Wayne Rock, Comic to Screen Head Writer
Hello again from the Multiverse fellow MCU fans. Let’s not waste any time with preamble and discussing how I fell into yet another multiverse portal (I blame the government), but put on our enormous SPOILER glasses and jump straight into discussing the final four episodes of What If…?
What If…Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?
I have to admit that going into this episode I had no idea what to expect. I can say without hesitation that I did NOT expect it to be about Killmonger outmaneuvering every single character in the episode with just the power of his mind. By focusing on Killmonger, this episode really expands on Eric Stevens’ superior strategist abilities without confining them to a Black Panther narrative where he has to be defeated because he’s the villain and the good guy has to win. It’s still the same Killmonger from Black Panther, but with more resources which gives him a huge advantage over everyone, including Thaddeus Ross, his benefactor Tony Stark and the entire country of Wakanda.
The episode is paced extraordinarily well and for a 30-ish minute runtime, it never felt rushed. The opening sequence, which is a perfect animation of the opening scene of Iron Man 1 simply flows into the alternate tale by having Eric rescue Tony. The episode also shows what a powerful ally Tony would be if he ends up owing you his life, basically handing Killmonger all the keys needed for his plans on a silver platter. Once again it is shown that Killmonger uses people as his own personal chess pieces, valuing no one life over his ultimate goal of having the power to change what he feels is an unfairly balanced world. This is an ideology that is revisited when we get to the finale, and I loved that they set it up here.
As usual the episode is animated expertly and gives us some eye candy with more intimate fight scenes and an all-out, Infinity War-style battle. Returning cast members also shine with Michael B Jordan revisiting the role he made so popular in Black Panther and Chadwick Boseman giving us some more posthumous vocal heat. I don’t know if it’s just me, but Mick Wingert always sounds like he’s doing a bad imitation of Robert Downey Jr and after three episodes of this replacement I can’t get over it.
The only negative I can give this episode is the largely open-ended conclusion, that just kind of leaves the audience wondering “Huh? Well, where does it go from here?” Other than that, this was a great episode, and it leaves you wanting more from this portrayal of Killmonger.
Score: 7 out of 10
What If…Thor Were an Only Child?
This is probably going to be my most contentious take yet on this series, but I kind of loved this episode. I’ve seen a lot of people describe it as “filler” and I’m genuinely confused by this take since, in my opinion, there’s nothing to fill. While there has always been a sense that the story has been quietly building towards a more cohesive finale the episodes largely felt self-contained with the Watcher being the audience proxy. As the silent observer unable to intervene these stories exist as his entertainment while slowly growing to care for these characters he’s unable to interact with. So, while I do enjoy the darker takes on the MCU, this light, fun, teen drama-esque episode was very refreshing.
First of all, Chris Hemsworth absolutely kills it as this version of a spoilt, party-hard Thor that was never humbled, simply because he never had an antagonistic relationship with a Loki that was returned to Jotunheim. Hemsworth has amazing comedic timing, and he is given free reign to just run wild and it absolutely works. The fact that this episode had some of the craziest events in a series where literally anything can happen shows how dangerous Vegas can be. From Darcy and Howard the Duck signing nuptials to Jane and Thor getting matching tattoos to Thor throwing a tantrum and destroying historical landmarks to just the insane display of world-breaking power as he and Captain Marvel throw down, this episode just delivers on every crazy front. By far the most hilarious moment for me was Nick Fury getting taken out by a cannonball hungry Korg. But this moment also lets us see what a power-wielding Maria Hill would be like and it seems she’s a lot more ruthless than Fury himself.
The dynamic between Jane and Thor is also much better than it ever has been in the film, with Natalie Portman actually returning to the role. Seeing Jane’s consummate professional image shatter in the face of Thor’s godly hotness is always fun to watch and their hookup leading to Thor catching real feelings (after running out on her) adds to the whole John Hughes-esque, high school drama, teen romance vibe the episode has. Then the whole wrap up with the solution to the problem being to call Thor’s mommy to yell at him was just the cherry on top of the entire experience. After all the heavy episodes, this really felt like the perfect palate cleanser before heading into the big finale and I loved every second of it.
Score: 8.5 out of 10
What If…Ultron Won?
Who could have imagined that one simple deviation from the sacred timeline could have led to the destruction of the entire multiverse? This episode redeems Ultron as a villain by realising and then building on his potential and having him reach ultra-critical mass. In this universe, Ultron succeeds in getting Vision’s body which allows him to easily wipe out the Avengers and subjugate the world, leaving Natasha and Clint as its only line of defense. I must say that having the only two “regular” human heroes take this role was very fitting for the story of humanity versus artificial intelligence.
After defeating Thanos in one of the most shocking What If…? moments so far, Ultron easily decimates the entire Universe, proving how unstoppable he is. As the Watcher narrates (who is he narrating for by the way? Himself? That seems a bit odd but okay) Ultron becomes aware of his existence and ultimately the existence of the multiverse. Moving his target to the multiverse rather than just the confines of his own reality, Ultron self-evolves to a cosmic being. While the Watcher puts up a valiant fight, Ultron is simply too powerful, and the episode ends with Natasha unable to execute their Hail Mary plan and the Watcher needing to go to the self-exiled Dr Strange Supreme for help.
