Warning: Spoilers for the first six episodes of Marvel’s What if…? follow up.
Marvel’s What If … is an exciting animated alternative take on the constant MCU franchise, spectators are sliding door style adventures in which fan-favorite characters make different choices, big and small, that send reality in a very different way.
It started with a light-hearted mirror-verse type about Captain America: The First Avengers, in which Peggy Carter replaced Abraham Erskine’s Super Soldier Serum with Steve Rogers. This episode, more or less, played out like the 2011 movie, only with different faces in different places. Later episodes would not only deliver bigger swings, but also much darker results, echoing the endings that readers experienced earlier the original What If …? BDen, which often show extremely difficult and harsh results and resolutions.
Here is a running list of What If …? ‘S most surprising moments, from massive monsters to vicious twists to – yup – the actual end of entire universes.
Marvel’s What If … ?: The Shocking Moments Of The Show So Far
Shuma-Gorath Part 1
“What if … Captain Carter was the First Avenger ?,” adhering to a very basic premise, which looks like the first cap film to be repeated with different characters, did not offer any significant shocks or shifts, but the arrival of a giant cosmic creature we did unhuelen (nothing is confirmed, and some think it was a form of hive) was Marvel’s own Lovecraftian “Great Old One”, Shuma-Gorath, was a funny poke. Ever since the story of the hero’s capture of the Tesseract early on, Red Skull has been calling his Plan B a monster he believed to be Hydra’s ultimate weapon. Of course, he was quickly sent off by this tentacles, telepathic beast that threatened to destroy the entire world as it emerged from a portal and grew larger and larger.
Star-Lord Ass Beloved
Prince T’Challa is kidnapped by Yondu’s Ravagers was a big twist in itself, but the better thrill was to see that T’Challa, as light and hopeful that he is natural, managed to turn Yondu and the entire Ravager crew into a volunteer gang of Robin Hood – Style thieves who have tried to make better use of the entire galaxy. With his Wakandan ideals forever in his heart, T’Challa softened the hardest of cosmic badasses with little more than kind words and sensible feeling.
Thanos Ass Fun-Loving
The most surprising of the T’Challa conversions was … the Mad Titan himself, Thanos! Now a fun and warm member of Do-Gooders’ T’Challa Band, Thanos sometimes laughed at the thought of who he was – with its genocide plan to wipe out half of its existence now laughed at as an afterthought.
End times Part 1
Episode 2 of What if …? -with the title “What if … Challah became a Star-Lord?” -has been a heist-y feel-good affair, but its dark, wavy end is reminiscent of the strange diabolical closure. Since the ego’s earthly child never brought it into space, and never became part of the Guardians of the Galaxy, our world, and every other world, has been susceptible to “The Expansion”. Peter Quill grew up as an orphan and was by no means willing to resist the power of his pop.
We HAD a Hulk
“What if … the world lost its most powerful hero?” was a murder mystery, spilled a delicious evil yarn all over The Avengers during “Fury’s Big Week” before they really got together. Tony Stark, Thor, and Hawkeye fell on a secret raid, but it was all fun and games until … The Hulk went “kablooey!” Yes, the unsinkable green skin color brood has gone down, leaving Betty, Natasha, General Ross, and fans all in suspense. Whoever took out the most powerful hero on earth was not around.
Hank Pym is crazy
Unlike other episodes, episode 3 hid the various choices / events from us to the end, as it would have spoiled the big twist to the top. So what was the difference in this reality? Well, in this realm, Hope Van Dyne was recruited to SHIELD. Then she dies on a mission to her father, Hank Pym, would be mad with rage, blaming Fury and his manipulative recruiting techniques (he would have used Hope’s mother, Janet, as a sentimental pressure point). Now as a yellowjacket, Pym effectively thought the previous one was untouchable (makes you realize how powerful the Ant-Man really is).
End times Part 2
Even though Fury and Loki worked together and defeated Hank Pym, Earth was still lost. Even if it’s fair, it fell in a much more peaceful and passive way than – say – a giant chitauri invasion of New York. With Thor’s murder, Loki’s plans to conquer Midgard came much earlier, so that there was no death experience / case of Asgard, dealing with Thanos, or an unjustified desire to release violence.
Do they need a cap at all?
