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 1×07 “What If…Thor Were an Only Child?” focuses on Thor and how his being an only sibling stopped him from becoming the hero we know and love.
A show with so many characters and perspectives felt like it required more than one voice. So, I’m teaming up with my friends Lizzie and Lynnie to review What If…? Join us each week as we rejoice, commiserate, and hopefully enjoy the show. Let’s do this!
Lyra: Right off the bat, we need to talk about how surprising it was to note the influence Loki had on Thor. Personally, I don’t think the MCU has spent enough time on it and focuses more on Loki’s journey and that of his road to self-acceptance. So, it was interesting to see how long it would take Thor to become a hero without having grown up with his trickster brother by his side. What did you guys think about this concept?
Lizzie: I’m not exactly surprised, because I think the MCU has never hidden the fact that Thor and Loki have had a great influence on each other, but it is true they typically focus more on the Loki aspect of it. I do wish in general that the MCU had spent more time on their brotherhood, because yes, they’ve made it integral to so much, but never actually dedicated as much time to it if that makes any sense? And it’s 100% the Thor relationship I’m most invested in, and Loki’s too, for that matter, even after the series. And I guess they tried to show us the importance of it on this, but they didn’t actually, again, give us any of them …together. So, yeah, that’s my one gripe, if anything. I want more of them actually together.
Lynnie: It was honestly nice to see Thor get to be mischievous and a bit of a dumbass without it killing anyone or starting wars. It was also nice to see this need to grow up without the weight of Loki trying to usurp the throne and Odin doing his best to be a bad dad. I would have enjoyed the first movie more, I think if I had gotten this sort of dumbassery because it was clear that Thor needed to grow up and learn some lessons about responsibility but it wasn’t a bunch of formality and betrayal that bogged down the first movie in my opinion. I get the feeling he’ll learn his lesson with Vision-Thanos, which I quite like. Thor learning to be a king from outside threats rather than Loki’s betrayal would mean that Thor and Loki could potentially grow closer without the angst as they face the threat of Vision together. Overall, I really, really enjoyed this version of Thor and this path to learning to be an adult. It was fun.
Lyra: I’m gonna say it…JANE AND THOR HAD CHEMISTRY! And yes, it’s more than the movies ever gave us. Maybe it was the shameless flirting or how proactive and integral Jane was, but I felt something between them for the first time that had actual substance. Why did this one work in comparison to other times we’ve seen their relationship?
Lizzie: I’m not sure, but it did. Maybe they just figured out what was missing from the relationship? I’ve seen a lot of people blame Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman, but I don’t believe it was them as much as the writing. The first two movies made Thor much too serious, and it just wasn’t fun to see, so maybe that affected the romance? Hopefully, post-Ragnarok Thor, who is infinitely more interesting, can also have a more interesting relationship with Jane, who we know is coming back for Thor: Love and Thunder. If What If is to be believed, it is possible.
Lynnie: I think it was a matter of the movies making them too formal and angsty, rather than focusing on any sort of fun they might have had between them. Like, why do I want to invest in two characters who don’t seem like they have any fun together? Where are the scenes of them just enjoying each other and being happy and in love? Why didn’t I get a scene where they woke up hungover in a hotel room in Vegas? The movies never really gave me that sense that they enjoyed each other’s personalities, and this episode managed it in about three minutes. All it took was for dorky Jane to invest in frat boy Thor and for them to complement each other’s dumbassery for me to be sold. As Lizzie said, I hope they bring this dynamic to the forefront in Thor: Love and Thunder because it’s seriously what they’ve been lacking.
Lyra: Captain Marvel punched Thor into another country and I can’t stop thinking about it. I also can’t stop thinking about Darcy totally having the hots for Captain Marvel or how Frigga knew who this intergalactic hero was. What does that say about Captain Marvel and do you think Frigga and her sisters know all the hot gossip about the universe and the badass women who run things?
Lizzie: Look, the best part of this episode was that they called Thor’s mom and he was more scared of her than anything else in the universe, and we’re talking about one of Marvel’s strongest heroes, okay? Does that make Frigga the most powerful of them all? Well, other than Captain Marvel, who was actually kind of …taking it easy on Thor, in a way? She didn’t want to cause mass destruction, and I think, deep down, Carol could see that Thor might not be the brightest, but he wasn’t actually evil. So I do think this probably, in a roundabout way, proves she’s stronger? Not that you asked that, but that was my conclusion.
Lynnie: For me, the fighting was eh. I like Captain Marvel and I LOVED her with Darcy, but the Captain and Thor punching each other into different countries fell a little flat for me. Felt more like they were trying to give fans a cool moment rather than giving me something to vibe with. It was cool to see her in the episode and see her reactions to things, but I definitely enjoyed Thor’s reaction to his mom way more than I did their fight. Jane telling his mom felt like a more honest solution to his shitty behavior than smashing everything and seeing whose hammer was the biggest. His terror of Frigga and his willingness to bring out his kingly tendencies just to bully the partygoers to help him and behave while she was there was genuinely fun and funny. I’d also love to be in on Frigga’s gossip sessions and the way they all most definitely talk about how to keep the men in the universe from ruining everything.
Lyra: On a final note, Bifrost Prince Loki was hot. I don’t make the rules. I just follow them. And it was cool to see that in some way or another, Loki and Thor will always be part of each other’s lives; even if they’re brothers from another mother. What did you think of their relationship and how they are still tied together in some way or another?
Lizzie: It was nice to see Loki happy, but on the other hand, they just made him into the comic relief? I did like that, no matter what, Thor and Loki are part of each other’s lives, but this kinda made it seem like Odin’s bad parenting was the only thing that made Loki into the God of Mischief, and I just don’t believe that’s the case. So I was missing a bit of the, you know, Loki we know and love the hate sometimes — even if that might have caused some issues for Thor.
Lynnie: I agree with Lizzie to a point, but I also did like that without Odin’s influence and without his identity issues, Loki was happier, healthier, and had a better relationship with Thor. They found their way to each other and shared in a brotherhood still, and I liked that a good deal. I also like that Loki was still Loki and that Thor was still Thor, just more them and more willing to party without there being heaps of angst and brooding involved in their interactions. Generally, I enjoyed what this imagining did for their personalities together and apart.
Marvel’s What If…? is available to stream Wednesdays on Disney+.