episode. But, of course, Thor’s messing up Earth with his huge party so Maria Hill calls in Captain Marvel. I can’t say Carol is acting very much like herself here. She’s simply stern and that’s about it. While Carol tries to beat up Thor multiple times, Jane is encouraged to go tell on Thor to his mom. It’s ultimately Frigga who ends the entire thing by announcing to Thor that she’s coming down to Earth to make sure he isn’t making trouble. Which, naturally, forces Thor to clean up before she arrives. Nothing majorly interesting happens in this episode, but I liked it anyway. With series like “What If…?”, not all scenarios have to be profound. Some can just be amusing.

‘What If… Ultron Won?’:

This episode is mostly setup for the finale. We’re introduced to the idea that Ultron was actually able to get his organic body, who turned into Vision in the MCU, and that victory was enough for him to wipe out the majority of the Avengers. This opening pretty strictly follows the “all or most of the Avengers have died” setup we’ve seen in a few episodes already, but it doesn’t ruin the concept. The only surviving Avengers are Natasha and Clint, who have spent quite a bit of time fighting though Ultron’s robot army in an attempt to find a way to stop him. Meanwhile, Ultron destroys nearly all of civilization, manages to run into Thanos, and makes everything worse by killing him and getting the rest of the Infinity Stones. I thought it was kind of hilarious that Ultron was able to kill Thanos by just cutting him in half with the mind stone. As if Vision could have done that in ‘Infinity War’ and saved everyone a lot of time. Anyways, the Infinity Stones elevate Ultron to a higher level of understanding and awareness. I was expecting the Watcher to get dragged into the story, but watching Ultron turn around and approach the Watcher was chilling. The Watcher retreats to check up on Natasha and Clint in the hopes of seeing them succeed in their efforts to get rid of Ultron. The scene that occurs after this proves two things. Clint’s defeatist attitude isn’t all that endearing and Natasha is SO MUCH better in ‘What If…?’. Natasha’s sarcasm is charming, but beyond this Natasha is capable and no longer overly sexualized. In this episode alone she kicks ass with Steve’s shield, makes all of the plans to destroy Ultron, and renews the Watcher’s faith in humanity after Clint nearly disappoints him. She’s truly the standout here. The end of the episode sees Natasha team up with Zola to try to infect Ultron with Zola’s computer program. It leads to Clint’s death, which isn’t all that sad considering how frustrating he was throughout the entire episode. As that happens, Ultron nearly kills the Watcher while challenging him to intervene. So he does. He contacts the only other person who’s become aware of his existence, Stephen Strange, and decides to get his hands dirty.

‘What If… The Watcher Broke His Oath?’:

This finale starts out pretty well, though I do have some gripes about Peggy’s introduction. It starts with the opening sequence from ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’, which comes off as more cringe-worthy than fun. That said, I laughed when T’Challa was introduced by saving poor Peter Quill who works at a Dairy Queen, from his god-like father. We also finally get to see Gamora! This version of Gamora apparently teamed up with Tony and single-handedly killed Thanos. I really wish we could have had a whole episode about this, but it’s still a nice concept. Thor is taken by the Watcher literally kicking and screaming, and Killmonger is here too. For some reason. They’re all brought to Stephen Strange and the Watcher establishes them as the Guardians of the Multiverse. Their plan to defeat Ultron is to use a very convenient device Gamora has that destroys Infinity Stones. It seems a bit too convenient, but just wait! It is. After the group meets up with Natasha, they try to use the device on Ultron. It fails because it was made to destroy the Infinity Stones in Gamora’s universe only. The fight that they discover this in is, let’s be honest, mostly being done by Stephen Strange. Strange uses a really strong protection spell to make all of our heroes impervious to any and all damage, meanwhile he packs a punch with all of the different horrific beasts he consumed in his solo episode. It’s Natasha who ends it all, though, by vaulting herself up to Ultron while Stephen’s distracting him and infecting him with the virus she obtained last episode. And then Killmonger makes the unsurprising decision to just take the Infinity Stones for himself. Which lasts all of five seconds. Is it just me, or did the ‘What If…?’ series make Killmonger seem like an annoying nuisance? None of the interesting parts of his character seem to be intact. Stephen is the villain/anti-hero of interest here. Despite the horrible things he’s done, and his horrible episode, Stephen fights the darkness within him, literally, in every scene. And It’s Stephen who sacrifices himself and becomes a Watcher to end the scramble for the Infinity Stones. The episode ends with the Watcher promising to defend the multiverse. He’s definitely broken his oath now.

That’s it! While I didn’t like everything these episodes did, I really liked them overall! Party Thor was a nice break from the more serious themes before we dove into the last two episodes. I loved the redemption arc they created for Stephen Strange as well as the friendship between Peggy and Natasha. And Natasha herself was so well done in every episode she was in. But Gamora’s concept, while good, was all but wasted and everything interesting about Killmonger didn’t seem to be present in these episodes. Just like the rest of the season, there were some high highs and low lows. But the point was to enjoy some random concepts that couldn’t be done in the MCU, and for the most part, I did.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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