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Cake's Takes on Marvel's What If...? (2021), (TV Series Review)

Caila has been a fan of Marvel and the MCU ever since its cinematic conception, having followed every movie and show released so far!

Endless Possibilities

The promotional poster for Marvel's What If...? on Disney Plus.

The promotional poster for Marvel's What If...? on Disney Plus.

What If...?

The concept of Marvel's What If...? came about in 1977 and was taken lightly for the most part, as it was never canon to the stories that the characters come from. Just hypothetical situations that eventually became popular in the comics. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, however, asked another hypothetical question though. What if they were canon to the MCU, though? The stories narrated by The Watcher in different parallel universes in the Multiverse are all similar to the ones we know and love of our heroes, but they have equal amounts of charm and thought behind them all. How different are these universes from our own and what becomes of each of them? Also, how is this canon?!

Captain Britain

Peggy Carter taking on the mantle of Captain America.

Peggy Carter taking on the mantle of Captain America.

What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?

This universe tells the tale of Steve Rogers being chosen, yet again, for the Super Soldier Serum, but the events change and Peggy ends up being the one injected with the serum and becoming Captain America/(Captain Britain, really). She is righteous, just, and good as Captain, and she even has Steve by her side for a while. The ending of the episode sees her take Rogers' place in the future as he did in the First Avenger film, meeting Nick Fury and Clint Barton (Hawkeye) there. So it's really retelling the Captain America: The First Avenger movie over again and placing Peggy in the similar situations as Steve before her. This did not entertain me much, as their characters are so similar that the story really felt exactly the same. However, it did set the tone for what was to come within the next few episodes where not everything gets a happy ending. I did not love this episode as Peggy's character just did not move me like it should have.

Star-Lord

The promotional poster for Episode 2 of Marvel's What If...?

The promotional poster for Episode 2 of Marvel's What If...?

What If... T'Challa Became Star-Lord?

My first thoughts when this episode began was that the beginning of the episodes are so beautiful! The imagery is amazing as we see the cartoon versions of all of these characters and that they're all very much the same, but different at the same time now that we're in different worlds. Every time I watch the intro I feel a bit mystified by The Watcher's voice and the omnipresence of the job he has in every universe: to watch. I liked the opening of this episode. I thought it was pretty funny, until they used a few too old jokes that don't work as well as others. What I like the most is that people actually respect this version of Star-Lord! They fan out over him actually, which in and of itself is hilarious. I thought the way they got T'Challa out of Wakanda to become a Ravager was pretty cool because it made no one the bad guy or anything, just a screw up. Seeing a different version of one of the characters in this episode is actually SHOCKING! Shocking in a good way. This episode brings back smaller characters from the MCU or the comics and gives them bigger roles, which was fun to see! This episode wasn't the best but I did like it more than the previous one.

Help From Unlikely Places

Black Widow and Shield.

Black Widow and Shield.

What If... The World Lost Its Mightiest?

I had heard a few things about the first three episodes before they actually came out and when I heard that this one was a murder mystery episode, I was all in regardless of who the story focused on. I thought that was a cool idea because we'd never seen anything like this on the screen. I was so enveloped in the episode, actually, that I did not start taking notes on it until about halfway in. That did not help because the way they shape this episode, halfway in, you're still guessing who could be killing off all of the original members of the MCU's Avengers? It's a very good blend of the MCU and the comics, this episode is. The reveal comes out of nowhere, but it's really good though and makes a load of sense why the person who's behind it all wants revenge. How the episode ended was a bit bleak and you really felt the impact of what just happened in the episode. Watching The Watcher watch the stories with us is eerie! His animations and lines are so good and ominous! This episode, however, had nothing on the next.

Doctor Strange Supreme

The promotional poster for Episode 4 of Marvel's What If...? Doctor Strange Supreme.

The promotional poster for Episode 4 of Marvel's What If...? Doctor Strange Supreme.

What If... Dr. Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?

I have always liked Dr. Strange, so I was excited for this episode, especially since this is considered canon to the Marvel Cinematic Universe through the Multiverse. The title of the episode told us clearly what would happen, so we know that this episode will take a similar route to the Doctor Strange film. So with that, it's nice to see them use backgrounds we already know for these stories to progress without having to spell everything out for the viewer. This episode has a very strong message I found, unlike the others before it; Corruption of power, obsession, selfishness is bad! I think at some point Stephen Strange got so lost in gaining new powers in such a short time that he lost his purpose for even doing so in the first place. Everything was of his own doing. His own selfishness, lack of self control, and need to be in control of everything, narcissisms remained true from the movie, but got worse. He is limitless in power but still can't control everything. The episode was extremely bleak and really had a good message to me, even outside of magic and the MCU, and made me want to see the upcoming Doctor Strange 2: Multiverse of Madness film and see what he will encounter in that film. This by far, has been the best episode yet and my favorite so far.

ZOMBIES!!!

Zombie Captain America

Zombie Captain America

What If... Zombies?

The next episode continues the trend of the episodes being dark and based in such a different world from our own. It takes one of Marvel comics' most famous storylines and puts it on screen. Zombies in the MCU?! Cool! Hank Pym and Janet cause a zombie apocalypse via the Quantum Realm and the fun begins! Throughout the episode we see constant death and changes. People come and go so fast and the pacing of the story is really quick, but exciting. I think that it was a nice thrilling change of pace for the past few stories we had gotten. Once the Avengers of this universe catch the virus and become zombies themselves, while trying to save others, the world is almost out of hope. They are left with LITERALLY 2.5 men to help save the planet from Zombies. Another bleak ending but at least this one has a little bit of hope... until the very very end. Then we're Infinity doomed. Back to bleak.

