"Marvel's What If...?" Season One Talkback (Spoilers)

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Frontier

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Probably the most morbid What If yet as each of the original Avengers get killed brutally one-by-one in the MCU's first murder mystery o_O.

It's kind of surreal for me to see Mick Wingert, who was the replacement VA for Iron Man on Avengers Assemble for his solid RDJ impression, actually get to legitimately be an RDJ stand-in in an official Marvel Studios production. My favorite RDJ Iron Man VA is Eric Loomis, but props to Mick Wingert here, especially since we know he'll be appearing in a few more episodes ;).

It's kind of funny that Lake Bell went from voicing Black Widow in a Robot Chicken parody and Poison Ivy in the Harley Quinn cartoon to voicing the ScarJo Black Widow here. Does she just have a thing for snarky redheads in black leather? Because Natasha was really snarky here. She did a solid job with the role here though, and fit into it and matching ScarJo quite well. And that scene of her handing the handcuffs to the guy before beating everybody up was peak Widow :cool:.

Rumlow was just kind of there, but them mentioning Pierce (and even a cameo along with Janet) made me wonder how Hydra would've been involved...

Well, at least they praised Thor's hair and smell despite killing him before he could even try and vain to lift Mjolnir. Before he was like pulling a bunch of Arkham Batman takedowns. And Chris Hemsworth didn't have any lines aside from a grunt, but it was a charismatic grunt :).

Who would have thought it would take a What If to see Betty Ross again? Or her and Bruce together again since we go back to the events of The Incredible Hulk? Even Bruce's design was some weird Edward Norton/Mark Ruffalo hybrid. And we've got Ross hunting Ruffalo's Hulk. I only wish we had gotten to spend more time with Betty and Bruce here...although where was Blonsky :confused:?

It's kind of funny to see, knowing the future character relationships (not that I cared for them myself), Natasha working with Bruce and Betty and trying to help Bruce...poor Betty had to see the man she loved blow up :(.

So without Thor to stop him, Loki takes over Asgard and uses Thor's death as a pretense to invade Earth. Was anyone really expecting him to not go through with it once they caught Thor's killer? So Loki essentially wins in this timeline. At least we got to see Sif and the Warriors Three again :eek:.

Who would have thought that Hope Van Dyne becoming a SHIELD Agent and dying would drive Hank Pym to become the mentally unstable Yellowjacket from the comics and start killing the rest of The Avengers? I guess in that respect, a Pym and a Van Dyne really are kind of vital to The Avengers forming :oops:.

When Nick was desperate enough to call Carol (and probably the first time the Avengers program being named after her felt relevant), I wasn't so surprised to see her there (I wonder if Alexandra Daniels will play her again) at the end, but I'm curious how the Avengers resistence with Steve and Carol will fair. Does Loki even have something that can stop Carol :shrug:?
 

Neo Ultra Mike

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"What If... The World Lost It's Mightiest Heroes?" - You know originally I was going to say "it is annoying that the title credits have to give away all the major actors who are a part of this story which sort of ruins any surprises" but I guess they are wise enough not to give away the killer of a murder mystery so good on them in that regard. And hey unlike the last two episodes where I complained there wasn't really time for an emotional core, this one didn't really delve into that at all. Like if this was a show with a flowing narrative or a movie not really giving time to Natasha's reaction to Clint's death would feel weak but in this kind of show you don't really have time for that sort of thing and I accept that. What does bother me in this one though are the jokes. Since yeah they seem like not only over exaggerations of the character (both Coulson and Clint thinking Thor looks dreamy and Coulson even saying his hair smells like Lavender after he died? Really guys? You're going there?) but quite honestly, the broad sort of comedy does not fit this kind of episode.

This is a more legit murder mystery with someone picking off the world's mightiest heroes and though I know there's not really time for drama, the severity and serious of the situation should really be focused and not quipped on. I understand Widow having a wry sense of humor as that worked (more on that later) as it was more understated and didn't feel like it was disgracing the tone but a fair amount of the jokes here felt pretty unfitting. Granted it's not always done as stuff like Clint's breakdown before his death and Fury reacted to that were handled well but I was kind of hoping this one would have a much more somber tone throughout. I know Marvel's thing is having jokes but in longer form episodes and movies that makes more sense while here if the situation calls for it they shouldn't. The last two episodes were a lot lighter in subject matter so I get them cracking wise more but this wasn't so it did bother me when in the middle of Natasha trying to dig up SHIELD info we had to hear Coulson's dorky "I love steve Rogers" code name. I mean she played it off well but just hearing it kills the mood of the scene which they really shouldn't of done.

