Disney+’s What If…? is both Marvel’s first attempt at playing in the multiverse sandbox, and the first animated show set fully in the MCU. But What If…? doesn’t seem interested in being a placeholder for the live-action shows, it’s got stories to tell, and some of them might end up being as interesting as the ones we originally saw. Episode 1×03 focuses on the consequences of the Avengers getting killed before they can become the Avengers, or maybe on what happens to Loki if you remove Thor’s influence from his life? Either way, it was a wild episode.
A show with so many characters and perspectives felt like it required more than one voice. So, I’m teaming up with my friends Lyra and Lynnie to review What If…? Join us each week as we rejoice, commiserate, and hopefully enjoy the show. Let’s do this!
Lizzie: So much happened in this hour. All the Avengers save Cap died! But I guess we’re supposed to believe there’s hope, because Carol showed up at the end, and Fury found Steve? I was a bit more concerned with all the killing, though. I mean, I know this is about alternate scenarios and it doesn’t really matter, but I feel like there should be a point to these episodes, a thought exercise to explore, and I’m not sure what the point of this episode was. What if there was chaos?
Lyra: Honestly, I’m on the same boat. What was the point of this episode? Because whatever it was got lost in the sauce. And all that we were left with was a fanfiction that banked on chaos as a means of being edgy and different while simultaneously ignoring both. And in comparison to the first two episodes of What If…? this one was weak and forgettable.
Lynnie: I agree. The power of the first two episodes was in that it explored how the characters would change the arc of other stories that were never theirs, and how their choices would make things brighter and better for the universes they were in. This felt like they were too busy trying to shock us with The Avengers Dead! that they didn’t end up giving us any sort of valuable, imaginative framework to see our favorite characters in unfamiliar ways. It felt like more of the same spy thriller we’ve gotten before. Overall, it definitely felt weaker than the other two episodes in comparison.
Lizzie: I did appreciate Natasha in this, maybe because I, in general, appreciate her more after the Black Widow movie, and it was fun to revisit some of the earlier moments in the MCU. The running commentary about Thor being gorgeous was fun, too. But overall, this episode won’t stand out for me. Particularly as there was really no resolution. Which, I don’t even think these episodes need …it’s just that I don’t actually care enough about what happened to continue the fanfic in my head, so …there’s that.
Lyra: Caring is key to why I felt like this episode was a dud. I didn’t care for any of the Avengers. And this is coming from someone that was obsessed with this universe for years on end. I will admit that my love has dwindled since Endgame but I was hoping to be reminded of why I loved this verse in the first place via this episode. That unfortunately didn’t happen. What could’ve saved it? If the episode was solely focused on Black Widow and how she survived Thanos and all his garbage. Now that is something I’d watch and cheer on.
Lynnie: There were definitely a few funny moments that I appreciated with Fury, Natasha, Loki (the phone call scene was hilarious!) and the OG Avengers, but I absolutely did not care about the storyline or whatever they were trying to accomplish here. For me, it felt like the real story was in the closing scene, which was a bummer investment wise. I would have loved to see a What If…? focused on the captains building the Avengers together without all the bickering, grandstanding, and Whedon of it all. The closing scene shouldn’t have been the main takeaway, I feel, so it was a let down in many ways.
Lizzie: One fun thing about this episode, though, was the fact that Loki without Thor is, somehow …even worse Loki? And Hank, without Hope …is somehow a villain? It’s a fun way of examining the decisions we make and how the pain and anger we feel can sometimes influence our decisions. This feels particularly important after what happened in WandaVision. For heroes, in this universe, decisions made in moments of grief can very much alter the universe. For us mere mortals, well …they can still hurt others. Something to keep in mind.
Lyra: Lizzie, why do you have to drop such beautiful answers?! How am I supposed to respond? I need a moment. *deep breath* Grief is such a transformative thing. And I’m so glad that Marvel isn’t running from this feeling, how it changes us, and that people all over feel it. That makes for a unifying concept that we’ve all experienced at one level or another. And it’s legit the best thing about this episode.
Lynnie: I didn’t even consider the losing people of it all because I was too busy appreciating Coulson smelling a DEAD THOR’S HAIR. The man was swooning over the golden, glorious locks of a dead guy. But I suppose grief does make us lash out and hurt the world around us, whether it’s big or small, as Lizzie said. All that difficult stuff.
Again, HE SMELLED DEAD THOR’S HAIR. I can’t focus on the minor storytelling arcs.
Lizzie: What would have been your perfect What If…? for these characters? I think I would have loved to see an episode exploring what would happen to the world if Loki hadn’t made the mistakes he made. We’ve seen multiple versions of this tortured, somewhat evil but mostly chaotic Loki – which seems to be the same one in this episode. Maybe they were trying to show us fully evil Loki, but that didn’t truly translate. And what would have been truly groundbreaking would have been …good Loki! Now, that would have been something.
Lyra: A perfect What If…? Episode would be Hawkeye sacrificing himself for Black Widow and us seeing how the world changes because of it. Because, whether you’re a ScarJo fan or not, her character deserved better than the ending she got. I said what I said.
Lynnie: This episode was so chaotic for me that I have no idea what the perfect thing would be for Natasha or Fury. Like, I said, I would have preferred that if they were going to kill everyone to give us a world without the Avengers, they should have done it in the first scene and then the rest of the episode was Captain Marvel and Captain America building the Avengers together, perhaps in a way that felt a little more wary of SHIELD, the government, grandstanding, and all the in-fighting that led to so many problems. They could have also thrown in some found family feels, a bit of Loki lashing out because of his grief, and ultimately helping Loki save himself.
I know they probably didn’t want more Captain America since we got Peggy’s episode, but why dangle the most interesting storyline at the end of the episode and not follow through on it? It’s rude!
Marvel’sWhat If…? is available to stream Wednesdays on Disney+.