I try to stay away from spoilers, but just in case, SPOILERS ARE POSSIBLE for the first three episodes.
I have to admit it, but sometimes the MCU exhausts me. Now don’t get me wrong. I love it, especially over the past few years as I’ve gotten more involved in the screening and reviewing and podcasting side of things.
But the analysis? As the young kids say, “sheeeeeesh.” Trying to keep up with all the hidden meanings, easter eggs, comic references, and above all, trying to predict everything that is and was and ever will happen is absolutely a full time job. And sometimes, I really just want to watch something new that I don’t have to try and analyze.
Enter What If…?, the newest Marvel series airing on Disney+. I went into the first three episodes feeling absolutely free because I figured “hey, who knows where this will go.” And personally, I was totally right. It did everything I hoped it would. It connected me with the characters I loved, it stayed true to the heart of the storylines while simultaneously flipping the script on old expectations. The animation kept it youthful and energetic and before I knew it, and it’s absolutely a great tie in to all the impact that Loki has made on all the timelines everywhere in the multiverse.
Episode one takes us back to the original Avenger – Captain America – and marks the moment of Peggy Carter’s (Hayley Atwell) choice to stay in the room. From there, the entire trajectory of both her and Steve Rogers’s stories changes. Forced to make a split-second decision to save the Super Soldier mission, Carter takes Steve’s place and receives the serum. Fighting the same battle but with a new role, Agent Carter faces an even greater uphill battle as she rebrands herself “Captain Carter.” Not only facing the typical gender stereotype of being a woman in a ‘man’s role’, she also finds herself facing a monster we have yet to truly see – and the result will reverberate across other timelines.
Episode two takes two of my favorite stories: Guardians of the Galaxy and Black Panther and gives us a galaxy in which the enigmatic T’Challa is able to persuade even the most deadly of villains (ahem, Thanos) to work towards a more peaceful universe. Oh how wonderful it was to see Chadwick Boseman’s iconic work as Black Panther on screen once more. He 100% embodies T’Challa, and there will never be another one like him. That compelling portrayal gives life throughout this episode as T’Challa wrestles with what it means to serve both his people and the universe.
Episode three really pulls no punches when showing us what could happen if the Avengers were never the Avengers. Instead of joining together, they are targeted one by one, and Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is left facing a vengeful Loki (Tom Hiddleston really is in his element these days) threatening to destroy the world. But he’s not out for domination… at least, not initially. Instead, they must work together to catch a far more elusive foe, but as we all know about Loki, he’s always got something up his sleeve.
See? No analysis. No guessing games. No frantic fan theories. At least not from me. What If…? is the kind of series that is free to reset expectations and do something out of the box. In a word, it’s fun. Pure, good, fun. And I’m here for it.
Catch it now on Disney+, and enjoy! We can all analyze later 🙂