WARNING: Major What If…? spoilers ahead
At first glance, I thought that Marvel’s newest series, What If…?, would end up being somewhat of a playful series. Marvel had the opportunity to explore small crevices in their cinematic universe without jeopardizing the canon timeline. Instead, they gave us something much more. I think the main purpose of releasing this show wasn’t to explore possible sidetracks in the MCU, but rather to get audiences comfortable with the concept of a multiverse.
The whole series is based upon the idea that a multiverse exists, with The Watcher set as our guide. The first seven episodes introduce us to different variations of superheroes we all love; a direct connection to the Loki series, which also plays around with the idea of the multiverse. It seems as if Marvel is heavily leaning towards this idea, and I’m all for it. Before we jump into the specifics, I suggest you watch Venom: Let There Be Carnage. I won’t say much more, but if you stay for the whole movie you’ll understand why I’m bringing it up. What happens just solidifies my previous point.
Anyways, I was surprised by how fun each episode of What If…? was. The ones that particularly stand out to me are the Doctor Strange and the zombies episode. The former had one of the most touching Marvel moments I’ve ever seen as Strange cried out, “No, no, no… I’m sorry… I’m so, so sorry…” as the camera zoomed out turning to black. Again, I will mention my bias, as Strange is one of my favorite characters in the MCU, but the heartfelt development in that episode has to be some of the best writing I’ve ever seen. The zombie episode I enjoyed, namely because it’s so outlandish and goes against the pace of every other piece of Marvel cinema. Plus, zombies. What can I say? It’s an easy but entertaining card to play.
I was also genuinely surprised with the amount of, mind-blowing moments the series had. The two that stuck out the most to me were when Ultron becomes aware of The Watcher and when Galactus makes a brief debut. The first moment is self-explanatory while the second brings me both excitement and fear. We already know Kang the Conqueror is coming to the MCU (read why here), but Galactus? He’s a whole other monster. Simply put, his nickname is the “Eater of Worlds” and I don’t think a simple Hulk smash could put him to sleep. Time will tell if this cameo is a hint of a future appearance of Galactus in the MCU or if it was just put there as a reference to older Marvel content.
There’s one glaring issue for me from this series. We don’t see any of the Phase Four heroes or events. Now, that’s not necessarily fair as most of the movies and shows aren’t even released yet, but that doesn’t matter. By having the world end in a few cases in this series without having any Phase Four people or events involved, does that mean Phase Four is obsolete? Of course, things get hairy when you take into consideration the time everything takes place in, but I think you get my sentiment. Maybe I’m just overthinking. The concept of the multiverse and the importance of timing is overwhelming. Maybe I should go to an Asgardian pub.
Overall, I really enjoyed What If…? through all of its winds and bends. It was fun to see small moments and characters from the MCU we forgot about and how small things could have subjectively changed what happened. I have a feeling that we’ll be going back to this series as a callback for future Marvel endeavours.