Marvel Studios’ What If…? is a show that gave us the Multiverse and a look into many of the different universes contained within it. Coming off of the Loki season finale, we may have not gotten direct answers to what had occurred after, but we did get this show as an answer to the question of what kind of realities may have been created by the Loki season finale. It was a quick way to introduce the Multiverse to the audience and make them quickly familiar with characters and plotlines that may appear in the movies or other Disney+ shows. With each episode came different characters and different plotlines, so here is what I think is the ranking of each episode after giving the show a few weeks to digest. I would be curious to know what your own personal ranking is, but without further ado here is my own personal ranking:
Episode 1: What If… Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?
While this episode may be in last place, it’s certainly not because it is a bad episode whatsoever. This episode is in last place just because it is really the only episode that strictly follows the script of one of the movies and thus isn’t as special as the other episodes. However, I love Peggy Carter, especially after watching the short-lived Agent Carter television show, so seeing her get the star treatment with becoming Captain Carter is fantastic. Even though it was the weakest episode, I am still looking forward to seeing Captain Carter in season 2 and hopefully even someday in live-action.
Episode 7: What If… Thor Were an Only Child?
This episode is certainly fun and probably the funniest episode of the show, however, this comes at the cost of feeling like a truly important episode. This episode feels like it has the least amount of consequence, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just makes the episode feel less important. However, the Captain Marvel versus Party Thor scene was truly epic and makes me incredibly excited to see both these characters on the big screen again. All the character easter eggs in this episode and getting to see Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster are all great things about this episode. I just wish they did a bit better at explaining and talking about Thor being an only child and Loki being raised by the frost giants, as I feel that that would have been really interesting too. Oh, and who could forget that amazing ending that revealed Infinity Ultron? That was a major plus for the episode.
Episode 6: What If… Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?
Let me start off by saying that I absolutely love the concept for this episode. I loved Michael B. Jordan’s performance as Killmonger in Black Panther, so the fact that we got an episode revolving around his character is fantastic. However, with boosting up Killmonger’s character comes with the cost of making the other characters come across as more foolish and gullible. Also, the ending is way too abrupt and sudden that it actually makes this episode seem unfinished as well. It was amazing to get another Wakanda battle sequence though, especially getting to see Angela Bassett’s Ramonda getting in on the action was particularly exciting. Overall, though, while there were some major faults with this episode, getting to see Killmonger back in action was a major highlight of the season overall.
Episode 5: What If… Zombies?!
An episode inspired by the Marvel Zombies comic books was a fantastic and exciting idea. In execution, however, it left a little to be desired. It was a fun idea to have the classic zombie survivor trope be a bunch of seemingly random MCU characters, but the fact that this was an ensemble episode meant that no character really stood out too much. Though this is not too surprising as what the episode title suggests, the focal point for this episode is the zombies. I was also actually really surprised by how far with the gore that Disney and Marvel were willing to go with this episode, which was a definite plus when it came to having a Marvel Zombies episode. Seeing the zombies be sliced in half by Okoye was amazing, I only wish they were willing to go a bit farther with it, but I’ll take what I can get. I also wouldn’t forgive myself if I had forgotten to mention how amazing it was to see zombie Wanda, with the Baba Yaga gag being an excellent leadup to the threat of Wanda.
Episode 9: What If… The Watcher Broke His Oath?
The Guardians of the Multiverse are here, but their team-up ends up, unfortunately, feeling a bit rushed and pieced together. To be fair, the Watcher is literally piecing them together, but to me, it doesn’t feel as natural as if the show maybe had the Watcher push them together instead of literally bringing them together. That being said, however, it was exciting to have these stories come colliding and get a glimpse as to what occurred after the endings of the individual episodes. Unfortunately, with this season being one episode shorter meant that we lost out on having the Gamora episode, so within the context of the show, her inclusion feels out of place and distracting. Though this episode does have some major positives, like having Ultron versus the Guardians of the Multiverse was very satisfying. Also, that post-credits of Captain Carter finding the HYDRA Stomper is a great scene and one that makes me excited for her next episode.
Episode 2: What If… T’Challa Became a Star-Lord?
This may have not been Chadwick Boseman’s final time in the MCU, as he was a few more episodes of this very show, but this was his big sendoff episode as T’Challa. While it was emotional to hear Boseman voicing the character, having the episode be comedic helped, and made the episode so much fun despite Boseman’s passing being an obvious shadow that was cast over the episode. Heist Nebula and “Good” Thanos were some other major highlights but seeing the goodness in T’Challa was both amazing and heart-wrenching to see. Also, seeing T’Challa finding the Wakandan tech was tear-inducing. It was sad to watch, knowing that this will be one of the last times that we will see T’Challa in any form, but I think it is an episode that Chadwick Boseman should be and hopefully would be proud of.
Episode 3: What If… The World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?
Having a murder mystery episode involving the Avengers was an awesome idea that did end up turning out to be really cool. A Black Widow and Nick Fury centric episode was an amazing thing to have and finally getting to see the events of The Incredible Hulk acknowledged again was exciting. Going off that, having Fury’s big week, something that was really only known by fans who kept up with the MCU-based comics, be acknowledged by Marvel Studios is also an extremely exciting prospect. The only major issue that I had with the episode was that Yellowjacket Hank Pym being the killer sort of came out of nowhere and didn’t feel like that great of a setup, but I think this is excusable given that this was a thirty-minute episode of television and not a movie.
Episode 8: What If… Ultron Won?
It was a shame to only have Ultron in one movie, something this episode makes even clearer. Ultron is a truly formidable villain and a big part of Marvel Comics, so having him end up being the big bad of the season overall is exciting. However, while Ross Marquand certainly does a great job as Ultron, he is no James Spader, who is definitely missed. Another thing that this episode benefits from, is us getting to see more of Natasha and Clint working together, something the movies haven’t been able to give us a lot of. I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t mention just how much continuity that this episode gets wrong, especially with the Ultron stuff. It wasn’t that much of a problem, but it was a bit distracting and took me out of the episode a bit. This is also the first episode of the season where the Watcher has a major part in the episode, and it was awesome seeing an Infinity Stone boosted Ultron fight the Watcher.
Episode 4: What If… Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?
With this Doctor Strange centered episode comes what is hands down the best episode of the season. This episode was a classic tragedy in that we knew it would end badly, but you still wish that it would all be okay in the end, despite all the signs that it wouldn’t. Benedict Cumberbatch gives a fantastic performance as Doctor Strange Supreme, as just by his voice you can tell the true heartbreak that he is going through throughout the episode. The weight of this episode also feels ginormous not only because of the subject matter but also because this episode is one of the episodes with the most potential to cross over to the movies, especially since Doctor Strange is a major player in at least two upcoming movies. This was also the first episode that the Watcher had interacted with any of the characters which was incredibly shocking in the moment. This was, all in all, a fantastic episode of not only What If…? but also with the MCU in general.
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Joel Tapia is a contributing writer at All Ages of Geek. You can follow him on Twitter @tapioca621