Episode 3 ended with a subjective earth – and Fury and Coulson discover a frozen Steve Rogers, giving viewers a glimmer of hope that our world can possibly be recaptured by the overwhelming forces of Loki Asgard. But in one last shot, we saw Carol Danvers, Captain Marvel as well there … honestly, it gives us a lot more hope.
Shuma-Gorath Part 2
Yes, what if …? the Shuma-Gorath has gone mad!
In the premiere episode, the beast that Captain Carter betrays is Shuma-Gorath, but in episode 4- “What if … Dr. Strange lost his heart instead of his hands?” -that tentative being-from-beyond makes its return and now, in the context of Dr. Strange, it very much so is the Shuma-Gorath. With Stephen Strange trying to pick up other magical creatures to become powerful enough to change time, Shuma-Gorath is staged as the most powerful of the bunch.
Well strangely lost
Episode 4 was definitely the darkest chapter of the series. Part of the reason was that the spectators for a short time thought that this was a good thing. When the demented Doctor Strange Supreme was stopped against his old “good self”, in a last glimpse of The Ancient One to prevent the destruction of the entire universe, it seemed right and justified surely triumph, right?
No. The comic Supreme has destroyed his old heroic self, still determined to get by with his crazy plan.
Watcher’s Like “See Ya!” / End Times Part 3
As episode 4 dealing with Doctor Strange becomes immensely powerful, it was able to open up the multiverse a little more than usual. Strange could actually feel Uatu’s driving presence, even asking the watchman, in the end, to help him. But as much as Strange regretted everything (though at last confronted with the consequences he was warned about), Uatu was like “LOL, sorry” and had the whole universe, with trillions of lives, broken and dying.
MCU’s Spider-Man graciously entered the movies without repeating his uncle Ben’s origins. Not that it did not happened, but we did not have to do it see it happen again. But Uncle Ben definitely exists. Not only is the character hinted at at Homecoming, during Peter’s first reunion with Tony Stark (when it’s clear that Peter feels guilty about something), but his Ben initializes luggage and uses Far From Home. But it took time What if …? ‘S Episode 5 – “What if … Zombies ?!” – to give us an MCU Peter, who for the first time mentions Uncle Ben’s name out loud.
“I’m covered in Sharon”
“What if … zombies ?!” presented a ton of ghouish undead moments, but one of the best was Hope Van Dyne getting into the mouth of a zombified Sharon Carter and then … back to normal size. Alas! Not only does it speak once again about the power of the Pyms in general, it’s also kind of a nod to the long fan fan discourse about whether the Ant-Man and The Wasp can use this, or, Technique to send regular human (or Mad Titan) enemies. Of course, this kind of tactic is a bit too brutal for the regular MCU movies and shows, but it was fun to see that it is used here, basically, a brainless shell.
Zombie Movie Twist 1
Episode 5, as a complete Zompocalypse story, had some fun with zombie movie clichés. The first was the tried and true troops to find shelter, or an ally, that is not what it seems. The moment when the heroes think they are safe, but there happens to be a dark secret behind the scenes, be it cannibalism or horrible experiments or whatever you have. Here, the gruesome twist involved – well – another kind of WandaVision love story, in which Vision, unable to heal Wanda’s undead status, feed his people – including whole pieces of T’Challa!
Zombie Movie Twist 2 / End Times Part 4
Episode 5 and over like many zombie flicks, drove with our survivors to a place they assumed to be safe and clear from undead hordes. Well, as usual, the “safe haven” they had in mind was just as overrun by ghouls as the rest of the world, meaning they were unknowingly plunged into a death trap. This time … with a Zombie Thanos ready and waiting to reach the Mind Stone and evaporate the whole reality!
Killmonger Killing T’Challa With a Strong Zapper
Episode 6, “What if … Killmonger Saves Tony Stark?” really presented Michael B. Jordan’s Black Panther Evil that saved Tony Stark’s life, which in turn means that Iron Man never came. But this turn of events also led to Stark’s untimely death not long after – at the hands of Killmonger. And not only that, but Killmonger also killed his cousin, T’Challa, which was truly a shocking moment. It’s a What If …? Story, so of course no one is sure, but at the same time it was surprising that the Black Panther himself could be taken out so easily, well … a Tony Stark whatchamacallit zapper. Universe-destroying pivot points in history we may believe, but this seems to go a step too far!
What was the most surprising moment of What If …? for you so far? Let us discuss in the comments!