It’s a wacky title, but it sums up the series pretty well. Take what the MCU has spent a decade building on top of half a century of comics before that1. The comics have done all manner of continuity resets and what-ifs, so it’s not unusual to see the stories as they could have been–if only one thing changed. But this is a first for the MCU. I fully expect with the coming Phase 4, we’ll see a bit more of this though.
Overall, I think my main problem with this show was that it couldn’t decide if it were a single long storyline or an anthology of unrelated stories. It tried to do a bit of both, but didn’t quite make it.
They’re each still quite enjoyable to watch and at half an hour each, I think worth the time!
Mini-reviews for each episode (potentially spoilers for previous episodes, although that’s minimal this time around):
… Captain Carter Were The First Avenger?
Captain Carter: The was brilliant.
These are going to be fun. I wonder if we’ll see any of the variants on the big screen. Also Red Skull eaten by Cthulhu . Wonderful. I feel like it could have diverged more… (And that Steve Rogers should have died… )
… T’Challa Became a Star Lord?
Saved the universe Good Guy Thanos , lost Wakanda… It’s interesting to see the contrast between Quill and T’Challa’s relationships with the Ravagers. Quite a different world. It’s Mary Sueism turned to 12 and it only really works because of the cast, but you know? I love it. Chadwick Boseman, RIP.
… The World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?
Agent Coulson: It’s an accurate description sir. He’s gorgeous.
Oh Coulson–tonally, that feels really weird though. It’s interesting watching them each die. And you never know who/how/what’s next.
Agent Coulson: The Avengers fell before they had a chance to rise. May they rest in peace.
Nick Fury: They can. But we won’t. The Avengers were always meant to be more than a team. They were an idea, the affirmation of humanity’s need to believe that in our darkest hour, we will find our heroes.
… Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?
Well that’s downright spectacular. Doctor Strange loses Christine Palmer and can’t get her back, even with time travel. So instead, he has to go down a much twistier path. If you ignore the oddness of Strange and Palmer apparently being together the night of the accident, it’s a fantastic What If… Man it’s dark and spectacular right up to the end. Easily the best episode thus far.
The Watcher: [opening narration] We have watched how one moment, one choice, can ripple across space and time, giving birth to new stories, heroes, whole universes. But what if it’s the wrong choice? What if the best of intentions has very strange consequences?
Ow. That was pretty much what I expected. Creepy and terrifying, because zombies—not only that, but zombies that keep their powers—cut with a solid dose of grave humor. It’s not something I think I’d want more of, but I think they did the story well.
… Killmongers Rescued Tony Stark?
Tony Stark gets rescued and never becomes Iron Man yet Killmonger is … still a pretty intense villain. Interesting enough story. Quite a different world in the end I expect.
… Thor Were an Only Child? Party Thor!
DARCY: Hollywood did not prepare me for this.
Nope. It’s a silly, cute one off, great for a What If. Man I love the idea of Thor and Captain Marvel squaring off… Oh that ending.
Side note: Is this really the first time to see Jane Foster and Thor together in how many years?
… Ultron Won?
Well that’s certainly a far more terrifying Ultron… And quite the escalation for the series. I didn’t really expect an overarching plot, but there’s something there.
… The Watcher Broke His Oath?
Guardians of … the Multiverse? That’s certainly a fascinating escalation. Why that Thor? Why Killmonger (answered this one I suppose)? The Infinity Crusher? Hammer(s) Time? All the Zombies? Man. Ridiculous.
I’m a bit sad that we didn’t get the Gamora/Iron Man episode she was from. Also… what kind of plan to defeat Ultron is shooting a NAZI into his brain.
Ranked: Marvel Cinematic Universe
- Avengers: Endgame
- Avengers: Infinity War
- Captain America: Civil War
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier
- Thor: Ragnarok
- Captain America: The First Avenger
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
- Black Panther
- Iron Man
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- The Avengers
- Captain Marvel
- Ant-Man and the Wasp
- Doctor Strange
- The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
- Black Widow
- What If...?
- Iron Man 3
- Iron Man 2
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
- Avengers: Age of Ultron
- The Incredible Hulk
- Thor: The Dark World
Marvel was started in 1939 by Martin Goodman under a number of corporations and imprints but now known as Timely Comics, and by 1951 had generally become known as Atlas Comics. The Marvel era began in 1961, the year that the company launched The Fantastic Four and other superhero titles created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and many others. The Marvel brand, which had been used over the years, was solidified as the company’s primary brand.