Saving Tony Stark

A conversation between Tony Stark and Eric Killmonger.

A conversation between Tony Stark and Eric Killmonger.

What If... Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?

This episode did not intrigue me much honestly. For one, Tony has an uncanny ability to make a villain out of whoever he meet in these universes and in the MCU. He also has a knack for something else in these stories that I won't reveal but you'll notice it almost immediately. The beginning of this episode is similar to the beginning of the first Iron-Man movie. It is interesting to see somebody else in this role, playing Tony Stark's voice; I think he does a good job though, nonetheless, just obviously not Robert Downey Jr., who made the Tony Stark role how important it was to the MCU. This episode didn't captivate me until the end because I wanted to see how it ended and again, it's pretty bleak.

Killer Parties

Dumb Party Thor and Jane Foster having a good time at Thor's party.

Dumb Party Thor and Jane Foster having a good time at Thor's party.

What If... Thor Were an Only Child?

I love that this is episode is the same Thor we have now come to know and love in a way. He's just from another universe, but he's still stupid Thor. This story is of what Thor's life would be like had his father, Odin, gave Loki back to the Ice Giants he had come from instead of him being a son/ward of the Odinson's his whole life. Without Loki there to better Thor and guide him into becoming a hero, Thor is simply a slacker with the title of a future King of Asgard. He just wants to throw parties and hang out with his friends on each planet. However, his parties he's throwing are so out of control they end up causing harm to the planet itself. EPIC RAGERS! Don't miss your invitation because literally anyone in the MCU or the comics is invited. It was fun to watch the people just kicking it and having a good time and to see how other characters turn out like Loki. People you don't often see on camera much and others you see all the time. This episode was more made for TV lessons than anything. Good message for kids to watch about responsibility. This was actually a nice breather from all the tragedy we've had to endure over the last few episodes.

The Watcher vs Ultron

The Watcher facing the ultimate challenge of Ultron.

The Watcher facing the ultimate challenge of Ultron.

What If... Ultron Won?

This is another episode that the title spoils the entire episode for you, really, but the story is over what if Ultron had won in Age of Ultron and succeeded at creating a body for himself and taking over Earth and destroying everything on it and around it. When Ultron completes his goal it's highlighted something I've always wondered about this plan that villains have. Marvel answers it amazingly with what the humanoid does. Ultron had another form of a Doctor Strange moment from episode 4 where it seems like he didn't mean for any of this to lead to the consequences he got, but he actually gets an epiphany of a horrible kind and decides to keep going on his rampage instead. He also had another similar moment of clairvoyance as Dr. Strange where he notices The Watcher watching him. This made me wonder who is stronger now between the pair of them. By the end of episode you can easily see that it's going into the next episode and not being a cliffhanger. I can't help but get excited at the thought of Ultron and The Watcher boxing again. I knew the Watcher was powerful, but the ending of the episode is still sad! This took the place of the Doctor Strange as my favorite episode for the action and story alone, while I still find episode 4 to be more impactful in its message.

Guardians of the Multiverse

The Guardians of the Multiverse assembled by The Watcher.

The Guardians of the Multiverse assembled by The Watcher.

What If... The Watcher Broke His Oath?

The final episode of season 1 of Marvel's What If...? is a not so surprising continuation of episode 8 that showed Ultron destroying his entire universe and the Watcher not being able to stop him. It begins with amazing action! The hand to hand combat mimics the Captain America Winter Soldier movie and it's great! When The Watcher finally does break his oath and gets involved, you can smell the emergency in the air. The Watcher gathers together one person from each of the different universes we've come to know in each prior episode's 30mins runtime. Captain Carter, Doctor Strange Supreme, Star-Lord T'Challa, Party Thor, Killmonger, and a Gamora who killed Thanos in her universe that we never got to see before. The capacity of teamwork the 'Guardians of the Multiverse' show is amazing! They work really well as a team for people who don't even know one another. Seeing all these storylines that literally had nothing to do with one another, besides the Watcher watching each of them, converging, is really great! Something happens toward the end of the episode that is quite expected and very cliché, but they change it up in a cool way and make a slight twist out of it.

Things can't always go back to how they were before and that's sad. Widow's story was especially sad, but they found a BEAUTIFUL way to close her out with a better ending for her character in this universe really. Natasha was the only one to call The Watcher out for only thinking of them as stories and simple characters, when I find it equally sad that that's ALL he has. His job is to watch and that's it. He has infinite amounts of powers probably as well, and can do nothing most times except this time he broke his oath. These stories are his life, his books, so it does mean a lot to him, and I understood that. The ending of this episode makes me wonder how these stories will affect the multiverse since they're all canon.

My Final Thoughts...

This was an REALLY INTERESTING AND GOOD short series! The animation and scenery was different and beautiful. The stories they told and the changes to the characters they made were all intriguing. I am glad that it ended on a lighter note because almost all of the episodes were pretty sad and upsetting. Depressing even in some cases. I have more questions for some of the episodes that I can imagine probably will be answered in the Marvel Cinematic Universe at some point, especially with the Multiverse opening up now. I can definitely see some of these storylines coming back into the MCU one day and having huge implications for the future of the Multiverse! This show definitely got me excited for the future.

Marvel's What If...? TV Series Poll

This TV Series was a.... Diamond!!!

Where You Can Watch...

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