Disney+ is the place to be if you’re a Marvel fan. This year has seen 4 awesome new series entries to the MCU, and there’s no sign of that slowing, with the premiere of Hawkeye just around the corner. The latest series, What If…? ended just a couple of days ago with an action-packed finale. The premise of the show was to examine alternate scenarios, where a slight change in events caused a ripple effect that altered the course of history. It was an exciting way to introduce the multiverse after the events of Loki. Overall, it was a great series, but which episodes were best? I thought it would be fun to do an article ranking every episode of What If…?!
The show used an animated format, as opposed to all the previous MCU shows which had been live action. I wasn’t hooked on it at first, but I can appreciate the comic feel that they were going for. Some episodes definitely benefited more from it than others, but there were several scenes in the show that I wish we could’ve seen with real actors and special effects. Most of the characters in the show were voiced by their original actors, but some like Captain America and Iron Man used replacement voice actors. Please be aware, this article will contain substantial spoilers.
9th – What If… Captain Carter Were The First Avenger?
Now, please don’t take this being last place to mean that it was a bad episode, because it really wasn’t. It’s just that in a series of great episodes, there had to be a last place, and this was it for me. I do feel a little bad, as I think part of the reason I didn’t enjoy it as much was simply because this was the first episode, and so I wasn’t acclimated to the animated style, and was subconsciously comparing it to the live action shows that had come before it. However, I also felt it was more than a little derivative. Rather than causing a huge branch in the timeline, it pretty much just replaced Steve’s story with Peggy’s. The episode felt pretty much like a scene for scene remake of Captain America: The First Avenger.
Interestingly, Captain Carter herself was actually one of my favourite characters of the entire series, just unfortunately the episode itself didn’t really do her full justice. I did still enjoy it, though. It was also great to see Steve take on the mantle of the Hydra Stomper. It goes to show that even without his powers, Steve Rogers has the heart of a hero. This episode was a perfectly fine introduction to the series, but couldn’t quite compete with the even greater things to come.
8th – What If… Thor Were an Only Child?
This was a really amusing episode to watch, however, I’m ranking it pretty low down simply because it lacked any major stakes. The other episodes all have well-developed and exciting plots, but this one was basically just: Thor has a party and hopes he doesn’t get in trouble with his mummy. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a lot of fun, but it felt like a bit of light-hearted relief rather than something with relevance to the overall arc of the series. Still, it did give us a chance to get to know this version of Thor before he returned in the finale.
It was interesting to see that Thor and Loki were actually really close in this version. It would seem that not being raised as brothers was what made them connect as brothers. Tom Hiddleston always crushes it when it comes to the delivery of funny lines, as does Chris Hemsworth, so watching the two of them riff off of each other was brilliant. There were also some cute interactions between Thor and Jane. I liked that they found their way to each other even with a different origin story. It always upset me that they weren’t endgame (pun intended) in the original MCU storyline.
7th – What If… Ultron Won?
I’m probably in a minority here, but I wasn’t all that fussed on this episode. It just felt a bit… Plain. Which I know seems ridiculous because it had tons of action scenes, and a really high-stakes plot. It’s just a personal preference, but I’ve never been all that interested in a battle between two super powerful beings. I much prefer watching more grounded fights, between two people with limited powers. Give me Captain America taking down the Hydra goons over Ultron Vs The Watcher any day. I also struggled with accepting just how Ultron was even able to enter The Watcher’s realm. I get that the infinity stones are incredibly powerful, but on a multiversal scale? We learned in Loki just how irrelevant infinity stones are, so why was that different for Ultron? Why was one single set of infinity stones enough to threaten all the universes?
I also felt like the episode was purely set-up for the finale. I liked how all the other episodes had their own thing going, as well as contributing to the overall arc. However, this one feels like it literally only works as a part 1. You couldn’t view it in isolation and feel satisfied. Having said that, I did really like the Clint and Natasha scenes. Hawkeye and Black Widow have always had such a great dynamic, so it was cool to see that again. I also liked the contrast that in this universe Clint sacrificed himself so that Natasha could save the day. It was a nice parallel to the events of Endgame where Black Widow had to die so that Hawkeye could get the soul stone.
6th – What If… Dr Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?
This one was straight up depressing. Whilst most of the other episodes either leaned into the action side or the comedy side, this episode was all about the emotions. It was gut-wrenching to watch Dr Strange lose the love of his life, and constantly have to relive it. No matter what he did, he couldn’t save her, and you could see his heart breaking again and again. You really see a man in conflict, here. He just wants his beloved Christine back, he doesn’t mean for anything bad to happen. But despite the warnings he’s given, he persists along a dangerous path, blinded by desperation. Ultimately, it culminates in the end of his universe, and it’s the first episode that has such high stakes.
One thing I loved about it is that we got to see first-hand the extent of Dr Strange’s powers. He absorbed all those other creatures with such ease, and became almost unlimited in his strength. We also started to realise the ambivalence of The Watcher. His duty is to watch, and no matter what he sees, he refuses to interfere. He could have saved Dr Strange’s universe, but instead he just sat back and watched it get destroyed. Whilst the episode certainly raised some interesting emotional angles, it wasn’t as exciting to watch as some of the others, so I couldn’t rank it any higher than this.
5th – What If… The Watcher Broke His Oath?
