No Avengers? No problem.
At least that’s what it seems like.
From the moment this third installment in the series gets going it seems to be hell bent on just satisfying its title. “Hey, y’all … what if the world lost its mightiest heroes? “To find the answer, we need look no further than …
… Nick Fury, Agent of Shield. This is, at its heart, a Nick Fury story.
By the 3:10 mark (counting the opening Marvel Studios credit sequence), exit Tony Stark. Agent Natasha Romanov is made to look like the killer. Considering her shady past, that could easily be possible, especially in the minds of everyone in authority, sans Nick Fury.
At the 7:51 mark – Thor is gonzito. Clint Barton is the foil this time as he appears to have done the dirty work, though he denies any involvement. Confusing? A bit. Barton is shipped off to the maximum security SHIELD pokey for safe keeping.
Tick tick tick. When the countdown hits 11:33, Clint Barton is found to be taking a dirt nap. Strange. He’s in a maximum security SHIELD pokey, isn’t he? No one in. No one out. But he’s still dead!
Set your watches … at 17:12, Hulk is toast … actually avocado toast. A horrible metaphorical notion, but really, really apt.
No spoilers here. Not really. The title says it all, after all. Roughly halfway through the show’s runtime of 33 minutes, it has fulfilled its premise. The Big Four – Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, and the Hulk – are so much pickled herring. Others are not on the scene yet or will not be stepping up to the plate. The only common thread is that there is a killer behind all of this, but no one knows who. Black Widow and Nick Fury are working diligently to find out. Clues are about as scarce as hen’s teeth in a haystack.
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It wouldn’t be Marvel without a little humor and this episode doesn’t scrimp. Without ruining the humor, some of which is straightforward and some a bit cringe-worthy. For instance, watch for and compare Agent Coulson’s observation upon seeing Thor for the first time in the flesh and his reaction to the same character as he’s laid out in the morgue. And then there is the very, very clever way that Nick Fury figures out to engage with Loki to help him stop the heretofore unnamed bad guy, and then the surprising turn of events that caps Loki’s involvement. He is, after all, the God of Mischief!
This third episode comes across a bit more flat than the first two in the series.
First, it is a whodunit. While this is not innately bad, it is very different from the first two offerings. Thus said, to be as good as the first two episodes the payoff at the end of the show has to be a jaw dropper. It isn’t. Anyone who is familiar with the other characters in the MCU and their powers might be able to piece this one together and finger the bad guy before the big reveal. Because of that, the only details remaining are tying up the why and the how.
Second, the voiceover talent isn’t given as much opportunity to shine. Stalwarts, such as Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner), Clark Gregg (Phil Coulson), and Michael Douglas (Hank Pym) reprise their MCU roles. Amazingly enough, Frank Grillo even reappears as Brock Rumlow. He must have been in town when the phone rang. While Jackson and Hiddleston help to glue everything together because of their lengthier parts or the brio they bring, others are featured for only moments, thus minimizing their impact. Unfortunately, not having Scarlett Johansson to bring vocal life to Black Widow is also disappointing. Replacement Lake Bell is willing enough, but she’s not the same.
Also, the 3D cell shaded character model of Natasha/Widow is also too flat looking to represent its real life counterpart, especially in close-ups. That’s too bad, because she is another character that is doing the heavy lifting here. Not being able to suspend disbelief when looking at her (see the pic below) or listening to her brings the episode down a skosh.
Lastly, but not leastly, there simply isn’t the emotional depth that should have accompanied the loss of four great heroes – five if you count everyone involved. While there is a small denouement moment, really just a beat, the writers get that over with in short order and its on to finding new cast members to take their places. Sorry you guys had to die, but, hey, there’s a lot more capes and tights hanging in the What If… ? closet.
In this way, perhaps this iteration of What If… ? is just emulating the 24/7 nature of world news. Don’t regret, or repent … just reload.
Marvel’s What If…? is out now on Disney+ with new episodes releasing weekly on Wednesdays.
* Source – YouTube: What If… The World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes – Episode 3 Spoiler Review – Phase 1 LEGO Sets?
** Source – YouTube: What If Episode 3 – What If… The World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes