I finished watching Marvel’s animated series “What If…?”, and I must say: IT WAS AWESOME! From the first episode, I felt like I had been flung back into my childhood. Not that I was a heavy comic reader (it was hard getting my hands on comics–long story), but I loved watching animated stuff when I could get it.
For those unfamiliar with the series, let me give you a quick catch-up. It’s based on the Marvel comics. Every episode is a different look at a alternate reality. All of these realities exist by themselves in the Multiverse (watch Loki for more insight into this. It’s also well-worth you watch), and are presented and analyzed by the enigmatic narrator known only as The Watcher.
Note that some SPOILERS may follow! So if you haven’t seen Loki or all of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) movies, you have been warned.
Here is my ranking, worst to best, of all the episodes, followed by a short summary of each and what I found great/not-so-great.
#9 – Episode 6: What If…Killmonger Rescued Tony?
What worked: The acting and animation, as in every episode, are wonderful. I’m particularly enraptured with Jeffrey Wright’s (the actor voicing The Watcher) inflections. Especially the way he voices the intro in each episode. He has a unique, mysterious and somewhat tortured way of saying “What if…?”
What didn’t work (for me): It might’ve been because I haven’t seen all of Black Panther (I know, I know; I need to get on that), but I didn’t find this one that interesting. Killmonger is an excellent villain, but some things were just too…predictable. Except when SPOILER died. Again. SPOILER died in another episode as well. I don’t know why I was a bit surprised.
#8 – Episode 5: What If…Zombies?!
What worked: The acting and animation was spot-on. And to throw Kurt into a zombie apocalypse situation? (Baba Yaga!) Wow, that was HILARIOUS.
What didn’t work (for me): I’m not a huge zombie fan, so that’s my bias coming in. Also, SPOILER killing himself at the end felt a little…not Deus Ex Machina but something similar. Like, DUDE, own your mistake and help these poor fools. No Romeo and Juliet crap. But, as a writer, I realize that all decisions like this are valid. It’s the creator’s choice. I’m just responding to this with my personal likes and dislikes. It’s an amazing episode.
#7 – Episode 3: What If…The World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?
What worked: The identity of the secret antagonist had my eyes bugging out. Like, WOW. I knew it was coming, due to the hint Black Widow receives before she’s SPOILER! It was also cleverly written and well acted, and the animation–*chef’s kiss*
What DIDN’T work (for me): Not having all the original actors do the voices. It’s a multiverse, so it sort of works, but I would have LOVED to hear Scarlett Johansson voicing Widow. Also, the pacing felt a bit…off. I can’t find another way to say it. And I didn’t like the open-endedness of the ending.
#6 – Episode 2: What If….T’Challa Became a Star-Lord?
What worked: Almost everything. Truly. Had I actually watched all of Black Panther, I know I would have swooned over this episode. So there’s no real need for me to say what didn’t work. Truly, in this episode, it was all me. Thanos as an ally and almost good guy? Sign me UP!
#5 – Episode 4: What If…Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?
What worked: A LOT. The ending was so dark, I just ate it up. And the concept of two SPOILERS in the same shared universe? Mind = BLOWN.
What didn’t work (for me): This is going to get me some hate. I didn’t particularly care for Benedict Cumberbatch’s acting in some of this. I’ve only been in community theater, non-equity, and I wasn’t any good. With that being said, and for what it’s worth, I couldn’t always buy the actor’s interpretation of Strange’s grief. It rang a bit hollow to me. But that’s just my take. I know others loved it and probably have better taste/understanding than I do of voice acting 😉
#4 – Episode 9: What If…The Watcher Broke His Oath?
What worked: Oh, this was popcorn cinema…from the convenient seat of home 😉 Almost everything worked so well. The acting, the animation, the storyline. It was hard to place this one, but ultimately it fell just shy of episode #1, which immediately hooked me.
What didn’t work (for me): It’s kind of hard to put my finger on it. Maybe the pacing?
#3 – Episode 1: What If…Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?
What worked: Oh, it all worked. The feminist in me was nomming popcorn and squeeing. The little kid in me was fist-pumping. It was just an all-around fun episode with excellent writing and acting.
#2 – Episode 8: What If…Ultron Won?
What worked: The usual: acting, writing, storyline. This will tie into the live action films and shows, for sure. Everything is going to spill together, I can just feel it–and I am PUMPED! The Watcher is finally getting involved with the multiverse. I can only hope that Jeffrey Wright will make an appearance in Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness…and perhaps in the next season of Loki.
#1 – Episode 7: What If…Thor Were an Only Child?
What worked; It all worked. I just…I can’t even express how much I enjoyed this episode. It was funny, quirky, well-written, well-acted, stunningly animated. Just–wow. If you’re going to only watch one episode and you love Thor and the idea of him as a frat boy, this is the one to sit down and start with. It might just hook you and get you to watch the others.
What are your thoughts? How would YOU rank the episodes?
Keep your nose in a book,