This episode was very middle of the pack, which isn’t exactly what you want from a finale. It was the culmination of everything that had happened so far, and honestly it fell a bit flat. It was still really exciting, but I felt it had a lot more potential. I did enjoy watching the team be assembled, particularly when Iron Man got rejected. It was odd to see this Gamora that hadn’t yet been introduced, due to an episode being cut from the season. Apparently we’ll get to see the Sakaar episode in season 2, so we’ll retrospectively learn what this Gamora was all about. It was also great to see Captain Carter again, as I love her powerful yet feminine energy. It was interesting to see The Watcher finally break his oath, especially after everything we’ve seen him let slide throughout the season.
Dr Strange always feels like he’s 10 steps ahead of everyone else, and having him lead the team made sense. Most of them seemed out of their depth when fighting Ultron, but Dr Strange appeared relatively unfazed. The fight scenes in this episodes seemed dragged out, and I’m not sure how I felt about the ending. Trapping the bad guys in a pocket dimension feels like a bit of a cop-out. I really liked that Black Widow got to return to a different universe, though. For a moment, I thought she’d get re-introduced into the main MCU timeline, but that wasn’t the case. Still, inserting her into a world without the Avengers could lead to some interesting adventures in her future.
4th – What If… the World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?
Now we’re getting into the episodes that really stood out. This episode was one of the more fast-paced throughout the series, as there were so many scenes that needed to happen. The Avengers were the crux of the MCU, and so it was interesting to see a scenario where all the members were killed off before they could even begin saving the world. It was fun trying to come up with my own theory for what was happening, and about halfway through the episode, I decided “it’s Ant-Man!” but I couldn’t work out what his motivations would be. It turns out I was half right. It was indeed the Ant-Man costume, but it wasn’t Scott at the helm. Instead, it was Hank, who was getting revenge for the death of his daughter Hope. In this universe, she’d died whilst working for Shield, and Hank couldn’t forgive them.
I loved how we saw little snippets of all the different Avengers. It was a great way to include all the characters whilst still contributing to the overall plot. It was a really intense episode with fantastic dialogue and great pacing. Whilst it didn’t quite have the same impact on me as my top 3, I still think this was a very solid episode.
3rd – What If… Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?
I expect this one isn’t quite as high up for most people, but I loved it. Killmonger is my favourite villain across the whole MCU, and so it was awesome to see him again. The thing I love about him is that he’s so morally grey. It would be easy to categorise him as evil, but his intentions are always in the right place. He’s jaded, and bitter, and rightfully so. This episode showed us more of his cunning and determination, and it was great to see. Michael B. Jordan is a phenomenal actor, and was able to give so much depth to Killmonger, even with just voiceover.
I’m not a huge Iron Man fan, but his character worked well for this storyline. Of course, in this timeline Tony Stark didn’t end up becoming Iron Man, as he was rescued before he got injured. Instead, he seemed to lean more towards his idea from Age of Ultron – putting a suit of armour around the world. The plot involving vibranium and Wakanda was interesting, but I would’ve liked more. The story ended so abruptly, and I know the point of these episodes was to show little snapshots of other timelines, but I would’ve preferred a more conclusive ending nonetheless.
2nd – What If… Zombies!?
I’m a huge fan of zombie media, and so I was thrilled when I saw the title of this episode. The concept of having the Avengers face zombies? Awesome. The delivery didn’t disappoint, it was a thrill ride from start to finish, and felt like it could’ve been a series all on its own. Spider-Man was the perfect choice as a protagonist, although it’s a shame Tom Holland couldn’t play him. However, his replacement voice actor Hudson Thames did a great job of capturing Peter Parker’s energy. Ant-Man’s appearance was also a delight, as Paul Rudd is the master of comedy lines.
Vision worked well as a pseudo-antagonist, I can totally believe him doing everything to protect zombie-Wanda. That was such a terrifying reveal, because super-powered zombies is such a unique idea. I loved that she retained her abilities, and she was a truly frightening adversary. It was great to see Vision’s change of heart when he decided to help the heroes, and the ending was so intense! I really hope we get to see a continuation of this timeline in season 2.
1st – What If… T’Challa Became a Star-Lord?
This episode was just… *Chef’s kiss*. Absolute perfection, and the only episode that I felt fully utilised the animated style. Every other episode had moments I felt would’ve been much better in live action, but this one truly worked as a cartoon. I adored seeing young T’Challa being obsessed with space, it was really cute. It gave even more depth to an already brilliant character. The episode also highlighted just how powerful compassion can be. T’Challa was so well-loved as Star-Lord, and made everyone’s lives better. He was even able to get through to Thanos! I know it was rather silly, but I loved this socially-conscious version of Thanos. The final scene was heart-warming too, one of a handful of happy endings in the series. It was lovely to see him reunited with his father at long last.
The episode was also a really touching memorial for Chadwick Boseman. He was such a wonderfully talented man, and this episode gave him a chance to really shine. The MCU will definitely be poorer for his loss, so it was nice to be able to have T’Challa in the spotlight this one last time. I admit, I cried at the end when the ‘In Loving Memory’ message came on the screen. Chadwick was such a kind soul, and a fantastic actor, and it’s so sad to think of all the movies he’ll never get to make.
What If…? was a really cool concept for a series, and I’m looking forward to seeing where they go from here. They were able to showcase loads of unique scenarios, as well as introducing the reality of a multiverse. I feel the series works as a useful preparation for what we can expect in the next phase of MCU movies. Spider-Man: No Way Home is coming up in December, and going by the trailer will rely heavily on the multiverse. It’s going to be really interesting watching the stakes amplify as the MCU goes forward.
What did you think of the What If…? series? What was your favourite episode? Join the discussion over in our Facebook community!