By: Jacob Gross
Marvel has begun to experiment in their recent release “What If..?”, an animated show that explores the different directions that the Marvel Universe could have turned into. “What If…?” currently has three episodes released each episode exploring what could have happened if certain characters had made different choices, throwing their destinies into different directions and stories that were not originally their own.
In the first episode of “What If…?,” Marvel asks the question: What if Steve Rogers never became Captain America? What if Steve Rogers was shot, and someone else had to go in his place? In this alternate timeline, Peggy Carter steps into the capsule and becomes Captain Carter.
This premise explores gender and its relation to the military in the 1950’s. Throughout the first half of the episode, Colonel John Flynn super-soldier program being wasted, that they might as well of sent the serum into pure air. He expends all of his screen time being against Agent Carter and does not send her into battle. Agent Carter ignores the colonel, and the episode consists of Captain Carter and the Howling Commandoes fighting Nazi’s across Europe.
At a little over half an hour, the episode has a brisk pace that may be too quick for some. The episode asks “what if America’s super solider was a woman?” But it doesn’t have enough time to answer that question. It shows a sexist opposition to a female super soldier in the form of the colonel but does not have the time to answer it. The episode could have used an extra five minutes to show the colonel’s mindset breakdown looking at Agent Carter’s success, but he just seems to drop out of the episode entirely, with only a couple lines spoken and the audience confused on where he stands.
In the second episode of “What If…?,” Marvel explores the question: What if T’Challa became Star Lord? This episode takes a lighter thematic tone from the last as it shows off a Star Lord who is confident in his own skin, one who is able to disarm the maddest of Titans with a strong and disciplined argument. Recorded before Chadwick Boseman’s passing, the episode looks at the gang of Ravagers that have turned away have turned their backs on crime. In the episode they go to steal the Embers of Genesis – – a seed that can transform ecosystems. In this universe, the Collector filled a power vacuum left by Thanos, and he has the Embers of Genesis. This episode has a fast pace heist style plot and has plenty of what made the Guardians of the Galaxy one of Marvel’s most beloved story lines.
In the third episode of “What if…?,” Marvel explores the question: What if earth’s mightiest heroes never became the Avengers? What if they had been targeted by an assassin as Nick Fury began to assemble them? Taking place before the start of the first Avengers, this episode chronicles how easily the Avengers Initiative could’ve fallen into chaos. Quite possibly the most depressing out of the first three episodes, it addresses a question that Marvel used to frequently receive: if no one ever dies, how is the audience supposed to be afraid for the characters? Marvel started their universe with a common convention of action movies: do not kill off your main characters. The third episode of What If…? takes a close look at what the M.C.U. might have looked like if they ignored that trope.
What If…?” is an impressive show, with a crisp, enjoyable animation style and compelling premise. Its fast-paced humor and action is sure to be familiar to any Marvel fan, and its stories will keep the viewer’s attention longer than their runtime.
“What if…?” is the fourth Marvel original TV show originally released on Disney+. These shows have diverged from their movies, often giving marvel a chance to explore their characters with a deeper lens. “Wanda Vision” took an in-depth snapshot of PTSD; “The Falcon and Winter Solider” looked at the contradiction of America’s self-proclaimed equality and its extensive history in denying such equality; and “Loki” looked at the inherent loneliness that comes with being the trickster god. With these shows, Marvel is using the silver screen for a more intimate look at the hearts of their characters, with What If…? giving Marvel the opportunity to explore which depths of their heroes’ personalities are inherent, and which parts might have been formed by circumstances.