What If…? Review of Episodes 1-4

What If…? Review of Episodes 1-4

Devin Page

The Marvel Disney+ series What If…? recently came to an end with mixed reviews from fans and critics alike. I would like to discuss my opinion on the show in the span of two articles. I will go into a deep dive about each of the episodes’ plots, and my own opinion of the episode. In this first article, I will talk about episodes one through four and then in the second article, I will discuss episodes five through nine. Just a warning: there will be spoilers ahead for not only the first four episodes but the whole series. Please continue reading with caution.

In episode one What If… Captain Carter was the First Avenger? The Watcher opens the episode talking about the infinite realities that can come from a single choice. We see the original setting of Captain America: The First Avenger and instead of Peggy going up into the booth, she chooses to stay in the room. By staying in the room, Peggy is unable to kill the saboteur on time, Steve gets shot and she finds it necessary to take the serum herself or the project will be lost. As the episode continues, we see Peggy Carter suit her classic uniform with her Britain shield. Steve later on in the episode gains a suit of armor called the HYDRA Stomper which makes the two an iconic duo once again. By the end of the episode, Peggy sacrifices herself to save the world from the tesseract and HYDRA. 

Unlike how many fans reacted to the episode, personally, this is one of my all-time favorites of the series. It felt amazing to watch a powerful woman take the lead as such an iconic character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). I know that many people’s biggest problem with the episode was the fact that it tried too heavily to follow the plot of the movie and didn’t follow the story of the comics. I can understand why this pissed people off, but truly seeing Peggy Carter being such a powerful and loveable woman superhero, just made this worth it to me. I was really impressed with how they put in Bucky, Steve, and Howard as very vital characters, more so than what I thought they were actually going to do in the show. All in all, I love this episode and it made me extremely happy to watch as I was looking forward to this episode.

To continue, episode two, What If… T’Challa Became a Star-Lord? is opened once again by The Watcher “pondering the question What If…?” We see the opening scene of Guardians of the Galaxy, but instead of Peter Quill, we see T’challa. Yondu and T’challa meet up after collecting the infinity stone and talk about “no treasure is worth as much gold as the good can be done with it.” We later get a flashback that shows T’challa asking his father to explore the world. He is then picked up by Yondu and his crew as he was “mistaken for Peter Quill” and is adopted by Yondu. The episode shows The Collector, who became the most powerful person in the universe as “Thanos went straight.” The Ravagers go to The Collector’s collection and defeat him. In the end, The Watcher hints at the possible end of the universe as Ego and Peter Quill are together.

Once again, this is another episode I loved more than anything. It was such a fun interpretation of the Guardians of the Galaxy story and it truly put light onto characters that were typically either hated or loved. One of the best parts of the episode is that at the end, it gave a dedication to T’Challa himself, (Chadwick Boseman). This story warmed my heart in so many ways and is truly one of the best episodes of this series, in my opinion. I have nothing bad to say about this episode as it was funny, interesting, and creative, which makes it so loveable.

In What If… the World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes? the classic first Avenger movie is the setting. Much like in the original movie, we see Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Nick Fury recruiting new people for the project Nick Fury calls “The Avengers.” Instead of the members being recruited we see each of our world’s “mightiest heroes” getting killed one by one. Natasha (Black Widow) supposedly killed Tony Stark and swears she didn’t do anything. Hawkeye kills Thor as he was about to retrieve his hammer. After being arrested, Hawkeye is found dead in his cell as well. Natasha goes to recruit Bruce Banner, and while they are fighting the army, Bruce explodes after becoming the Hulk. Finally, while trying to figure out this mystery, Natasha goes on the hunt for what is possibly the answer to all the deaths that have occurred. She is killed, leaving Fury with only a cryptic message saying “Hope! It’s all about Hope!” A couple of days later, Loki comes to Earth demanding vengeance for the death of his brother. Fury informs him of the situation and the two team up to defeat Pym (the original Ant-Man, whose daughter was Hope). Angry about the death of his daughter, Pym tries to kill Nick Fury but is unable to because it is all illusions by Loki. In the end, Pym is defeated and Nick Fury is still determined to create a team of heroes. He finds Steve Rogers (Captain America) in the ice and uses the pager to bring home Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel).

As much as I want to say I liked this episode, I personally didn’t enjoy it. I felt it was very creative and it absolutely is a new outlook on what the Avengers could have been. Besides that though, it’s hard for me to enjoy this episode because it is heartbreaking watching some of our favorite heroes pass away. The best part of the episode (in my opinion, obviously) was honestly Loki showing up onto Earth and mimicking Nick Fury. Other than that, the episode was just too depressing for my taste and I just could find a big reason to love it. Granted, I do know that some people enjoyed the episode and I know some people like that more dark version of the stories. I just don’t like the darker episodes of the series but I can appreciate why others may have enjoyed this episode.

Marvel Studios

The story of What If… Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands? is one of the best episodes of the series, even if it does make my personal top three episodes. The story begins with Dr. Steven Strange picking up Christine to have her go with him to the award he received. The two are driving down the road, the same road where Dr. Strange got hit and broke his hands. In this story, the car hits the two of them and Christine dies from the impact. In grief, Dr. Strange searches for answers in the mystic arts and becomes the Dr. Strange we know and love today. Using the Eye of Agamoto, Strange realizes he has the opportunity to save Christine by going back in time. History repeats itself over and over until the Ancient One informs Strange that this is a fixed point in time that can not be undone. The Ancient One tries to stop Strange by hitting him but slightly misses, as Strange teleports away to a library where he will find a way to save Christine. By consuming monster after monster, Strange becomes more and more powerful but realizes there is another Strange in the same timeline. This Strange never went back in time in hopes to save Christine. “Evil” Strange tries to convince “good” Strange that they must become one to save Christine. “Good” Strange refuses but loses the fight, and as Christine comes back to life the world is slowly destroyed. Dr. Strange acknowledges The Water and begs for help and forgiveness. The Watcher declines to intervene and Dr. Strange is left alone in a prism of reality he made for himself, to live alone forever.

Now, this episode I honestly truly loved. When I first watched it I was pretty indifferent, but when I watched it again and I finished the series I fell in love with the episode. From the metaphor in the title of the episode to Dr. Strange knowing of The Watcher’s presence, the episode is just amazing. What I love so much about it is probably the fact that even though it is a darker episode and it doesn’t end too happily, there is just so much emotion and understanding for Dr. Strange that makes him and this story lovable. This is one of those episodes that almost made my boyfriend cry, (which if you knew him, that would be SUPER surprising). I was so happy watching this episode over again especially after watching the rest of the series and seeing the importance that this episode has on the rest of the show.

This concludes the first half of my review on the What If…? series on Disney+. Overall, the only episode of this bunch that I didn’t like was What If… the World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes? but all other episodes I loved so much. In my next article, I will discuss episodes 5-9, which does have more of the episodes I didn’t love, but still many others I adored. Thank you for reading and please come back to read again.