Was Marvel’s What If Good?!


Courtesy of Marvel

Marvel’s What If has mixed reviews among fans, what side are you on?

Faith DeSio, Photojournalist


Warning: the following article contains minor spoilers to the show What If…?!


On August 11th, 2021, Disney+ launched the first episode of What If…?! (which from here forward will just be called “What If”). What If is an animated Marvel show that contained nine fantastic episodes, all composed of fan service and interesting topics. The series was also based on the Marvel Comic book series What If. It follows Uatu, The Watcher, on his journey to different universes, where he sees many strange things. The show has been well received by fans and enjoyed among many.


The first episode, What If…Captain Carter Were the First Avenger? explores the world from the movie Captain America: The First Avenger, but this time instead of the traditional Steve Rogers receiving the super soldier serum Peggy Carter receives it instead! This new scenario gives us Captain Carter. This was a fun twist on the original story and gave a different perspective than what we all have seen multiple times (through movies, shows, and comics). I think Captain America has one of the best origin stories and I appreciate the authenticity of the story telling. I also personally enjoyed this episode because of how it introduces the different viewpoints that are yet to come in the series. 


The second episode, What If…T’Challa Became a Star-Lord? was one of the most anticipated episodes in the entire series. This episode contained voice acting from the beloved Chadwick Boesman. The voice acting was recorded before Chadwick based away in August of 2020. His death came as such a shock to fans and still impacts people to this day. This was such a bittersweet episode to many people because of how we all miss Chadwick so much. His talent, joy, personality, and authenticity set him apart from the crowd. He is missed deeply and will also be remembered. This was only one reason why I loved this episode so much, another being that the incorporation of Thanos into the storyline was hilarious. I even found myself laughing out loud at some moments!


Episode three, What If…the World Lost Its Mightest Heros? contained a very interesting plot. The storyline takes us through a murder plot where our beloved Avengers start being eliminated one at a time. Chaos ensues, and panic sets in quickly, causing the world to slowly crumble under the pressure of not having its Mightest Heros. I think that this shows how truly important and needed all these characters are. They all have their strengths and are dedicated to their team. Every single Avenger is important no matter how big or small; they all contribute for the greater good of the world. I think that it was interesting to see Black Widow deal with the weight of the world on her shoulders, which helps viewers get a better understanding of how powerful she really is. The villain is an interesting surprise, and reliving Fury’s big week from some of the major Phase 1 movies is a fun part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s timeline. The final fight against Nick Fury was also very entertaining and enjoyable. 


The fourth episode, What If…Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands? was a very hard-hitting one. It depicted what Stephen Strange’s worst nightmare would be. He relives a horrible car crash again and again causing him more pain and suffering each time. Each time he survives but the love of his life, Christine Palmer, does not. Her unavoidable death is a new concept in the MCU, known as an “absolute point.” No matter how many times he tries to change the past the event always remains the same, causing Strange to go insane. Strange then goes to find help but is unsuccessful. His actions eventually lead to him losing himself and becoming lost in his own greef, creating a new and evil Dr. Strange. I found this episode very entraining and emotional. The concept was very fresh and I enjoyed the amount of detail and effort put in. Other fans have also loved this episode and some have ranked it as their number one favorite! One student, Nikole Galea (10), said “I loved the whole show, especially the zombie episode! I enjoyed the different stories throughout the series. I think it was a great idea and was executed very well!” This episode also impacts future episodes such as the finale, and its themes are very important to the entirety of What If


Episode five, What If…Zombies?! was an absolutely amazing one! This episode shows the effects of the deadly virus brought back from the Quantum Realm. The effects include losing consciousness and becoming a zombie. This eventually affects many Avengers such as Iron Man, Captain America, Wong, Hawkeye, and Falcon, leaving Spider-Man, Wasp, Bucky Barnes, T’Challa, Okoye, Bruce Banner, and Kurt (from the Ant-Man series) to fend for themselves and try to save the world. The team runs into Vision on their way to get the cure and are found in even more of a predicament—an infected Wanda Maximoff. This is so bad because she is super powerful and will do anything to get what she wants. The team powers through but has to sacrifice many members, leading to an emotional conclusion. I personally love this episode so much because of it’s fun aspects, exciting characters, enjoyable punchlines and playful storyline. This was definitely my favorite of the nine episodes, and many people feel the same. Even an action figure of Spider-Man with Dr. Strange’s cape from this episode has been made, and it’s selling quickly. I give this episode a 10/10 and would love to see more of this storyline in the future. 


The sixth episode, What If…Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark? shows what would happen if the villain from Black Panther, Killmonger, were to have saved Tony Stark’s life. This episode truly shows the different sides and cleverness within Killmonger. The episode is a great refresher on this interesting character. I also liked seeing Tony Stark’s familiar face and how he interacted differently with Killmonger. 


Episode seven, What If…Thor Were an Only Child? was very action packed and exciting. It exhibits what would happen to Thor if Loki was not his brother. Thor becomes very childish, foolish, unpredictable, and spontaneous. His foolish actions lead him to throw a giant party on Earth. This quickly becomes out of hand, and Carol Danver, Captain Marvel, has to step in and handle it. Thor and Captain Marvel fight hard and use their powers to get what they want. Captain Marvel eventually wins and makes Thor clean up. This episode was very fun to watch, and you can tell that Chris Hemsworth is having an absolute blast with this one. I liked how it explored the goofy side of Thor that we rarely get to see. I think the character cameos and references made the episode better and took it to another level. Overall, it was an entertaining and easy-to-watch episode. Its light hearted nature sets it apart from others, but the ending dramatically shifts the tone and leads us into the final two episodes of the season. 


Episode eight, What If…Ultron Won? showed audiences the tragic story of Ultron winning the battle against the Avengers. This human-like robot became too powerful when merging with his perfected host body that, in the main MCU, was originally commanded by Jarvis and known as Vision. Ultron’s goal is to bring “peace,” even if that means wiping out all life in the universe. This episode was very intriguing and had me on edge and eager to see what was still to come. I enjoyed watching Ultron break the fourth wall and confront The Watcher. This also plays a big part in the finale and impacts the viewer’s perspective of everything we have seen so far.


The ninth and final episode, What If…The Watcher Broke His Owth? showed audiences another amazing team up. Party Thor, Captain Carter, Killmonger, Star Lord T’Challa, Gamora in Thanos’ armor (which was from an episode that ended up being pushed into season two due to COVID-19 production issues), Evil Dr. Strange, and eventually Black Widow all fought against Vision-Ultron. This gave me some nostalgia for Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame because of the huge “big bad” and strong team. It was interesting to see these characters that we got to know from previous episodes collaborate and interact with each other. The comics have traditionally all been their own singular events, but to see these characters assemble from across the multiverse was an exciting turn. This was a very good finale in my opinion. I loved seeing these characters use their own ways to help one another and defeat the enemy. The team up was satisfying and the episode let on a sort of cliffhanger, leaving audiences wondering and quite possibly pondering the question “what if” to themselves. 

Overall, What If was an extremely fun and captivating show. It’s unique nature and distinctiveness sets it apart from other Marvel projects. It was fun to see different storylines from what we know and the outlandish premise made sure it was always unexpected.