This episode is functionally the Infinity War of the What If…? series with similar beats throughout. The villain being enormously powerful and wiping out any hope of survival, letting the remaining heroes pursue a last-ditch attempt to stop said villain only for it to fail at the end, and introducing a powered-up version of a character that makes it seem like good will prevail, only for the villain to win. There’s nothing particularly bad to say about the episode, but while a lot of things happen and its cool to see a powered-up Ultron destroying everything, there’s not much great to say either. In fact, the episode largely felt like a set-up for the finale.
Now don’t get me wrong, it was awesome, but unlike the other episodes where we got to spend time in that particular universe, it’s quickly established that the universe is basically done for. The times we do revisit Clint and Nat’s attempts to destroy Ultron by accessing Arnim Zola’s programme and essentially using him as a virus to infect Ultron are the best parts of the episode from a narrative perspective. The moment that is basically a reversal of Nat’s sacrifice in Endgame is filled with emotion and a super cool visual that is on par with something like Tony and Cap’s clash in Civil War or the Valkyrie flashback in Ragnarok. That’s why I wished we spent more time on this version of Earth before jumping over to the epic battle between super Saiyan Watcher and Ultra Ultron.
I’m not going to dock too many points over what is a largely enjoyable episode with great action, great voice work (particularly from Jeffery Wright and Ross Marquand who is doing killer work as Ultron) and a very satisfying cliffhanger ending.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
What If…The Watcher Broke His Oath?
And here we are folks, the Multiverse’s Endgame. The episode that pays off all the little teasers and buildup throughout the entirety of Season 1 and answers the question, What If…The Watcher Broke His Oath? Well basically, everything works out fine, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
In desperation, the Watcher breaks his oath never to intervene and starts recruiting all those characters we’ve been introduced to over the course of Season 1. The one exception being a Thanos’ war armour-sporting Gamora who is just thrown into the mix despite being integral to the plan to defeat Ultron, given that she has a device that can destroy infinity stones. Apparently Season 1 was planned to have 10 episodes, but due to Covid, an episode starring this Gamora and Tony Stark was moved to Season 2. That’s neither here nor there though as Gamora herself doesn’t really add much to the team dynamic.
Speaking of the team, we are introduced to the Guardians of the Multiverse proper here, with a team consisting of Captain Carter, Doctor Strange Supreme, Star T’challa, Party Thor, Thanos-Killer Gamora, Panther Killmonger and the late addition of Solo Black Widow. Important to note that I made up some of these monikers to differentiate between the variants. They come up with a plan and execute it, only for it to fail, necessitating Widow and Carter to come up with a backup plan on the fly. They outmanoeuvre Ultron and infect him with the Zola virus, defeating him.
We then get a last minute “twist” with Killmonger doing the obvious by trying to take the stones for himself, promising the other Guardians their dreams if they join him. As an awakened Arnim Zola now inhabiting Ultra Ultron’s body tries to retrieve the stones, Strange Supreme realises that the Watcher never intended for them to defeat Ultron, but simply separate the stones. He then traps them in a pocket dimension and voluntarily returns to his pocket dimension where he can watch them for seemingly all eternity. Then everyone gets their happy ending, and we end on the first and only post-credit scene cliffhanger.
I enjoyed this episode quite a lot. I thought the team dynamics of the Guardians of the Multiverse worked really well. Our previous introductions to the characters in their own episodes helped the audience connect with them, so their interactions with each other worked really well. What was particularly interesting to me is how vastly different Party Thor was from Endgame Thor, yet they basically served the same purpose initially. All the action scenes were amazing, and it was interesting seeing all these powerful characters hold their own against Ultra Ultron, and then him turn the tables. I loved the inclusion of the zombies in the episode and that Wanda reveal was amazing. I like how everything wrapped up and I loved that it was a Captain Carter x Black Widow team up that was Ultron’s undoing.
However…I have a few questions. If the Watcher knew the eventual outcome, then why was Gamora’s device even necessary? Couldn’t they have orchestrated these events without her? It makes her inclusion even more unnecessary because we never got to see her before. Also, since they transported the zombies to this uninhabited planet, does that mean that the zombie universe is safe, or did the Watcher just ignore the Gauntlet-wielding zombie Thanos? Why did they tease Wanda recognising Vision’s body just for them to do nothing with it? Why did the Watcher never join the fight? You already broke your oath and have a super powerful armoured form! Why not use it to at least help? I know that he knew the outcome already, but still. He could’ve helped.
These questions are ultimately what bogs down the episode a bit, but never ruins it. We do get some closure for all these characters, and they leave the door open for a potential return of Killmonger or Zola-Tron or both. Also, Strange Supreme isn’t all that trustworthy to begin with so who’s to say he doesn’t have some machinations of his own. All in all, the season finale was a satisfying conclusion to what was an interesting and somewhat uneven journey.
Score: 8 out of 10
So what was your favourite episode of What If…? And you can check more MCU content below:
Wayne loves to complain, and that was an unintentional rhyme. When I’m not watching movies, TV, anime or trophy hunting on PS4, you can usually find me deep in my thoughts preparing my next scathing review of a bad movie. I think Zack Snyder’s take on superheroes is terrible and that The Quick and the Dead is actually a decent movie. I re-watch Death Note every year. Unlike the other fine writers on this site, I’m not a critic, but I can definitely Rock a review…(Read More)