Marvel Studios’ What If…? is a show that had massive potential and promise. The whole idea of a show that subverts our universes expectations for these characters and changes them, is fascinating. Through the course of the first season of the show, we got alternate takes on: Captain Carter, Killmonger, Doctor Strange, T’Challa, Gamora, Thor, and plenty of others. The whole idea that there was a character watching over us, The Watcher, who couldn’t and wouldn’t mettle with our timelines is also equally as fascinating. The Watcher might be the most powerful character we’ve seen in the MCU, other than, this fully powered Ultron we got in episode eight.
This time around for episode nine, “What If…The Watcher Breaks His Oath?”, we got a multiverse version of the Avengers. Our heroes were: Captain Carter, Doctor Strange, Party Thor, Starlord T’Challa, Black Panther Killmonger, Gamora, and Black Widow. It was a who’s who of What If…?. This time around, they’re all plucked from their universes and taken to fight Ultron. For people who were expecting something completely different than what Marvel has presented thus far, are likely disappointed.
The rest of the sane, level-headed people likely had a ton of fun with this episode. It was an Avengers level plot stuffed into a 30 minute episode. Let’s dive in.
A Dangerous Meeting…
This was truly an awesome turn of events. While we didn’t get The Watcher in action, we saw plenty of that in the last episode. Doctor Strange was showcased as the ultimate Sorcerer Supreme here. He saved the day, and his “sacrifice” adds to his weight in this episode as a character. Captain Carter was given plenty of time to shine, and it’s very clear she’s the breakaway favorite from this series. We got one final performance as T’Challa from Chadwick Boseman, here he was more a support character, but it’s always nice to hear his voice.
The only character that was hyped up for an appearance that didn’t deliver was Gamora. She was here really as a throwaway and didn’t get any buildup or backstory. Why does she have Thanos’ sword? How did she meet Tony? It’s really odd to end a season on a ninth episode. It felt like there was a missing story here.
Overall, this episode delivered on a satisfying conclusion and even gave us some more Black Widow action. Of all the people filling in for voice roles, either Ross Marquand as Ultron or Lake Bell as Black Widow were the best performances. I wouldn’t mind Bell coming back in season two for more Black Widow stories. No one is going to match the voice work that James Spader put in as Ultron, but Marquand gave the character a bit of a new wrinkle with his performance.
Where What If…? goes in season two is a mystery. From the production timeline of this show, it takes quite a long time to make a season with all the intricate animation. That animation was the true highlight of the show. It gave us movie quality action scenes and had it’s own unique style. I keep coming back to the action in this show, but they’ve given us a couple of the MCU’s best scenes. Doctor Strange at the end of his episode was a true highlight, and of course the battle between Ultron and The Watcher. We’re left with a happy ending, and the Multiverse safe.
One has to think that we’re getting some sort of connection here between What If…? and Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. What that connection is, remains to be seen. However, the two films share that multiverse theme and a multiverse of madness seems right up What If…?‘s alley.
This show did wonders crafting emotion and feeling from an animated show. The voice-over performances did a lot of the heavy lifting, even though some performances were way better than others. For season two, let’s hope they can expand out past the Avengers characters that we know and love, and that they can stop killing Tony Stark so damn much.
This was a special experience, but one that some people might enjoy more than others. It wasn’t as visceral or attention grabbing as Loki, WandaVision, or The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, but you’d be making a grave mistake to skip out on What If…?.
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