Marvel’s What If…?
What If…? (2021-) Season 1 review
Theatrical. Streaming. Rental. Media is more than a linear path. It’s a prism of endless possibility, where a single idea can branch out into infinite moneymaking possibilities, creating alternate schemes from the ones you know. I am the Reviewer. I am your guide through these vast new properties. Follow me, and ponder the question… Is What If Good…?
So What If…? is an animated Marvel series on Disney+ set in a series of multiverses that offer alternative characters, events, and storylines set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The series, from director Bryan Andrews, is based on a line of comics and graphic novels from Marvel that essentially follow the same idea, with none of them connected to the primary timeline, to my knowledge. The series premiered on Disney+ mid-August, with the final episode of Season 1 coming out just this past week.
Honestly, I didn’t really like What If…? The concept is certainly unique, but I think about half the series fails to truly run with the concept while the other half banks on some conveniences that are often hard to get over. For example, probably the best episode on the series, “What If… Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?” is set in a world where Christine dies and Strange fails to save her. As compelling as this take on the Time Machine story is, there IS a universe where she doesn’t die, so the entire episode feels like a stretch… Right?
This show is such a grab-bag of quality that I think the best way to go through this review is to do it episode-to-episode. Before I do that- I didn’t really like the animation style. Sure the action looked great, but the smooth, non-descript style bordered too much on ‘uncanny valley’ for me. Anyway, on to the episode!
What If… Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?
Eh, it’s fine. This was a decent way to start the series and get audiences used to the concept, but aside from some awesome action sequences, its just a play-by-play of one of the least interesting Marvel movies. 5/10.
What If… T’Challa Became a Star-Lord?
Awesome! Just- the best episode. Hearing Chadwick Boseman again was really touching, and this episode was as impactful as it was fun. Plus, it really runs with the idea better than most of the episodes! 8/10.
What If… The World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?
Ah, it’s fine. I don’t really buy everything from this episode, but it’s an interesting concept. 6/10.
What If… Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?
Much better! Again I have trouble getting on board with the idea itself, but wow the execution was pretty stellar! Second best in the season, and a surprisingly moving one at that. 8/10.
What If… Zombies?!
This one could have and should have been the best episode, as it is based on arguably the most famous Marvel What If story. But they tried to balance the tone with a heavy dose of comedy that- wow does NOT work. Also it just ends. This was one of many that started to feel WAY too short. 5/10.
What If… Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?
Interesting idea! TOO SHORT! This one just- ends. 4/10.
What If… Thor Were an Only Child?
Terrible. Just, the worst episode. It tried hard to be the fun, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) episode of the bunch, but it simply didn’t work. I get the need to lighten the mood before the last few episodes, but I hated every moment of this dumb alternate universe. Or, as Thor would say, this episode was the ‘party pooper.’ 3/10.
What If… Ultron Won?
Not bad actually. I think, like the Dr. Strange episode, I have trouble buying some of the concept itself. But the execution was again pretty interesting! 7/10.
What If… The Watcher Broke His Oath?
Now the finale was decent too, but not really satisfying enough to make the potential of this series truly come to fruition. 6/10.
As solid as the voice performances from the returning cast and the newcomers replacing the cast that didn’t return are, the nostalgia of hearing those voices never carried the show for me. Why? Because the week-to-week release schedule didn’t work. Waiting every week to make a coin toss on the quality of the episode left us almost never watching them on the day they came out. Usually we got to Saturday or Sunday and said, “Hey did we watch What If…?” Then Rachel would say something like, “I don’t think so, but I don’t really care.” And you know what, I didn’t really care either. So if you like What If…? That’s totally fine! But if you aren’t sure about it, I don’t think it’s really worth the time. 5/10.
So Marvel’s What If…? Did you see it? What did you think? Be sure to leave a like or a comment below and let us know! And if you liked this review and you want to read more like it, leave a like, leave a comment, let us know! Got something you want us to talk about? Tell us in the comments and we’ll write about it! Of course, thanks for reading!
-review by Ryan Prince