I will say though that is my biggest nitpick of the story as yeah I did quite like and get wrapped up in this one. And though once the "It's about Hope" line was given it became obvious who it was I do appreciate how for a lot of it this was a murder mystery where it was really hard to guess exactly where it was going. When I first heard this is the one about someone taking out the Avengers before they could form the team I thought "wait so is this some sort of Winter Soldier protocol? Or is it Loki trying to take out his brother and kin finding out they may stop him later?" but major kudos on the reveal that it was Hank Pym as Yellowjacket due to the what if difference in this timeline being "hey what if Hope actually did wind up becoming a field agent and worked with SHIELD instead of her father totally blocking any attempt of following in her mother's foot steps" and that leading to her death and Hank going crazy and taking out the Avengers. Which if you know anything about the comics is kind of especially cool to see because Hank Pym has been an antagonist to the team being the one who originally created Ultron because of his own insecurity issues and uh... one of the things most known about him was slapping Janet which made it hard to see him as a hero. So I appreciate actually getting to see what it would be like if he was the villain actual within a variation of the MCU and having an actual reason for it and I think it'd make sense he would spill the info to "Fury" because of him being the top of the chain and the one he probably felt was most responsible worked. Also really liked the twist of Fury figuring it out recruiting Loki so he would get that info and beat him around and beat around Pym. There is something cool seeing "Fury" twirl around and slap Pym around so easily (a reminder that I guess this show gets how strong Loki could potentially be more then his own show heh heh) and appearing as all of these copies and then show it was Loki who probably took a lot of time delightfully torturing and offing Pym off screen before you know taking control of the world. I do appreciate that it was hinted too that the whole Carol pager thing was a last resort as the entire point of Fury wanting to have his own team of heroes was ones that could be recruited that had more a general connection to earth so he would only do if absolutely neceassary. Which is why I was going to go "wait if Loki has taken over the earth and nearly all the other Avengers are dead except Captain America why not page Carol" but yeah turns out he did. I guess we don't need to see Carol mop up Loki's forces because... well that was already done in HISHE Captain Marvel so there you go.

But I also appreciate the pacing of this one. I guess you could nitpick that "hey Incredible Hulk/Iron Man 2/Thor didn't happen at the same time timeline wise" but with these what if I'm more then fine them having a differing time scale because the point is all about the differences so being hung up on what should have happened goes against that. And honestly I do appreciate it shows just how deadly an ant man can be being able to take out these targets so steathily from injecting himself into Widow's needle, aiming and firing Clint's arrow, taking out Clint when no one could see that, exploding Hulk into chunks (like I thought they were going a bit too easy on Hulk tossing the tanks around but no they were saving that for his super gory death) and then beating Widow to the death. And I do have to say that though it's clear a fair amount of the talent here like Renner and Ruffalo feel kind of weird in these roles, this ep was really held by Fury and Widow. And yeah even before the whole legal issues I guess ScarJo didn't really want to return to the MCU after her movie but I do have to say as a voice replacement Lake Bell is a really inspired choice. If you saw Harley Quinn you know she has this really lovely dry sense of humor that works with that show's take on Poison Ivy and it works on the MCU's Widow as even her preparing with Fury to talk to Tony or getting out of the cuffs and handing one to the SHIELD agents before beating them up and meeting Betty (major props on the show for remembering her though guess Liv Tyler didn't want to come back which makes sense. Weird they couldn't get William Hurt though to come back for General Ross) to get info on her and find Bruce were good scenes. And yeah it's obviously Samuel L Jackson has nailed Nick Fury even in animation which you know he can deliver if you have seen the Incredibles. And honestly him getting so much focus here really makes me look forward to Secret Invasion aka the show that will finally be more fully on him.

So yeah outside the kind of misplaced comedy really good ep. Weirdly enough maybe due to the focus on Samuel Jackson and a trained assassin under his care being part of a murder pact that revolves around the death of someone from awhile pack and Jackson's character faking something major this reminds me of The Protege though this one had a way better ending. I also noticed how it seems like the Watcher is viewing more and more of what's happening and getting closer to interacting. Coincidence? Maybe just something I noticed. But yeah solid ep and hey now it's good to finally be "caught up" with the people who saw the previous episodes before hand and not have to worry about spoilers as yeah would of been peeved if someone revealed who the killer was before the show got to it here.
 

