Review: Marvel’s “What If…?” astounds with its what-if twists to beloved plotlines

William Fisher, Entertainment Editor

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“‘What If…?’ will present alternate realities in the Marvel Universe that are set to warp your world in the summer of 2021, exclusively on Disney+,” stated an article titled “SDCC 2019: All of the Marvel Studios News Coming Out of Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con” on, which announced this show and other Marvel Cinematic Universe projects.


   Marvel’s “What If…?” is the latest in a line of short series from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) streaming on Disney+. The first episode premiered on Aug. 11, and as of Sept. 9, five episodes have been released. So far, the show provides one of the freshest takes on the MCU yet and will be a joy to watch as more episodes are released. 

   The intro. starts with “time, space, reality– it’s more than a linear path; it’s a prism of endless possibilities, where a single choice can branch out into infinite realities, creating alternate worlds from the ones you know.” 

   It is narrated by the watcher, a god-like being who is able to observe these endless realities but forbidden to interfere with them. 

   “I love the ‘What If…’ concept,” English Teacher Alexander Kapotas said. “That’s exactly the approach that I want students to take in when they are in my Mythology class.  Anyone can know the trivia of mythology, but it takes a critical mind and a vivid imagination to take a canonical story and explore it from a different perspective.”

   The MCU has a deep and rich lore formed throughout its more than ten years of existence, which began in 2008 with “Iron Man.” This series is set on showing viewers the effects on this lore if the characters made different decisions and/or events played out differently. 

  The first episode, “What If… Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?” begins right at the scene in “Captain America: The First Avenger” where Steve Rogers is about to undergo the process to become Captain America, but a small decision by Agent Carter to stay in the room leads to Rogers being injured and Carter undergoing the experiment. 

   The events after this play out similarly to the film, with slight changes. Rogers ends up donning a suit similar to Iron Man and becomes known as the “Hydra Stomper” while Carter is called “Captain Carter.”

   Although enjoyable, this first episode played it a little too safe with the entire episode unfolding like a shortened version of the film. Therefore, viewers should give this series a try beyond just one episode. 

   “What If… T’Challa Became a Star-Lord?” released next had “T’Challa”, the “Black Panther” in the movie timeline, becoming Star-Lord instead of Peter Quill. The episode centers on a heist to steal the “Ember’s of Genesis” from the “Collector.” 

   The relationship between T’Challa and his father of sorts “Yondu” is especially enjoyable. “Thanos” also shows up but as a hero fighting with T’Challa, which leads to a lot of funny jokes. 

   One of the best episodes so far, though,  is “What If… the World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?” It’s a thrilling murder mystery, which sees all of the original “Avengers” killed as “Nick Fury” is attempting to recuit them shortly before the “The Avengers” film. 

   This episode is such a delight because of the unexpected turn of events and the dark tone it strikes. 

   The greatest episode released yet, however, is “”What If… Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?” This episode has “Doctor Strange” becoming Doctor Strange because he lost his girlfriend “Christina Palmer” rather than his hands in a car crash. Years later he attempts to bring her back by using the “Eye of Agamotto” to time travel in order to stop her from dying. He finds it impossible, however, and ends up diving into deeper and darker means to accomplish his goal. 

   This episode is excellent because of the somber mood created by the emotional weight of the plot. 

   Finally, the last episode released as of writing this is “”What If… Zombies!?”  Here, “Bruce Banner,” better known as “The Hulk,” comes back to earth at the beginning of “Avengers: Infinity War” to find the earth undergoing a zombie apocalypse. He meets up with a group of surviving heroes and has to reach a camp to find the vaccine for the virus. 

   Although okay, this episode felt too much like the same overused zombie plots in other T.V. shows and films– but with Marvel characters. 

   Besides the plot twists that work in most of the episodes, another intriguing aspect of “What If…?” is it even manages to get some of the actors who play the characters in the films to voice them in the show. This includes the late Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther. 

   As a result, viewers will come to agree with Kapotas who summed up the visuals and the sounds for this show in one word– amazing.  

   When asked if he would continue watching the show, Kapotas stated, “naturally,” and viewers will draw the same conclusion once they give this series a shot.