The Best Moments of Marvel’s What If…?
Over the course of nine episodes, Marvel’s What If…? managed to shock, thrill, and inspire us, as well as provide a healthy mix of laughter and tears. The stories were ambitious in scope and varied in their tone — week to week, audiences were kept on their toes whether they would be shedding tears of joy or sorrow alongside their favorite characters.
Now that the first season of What If…? has reached its end, we can look back on some of the best moments from the Disney+ series.
The Web Slinger’s Speech
For the first time in our on-screen representations of Peter Parker, he has really felt like a teenager in the MCU. Peter has that childlike sense of wonder being around his super hero idols and his endless pop culture references strike just the right note of the quick wit that he’s known for.
So in episode 5, when we see Peter becoming a capable leader of the team as Zombie Hunter Spidey, it’s a really special moment. He and his fellow Avengers have had to face zombified versions of their friends and allies, such as a Zombie Cap and even a Zombie Happy, but Peter rises to the occasion just when the team is about to lose hope (no, not that Hope). It almost feels like we’ve watched Peter grow up into a fully realized hero right in front of us, and his battle speech aboard the train could rival any that Captain America has given to the team.
Peggy’s Fight Montage
The inaugural episode of What If…? introduced us to the concept of one moment changing the very fabric of a universe. Despite her courage and capability, Peggy Carter is severely underestimated. After she volunteers to take the Super Soldier Serum in place of the wounded Steve, Captain Carter proves she deserves not only to be in the room, but to be at the front of the room giving orders!
Every Captain Carter fight montage in this episode is epic, but one that especially stands out is when Peggy is finally recognized as a hero. With a lively jazz standard playing in the background, the montage features clear visual inspiration from the comics themselves as Peggy takes charge!
While Okoye has always delivered her lines with a certain shady wit, her sense of humor really shines in episode 5. On the way to Grand Central Station, she calls Happy an Uber driver, which flusters him to no end. Then, she defies horror movie expectations by giving the order to split up. When Peter questions her decision and asks whether they have horror movies in Wakanda, she fires back that Wakanda doesn’t need them when they have American reality television.
Stephen’s Silent Night
The What If…? series showed audiences the profound tragedies that can befall the characters we enjoy so much. Up to this point, most Marvel super hero shows and films had wrapped up with a clean ending, good triumphing over evil, our favorites saving the day. But with episode four, all that came to a screeching halt.
Sure, the previous two episodes had teased a new big baddie but there was also the promise of a hero to keep us safe. Not so with “What If… Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?” In this story, we witness the utter failure of a hero and the magnitude of one mistake. Soft piano and Stephen’s desperate pleas are no use. His universe is gone. The closing shot of a dead universe’s blank void creeping in on Doctor Strange is a haunting sight viewers won’t soon forget.
Coulson’s Thor Comments
We’ve all thought it. As he swings that hammer and arrives in blazing, thunderous glory, Thor is pretty impressive and, not to mention, easy on the eyes. But to hear those opinions voiced by Agent Phil Coulson, who is usually flanked by the completely serious faces of Nick Fury and Maria Hill, we couldn’t help but laugh. In an especially dark episode, Coulson’s comments like, “He’s gorgeous,” were a welcome reprieve from the shock of seeing the original Avengers fall one by one.
Episode 2 of What If…? challenged our views of many characters by inverting our expectations of them. Thanos became a dad trying to make amends, Nebula is a flirty, carefree agent, and the Collector is a feared galactic crime lord. The characterization in this episode is remarkable in the way it shows the key traits of such familiar figures in completely new ways.
One character, however, ascends from a minor role in previous appearances to a central figure in Star-Lord T’Challa’s success. Carina is a servant of the Collector who rises up against her captor because she is inspired by T’Challa. Without Carina, T’Challa might not have escaped the Collector’s grasp but in this story she defies her cage and breaks him free.
Shuri’s Visit with Pepper
At the end of episode 6, when it seems as if Wakanda might fall under Erik Killmonger’s dangerous influence, Shuri reminds us that cooler heads always prevail. From the start of the episode, she was suspicious of Erik and once he reveals his true intentions, Shuri takes matters into her own hands to avenger her brother. She surprises Pepper Potts with a visit to her office and proof of Erik’s treachery, reminding Pepper that Tony’s not the only genius around here.
Thanos’ Splitting Headache
Since the beginning, Thanos has been teased and revealed to be the Avengers’ biggest threat. He orchestrated a universal genocide without a second thought and stopped at nothing to realize his vision. Even the mightiest of the Avengers were unable to defeat him on their own. Yet in episode 8, Ultron, empowered by the Vision’s synthezoid body and superior interface, slices him in half like a piece of bread. Thanos meets his end quicker than the snap of a finger.
All throughout the series, What If…? managed to give viewers a sense of closure with Chadwick Boseman, as this was his last work as T’Challa. His turn as a Star-Lord in episode 2 created a new version of T’Challa that was wildly different yet warmly the same, all at once. This T’Challa could let loose a bit more, as he was unrestrained by the responsibilities of royalty, but he also held fast to his pure-hearted ideals and genuine kindness. With Star-Lord T’Challa, we saw a universe in which his positive influence created true harmony.
But the most touching tribute to Chadwick and his beloved version of the Black Panther was when Queen Ramonda cried out, “For T’Challa,” during battle with the Liberator drones. Yibambe!
With such a wide variety of events and interactions, drawing from the infinite universes, the list above is by no means exhaustive. Honorable mentions include Natasha standing up to the Watcher, Nebula calling T’Challa “Cha Cha,” Peter’s entire zombie survival guide (including that Bucky shower scene), and Darcy’s questionable Las Vegas romance with Howard the Duck.
From one watcher to another, these are just a few highlights that exist along an ever-shifting spectrum of noteworthy multiverse moments. Which moments of What If…? were your favorites? Who should return or appear in a season two? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!