Freddy

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That might be my favorite episode thus far. Really cool and grim murder mystery, and because it is a standalone story they didn't have to hold any punches. I called the final reveal during Black Widow's death scene, but that just means that the clues made sense and it was great to see Douglas get to play a mentally unhinged version of Pym, since the movies will probably never take him some of the dark places he has been in the comics.

For a minute, I was worried that the writers were too informed by Loki's later character development, but the ending showed that they remembered were he was as a character at that point. I guess it makes sense that he would have to keep up the appearence for the other Asgardians.

Also, hearing Ruffalo's voice from more Edward Norton inspired character design felt weird.
 

Rick Jones

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It might just be me but the Hulk animation really started reminding me of Armored Adventures as I was watching. That led me to just go through the credits and see which studios worked on what episodes since I hadn't really been paying attention. It looks like Blue Spirit did the first two and Squeeze did this one. It was nice to be reminded that this show actually uses licensed music as well. I don't remember a Marvel animated series doing that outside of Guardians of the Galaxy for a while.

It's been a while since I was genuinely excited for a Marvel cartoon week after week.

I echo that sentiment.

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Magmaster12

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Lake Bell is probably the best replacement they had so far, I thought for sure it was Scar Jo.

Also bringing back Elizabeth Ross and having her interact with Black Widow of all people, that is pretty awkward but it makes me wonder why she never bothered to get back in touch with Bruce.

This is the closest we will get to them remaking Incredible Hulk with Mark Ruffalo.
 
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Gold Guy

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I thought it'd be hard to top the second episode, but this one might do it for me.

Part of it is that I think the Incredible Hulk is one of the most underrated MCU films, and I'm always pretty happy when that film gets referenced, let alone have certain scenes get recreated. I guess this is Betty's first MCU appearance since....2008? Dang.

I think a lot of people don't realize how scary an unleashed Ant-Man can really be. Pretty cool they managed to get Michael Douglas back, too.

Clark Gregg!

Hiddleston always has a lot of fun as Loki. And he finally gets to win. Take that, TVA.
 

reflection01

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So after two uplifting tales we get to what What If? comics were originally about: taking away the safety net and brutally killing off beloved characters. We even get a full-on doomsday scenario where a villain wins.

It's been a while since I was genuinely excited for a Marvel cartoon week after week.

Been since Earth’s Mightest Heroes for me.

Good episode. It’s nice to see a different take in the third episode. The mystery was a nice touch. This episode certainly lended itself to a follow-up especially given what we saw in the What If? trailers. At the very least, I’d love to see Carol vs. Loki.


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RoyalRubble

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Check out another episode of What If...?. The Watcher is watching.
whatif_card.jpg

Marvel's What If...?
Season 1, Episode 4
- What If Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?
Episode Debut
- September 1, 2021

Comments?

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Additionally, please use Spoiler Tags if you wish to discuss the events of an episode in other threads outside this Talkback for the first 7 days after its premiere (i.e., as soon as a new episode debuts, Spoiler Tags for the previous episode aren't mandatory any longer).
 

Yojimbo

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Ah, so the real change is Christine going to the party with Strange that led to the accident and she dies.

That was pretty neat that they changed it to O-Bengh in the MCU is a totally separate character from Cagliostro. In the comics, I think O-Bengh was rumored to be his original name but never confirmed. But this story does sort of parallel how he ended up teaching magic to a time traveler although in that case, it was Dr. Doom.

Was that the same champion Red Skull summoned in episode 1?

I agree that was a cool way that the 'fourth wall' can be broken and Uatu can interact with characters in an episode.
 

Freddy

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This episode had some nifty animation (especially on all the dark creatures Strange summoned and absorbed) and I do give it credit for having the first downright downer ending, but I can't help, but to nitpick one detail and it is kinda an important one in a series where the whole premise is that a smallest of changes can make everything go down differently. If Christine dies before Strange becomes a sorcerer, then who was there to keep his mortal body alive, while he fought Kaecilius' goons on the astral plane?
 
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Neo Ultra Mike

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"What If... Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead Of His Hands?" - So with this episode, What If has covered every single MCU movie series in some form. Granted due to last week being a mix of a bunch of them including quick cameos we've only scratched the series on stuff like Hulk, Thor, Ant Man, Captain Marvel and others but yeah now all of them have in fact been covered. Though this is the first where the actual focal point of the franchise is featured that doesn't mix really with any other franchise. As well as the first to actually have someone interact with The Watcher, and the first to have a definite dark no hope at all ending, and the first to really work on an emotional level... which makes the humor honestly even more out of place.

I will admit the jokes in this one weren't quite as kind of cringe as last week as even stuff like Strange asking O'Benge/Caligistro where the library was and trying to bargain with that squid creature at least felt like bits that Strange would make especially based on his smarm in his first movie but still did kind of take me out of the moment. Same with Strange pointing out to the ancient one spirit she'd only appear if it was the end of the world or Wong questioning Strange fighting himself. Honestly IMHO the only sort of actual comedy we should of really gotten with this is the stuff between Steven and Christine as them flirting in the beginning and being an earnest couple sells the drama later. But once Strange was actually on his quest to get her back especially with how this one ended there really shouldn't of been any jokes. I also don't think the whole "Strange being split between two people" shouldn't of been so spelt out to have the Ancient One actually show that flashback as you do get it without it and what regular Strange mission is against his dark doppleganger but honestly those are the biggest nitpicks I have against this one as honestly the rest is really focused, really interesting and does really work for a one shot What If.

Now typically "fridging" a character is seen as an obnoxious tool but quite honestly it works with this story. Since yeah this isn't what happens in the prime universe but an off shoot where the story is all about Strange being unable to let go of his grief and desperation to get Christine back and in the end it ultimately not working and what results in that. Which I am glad this one was a slightly longer one to actually really build that emotion well. I criticized some of the other what ifs for them failing to capture the drama. Peggy Carter still tried to have a connection with her and Steve but there was too much time dedicated to following the first avenger plot to really care about that; Starlord T'Challa tried to have this thing about his people but there was too much time with the heist to really care about that. I don't have a problem with What If focusing on emotion and drama but it has to actually do that. Thus why it was important not only to see where Dark Strange could come from but to connect his plight to see the two happy as a couple (as obviously Strange asking her to go with him and actually caring was the big change here) that her death would be this catalyst. But to also spend a lot of time instead of just showing the events of the movie (just having that be a minute with the only focus being on the time travel for later) but to show a montage of him actually failing to save her again and again no matter what he tried be it being careful driving along the road to just ordering out to having her drive to even just ditching her and Christine still constantly dying. It's kind of taking the scene of Strange being killed over and over again by Dormanau but showing now this being flipped on himself as his struggles to save her and breaking down "why can't we just be happy" actually do really hit once you have that.

And though the comedy again wasn't the best I like how Strange goes on another trip to learn this dark magic thanks to Calgistro and is beyond just bargaining but rather constantly taking the power of these creatuers to turn himself. In the trailers the idea of a dark Dr. Strange though cool seemed kind of hollow because just seemed like a "well something probably possessed him" but no him having this goal of saving the one he loved and wanting to reverse something impossible does have this tragedy to it. And I have to say one of the big advantages of animation is getting to see a full on wizards's fight of the two going up against one another without having to worry about replacing CG models or whatever. Using the teleportation and tendrils and magic blocking and those far shots of the two capes going at it and how dark dr. strange destroyed Strange's original and got him through his shadow were awesome cool moments. Leading to what really cements this episode so well; actually having the chaoonies to have this very dark and bad ending of Strange killing the universe and seeing Christine come back horrified and still dying and desperately pleading to The Watcher to interfere. I like too how we actually did here the Watcher previously in the episode talk about whether her should but knew it was more important for the structure of other worlds so Strange trying to talk to him now means a lot more especially him throwing back the "you of all people should know what happens when you interfere in things you shouldn't". Like as much as I dislike the idea of powerful beings being forced to sit out something they can easily solve if you give a reason why they would do so I can get on board with that. Like the Eternals Trailer showing the eternals didn't interfere because likely the Celestials stopping them if that's explained well that's all I need but actually showing the case and showing the universe destroyed with only a crying Strange howling in agony really worked. I admit at some points especially in the jokes Cumberbatch wasn't really selling me here but when he hit for the drama same with Rachel McAdams it really worked because yeah if you couldn't get behind Strange's plight in this episode it would be a failure. But the fact you could and seeing it end so tragically does make it hit so hard. And props to for Benedict Wong and Tilda Swinton for coming back even if they were more warning/exposition it does make the experience feel more genuine having all of the original cast come back for this one.

So yeah good episode. Closer to great and would be really great if some jokes were cut out but I really appreciate the dark twisted emotion nature of this one and them just having a full on bad ending. yeah may not be a world we really see again (or only see cameo again on this show) but it still works for the story that was told. WandaVision probably tells a better overall story of someone dealing with grief and trauma because it's an arc about getting more over it instead of being lost in it but I think showing someone so torn up and how it dooms them and their world is an important story and glad it was given the time and focus needed to work on that level. I'm fine if other What Ifs are more light and jokey just have that be the focus though and if a story is more serious let the seriousness play out more especially as these ones only have a limited amount of time for entry and all.
 

