The third episode of Marvel’s What…If? titled ‘What If… the World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?’ shows us a much bigger rippling effect throughout the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, and how one change of events in the timeline can affect everything. This episode is a Knives Out-like murder mystery featuring the original members of 2012’s The Avengers, who are picked off by a serial killer killer. This is not only awe-inspiring but also a great nostalgia trip to the early movies of the MCU.
This episode truly felt like a Nick Fury episode more so than an Avengers-centric one. The head of S.H.I.E.L.D has his plans ruined when a killer picks off Fury’s Avengers even before they can come together. We see Fury as a great leader and a brilliant tactician in his interactions with Loki and Yellowjacket in this episode, which also served as a great callback to Captain Marvel. We find out that Fury could have contacted Carol Danvers at any time if he didn’t have the Avengers by his side. Black Widow also got most of the spotlight this week; the episode makes better use of Natasha Romanoff than her own standalone movie. It’s a shame that we didn’t see Black Widow become more of an investigative spy in live action.
The absolute best part of this episode is how it ties in a bunch of MCU movies into a single premise. Previous episodes were alternative takes on a single movie or two, but the third episode had audiences “revisiting” Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and even Ant-Man. Seeing scenes from The Incredible Hulk as well as Mark Ruffalo’s version of Bruce Banner interacting with Betty Ross was a great callback to this forgotten MCU movie. It was also a punch to the gut to see the Hulk getting blown apart from the inside out.
This entire episode definitely left things hanging, with so many more possibilities to be explored. Could Captain Marvel have defeated Loki and reclaim the Earth, which has been subjugated by the God of Mischief? Who is left to join the Avengers after this? Here’s hoping we get some sort of sequel to this episode in the second season. As mentioned, this episode made better use of Black Widow than in her own solo movie, which really is a shame as we are never going to see the Black Widow ever again, unless she turns up in future episodes of What If…?
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