Frontier

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Who knew the best decision Christine Palmer ever made was breaking up with Stephen Strange? It saved them both a lot of heartache :sweat:.

Am I mis-remembering or was Benedict Cumberbatch reported to not be back for this? I thought it was a solid impersonator for the whole episode up until the credits. I guess it would be kind of weird if they got back everybody save for the lead star himself o_O.

So instead of losing his hands from working while driving, Stephen Strange's life spirals out of control because of a simple traffic accident...Sometimes life just isn't easy :(.

"Now this is my favorite shirt!" Probably the most explicitly sexual scene in the MCU since Peter Quill talked about the Jackson Pollock painting in the Milano in Guardians 1. Heck, fantasy Christine is shown wearing nothing but that shirt :p.

It's kind of interesting that despite the divergence, Strange still ends up fulfilling his role in his first solo movie exactly down to defeating Dormammu (who actually looked trippier in animation than he did in the movie, in my opinion). But while the main Stephen could live with not having his hands restored, this Strange couldn't let Christine's death go :sad:.

Does Stephen and Christine's relationship seem deeper here than it did in the movie? I guess in the context of this universe they never broke up and were much more in love, while in the movies their breakup and Stephen focusing entirely on his work made it more complicated. To be honest I feel like this could have been resolved if only Strange had met Clea earlier :shrug:.

It's kind of funny to me that they've made so many changes to Wong so he's not manservant Wong from the comics but he still practically lives with Stephen, talks to him, makes coffee, and adds personal motivation for Stephen to do stuff just like comic Wong :rolleyes2:.

Jeez, this universe really wants Christine dead in increasingly exaggerated way. I was reminded a lot of Steins;Gate and Yu-No, along with that episode of Arrow where Quentin Lance keeps dying in a time loop :ack:.

Oh hey, a Christine Everhart cameo! They even got Leslie Bibb back! I totally missed that before I saw the credits :).

It felt like there was a lot more to O-Bengh than what we saw in this episode. I thought for a second Ike Amadi might be filling in as Mordo, and I think he would've done a good job ;).

It's kind of surreal to see the Ancient One doing that thing the Ancient One does of appearing to Strange from beyond the grave before she actually does it in the movies...

They really made good use of the animation medium to depict all the Supernatural creatures Strange kept absorbing and morphing into. And a tentacle monster, because I guess that keeps being a thing in What If. That Raven reminded me of Raven's soul self from Teen Titans. Of course Strange couldn't resist having his own evil cloak :evil:.

We see for the first time where Uatu actually considers intervening, but decides against it, and with Strange's newfound power he can actually see The Watcher. We even see Uatu's physical form for the first time. I assume this is likely building up to the point, probably in the season finale, where Uatu does commit to intervening to save the Multiverse :).

Things get trippier when the Ancient One uses a split version of Strange who didn't go back in time to try and stop Demon Strange, and we get as close as I guess we're going to get to a battle between the normal Dr. Strange and Demon Strange as magic contends against demons. I wonder if the Strange from the main universe would've actually won :oops:?

Even after seeing through the Christine illusion, Good!Strange is defeated and Demon Strange brings Christine back to life...which rings hollow when she sees what he's become and dies anyway with the rest of the world as Demon Strange is left alone in a reality marble unable to fix everything he destroyed. That got pretty darn dark :eek:.
 

Rick Jones

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"Now this is my favorite shirt!" Probably the most explicitly sexual scene in the MCU since Peter Quill talked about the Jackson Pollock painting in the Milano in Guardians 1. Heck, fantasy Christine is shown wearing nothing but that shirt :p.


Oh hey, a Christine Everhart cameo! They even got Leslie Bibb back! I totally missed that before I saw the credits :).
:.
You just reminded me that the pink alien girl Peter forgot about was wearing his shirt as well. Ms. Everhart and Tony's situation also.


I tried to avoid the credited names at the beginning but saw Leslie Bibb. I wondered what she would be doing in the episode. It's cool to see that they got her back, if only for a quick news report. I can't imagine that they would get her and not have tried to get everyone they could for the show.






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Gold Guy

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Wow, what an intense episode. I didn't think the ending would be that bleak.

Gotta give credit to the animation here, we got some really cool and bizarre imagery, but it makes sense considering which film they were diverging from. I also think Cumberbatch's voice performance was genuinely really good here, especially when he had to voice both of his characters in the same scene.
 

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