What If: The Watcher Broke His Oath?

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Uatu, voice by Jeffery Wright, assembles the Guardians of the Multiverse to fight back against Ultron.

This was a good episode, but it wasn’t as good as the previous week’s episode and that is the crux of why I feel disappointed.

There was infinite possibilities for what they could have done here, but the no new characters rule again hamstrings the series. Instead of new characters and abilities we get the same old same old, Thor, voiced by Chris Hemsworth, using his hammer, Gamora, voiced by Cynthia McWilliams, using a sword, etc- we have seen that before. The only interesting part of the battle was seeing the various monstrosities that evil Dr Strange, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, could summon out of him.

I thought the ending had promise, though was also a little bit sloppy. The ending sees the evil Dr Strange holding the warring factions in a pocket dimension never to be allowed out, they will obviously escape. I just think they could have done so much more with it, with Zola and Ultron and maybe a combination of the two, but no.

I liked that this episode brought back a lot of characters from most of the episodes of the show and helped it feel connected together, rather than just a series of one-offs.

Overall, a strong ending but not as good as the penultimate episode.

Pros.

Assembling a new team

The animation

The promise of what the ending brings

Cons.

The ending feels a bit too easy

It would have been nice to see some new characters feature

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What If: Ultron Won?

4.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Ultron, voiced by Ross Marquand, is not defeated and has achieved his aim in removing life from the universe, now he has his sights set on the multiverse.

This was what I wanted from What If right from the beginning. Finally, after almost the entire season the show gets me to stand up and take notice. Why? Well for two important reasons. Firstly, this episode fixed one of my biggest issues with the show as a whole namely that Uatu, voiced by Jeffery Wright, is barely a character and has no purpose beyond reading out exposition. Here he had a central role, and we explored his character further. Secondly, this episode also bucks the trend of keeping things self-contained and brings in characters from other episodes.

I am very excited to see where the show can go from here because with it now becoming a whole narrative rather than separate individual tales it means we could see a new team arise in the final episode, a defenders of the multiverse perhaps; that will of course carry over to live action.

Furthermore, I think this episode does justice to Ultron. The threat is very present here and Ultron becomes a rival to Uatu himself which highlights just how powerful and intriguing the character can be when Joss Whedon is not writing him.

Overall, a stellar episode and one which has me excited for what is to come next week.

Pros.

Getting Ultron right

Having characters crossover

The ending

Giving Uatu focus and exploration

A strong sense of threat

Cons.

The human story was less interesting and felt like a distraction

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What If: Thor Were An Only Child

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Thor, Chris Hemsworth, comes to Earth to party.

This was a very watchable episode of What If, it was by no means the best, but it had its moments. I found this to be the funniest of all the episodes so far and it made me laugh quite a few times, Jane Foster, Natalie Portman, and Darcy Lewis, Kat Dennings have all the best lines.

Moreover, I enjoyed the back and forth battle scenes between Thor and Captain Marvel, Alexandra Daniels, they were very reminiscent of Tom and Jerry or Looney Tunes and had a good escalation. I found Captain Marvel to again be too self-righteous and dower to be any real fun, the only time I found her character amusing was during the final scene when she has the joke about helping Thor study. The MCU really needs to go out of its way to make the Captain Marvel character more fun and likeable because right now she is a buzzkill, though maybe that was the point of the episode.

I did not like the ending and I felt like it came out of nowhere, indeed having Ultron show up with a completed infinity gauntlet simply to end the episode seems like a silly and needless decision, they could have just ended it neatly at the wrap up of the party sequence.

Overall, a fun episode but not one without its fair share of issues.

Pros.

Thor

The comedy

It’s fun

Cons.

The ending

Captain Marvel

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What If: Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

In this what if scenario Tony Stark is not taken prisoner by the Ten Rings and is instead rescued by Killmonger and becomes a pawn in the latter’s quest for revenge.

I feel like this episode really shows just how much the premise of this show hamstrings it. This is not always the case as some episodes veer off in very different directions such as the Evil Doctor Strange or Marvel Zombies one, but in the case of this episode having to tie into the films and the preestablished cannon really becomes a problem. We see moments from several different MCU films but rather than feel like its own thing this episode just feels as though it is trying to recreate those moments just slightly differently. Originality seems in short supply on this one.

Moreover, none of the characters are advanced in any meaningful way by this changed timeline which seems like a huge missed opportunity. In the Doctor Strange centric episode the idea is what if the hero turned into a villain, here we have a Killmonger that has an entirely different plan and is far more successful than he was in the main timeline MCU and a Tony Stark who didn’t have to escape his captors and become Iron Man. There is a lot this episode could have done with that set up, yet the characters are exactly like how they are in the MCU anyway with very little personality difference.

Overall, this episode really highlighted the confines of the show.

Pros.

The battle scenes

It is watchable

Cons.

The character progression is nonexistent

It sticks to the films too much

It is limiting

The ending again feels too early  

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What If: Zombies?

4.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

This was easily the best episode yet. I say that both in terms of the concept and execution. I think many of the other episodes, not all but a large amount, have felt too similar usually because they try and adapt certain MCU films, however this feels entirely different and all the better for it.

I am a huge fan of Robert Kirkman’s Marvel Zombies run and I have been waiting for them to adapt it.  This episode does justice to that storyline through and through and does not shy away from pulling some narly twists and reveals. I thought the Wanda reveal was especially good in this regard and I am surprised Disney allowed them to do it.

Moreover, I felt like this episode gave some much needed screen time to some of the smaller characters in the MCU. For all the focus Bruce Banner and Peter Parker get Hope Van Dyne also gets her moment in the sun. Hope has felt like a relatively separate MCU character confined to the Antman films and not given much to do outside of them, yet here she is leading the team and we get to see her interact with the other Avengers which makes for a number of heart-warming and emotional scenes. In that same regard I am glad we got to see more from Sharon Carter in this episode as well. The wider universe does not seem to know what to do with her character having her be a love interest in Winter Soldier and having her be a sub-villain in FTWS. Here they get her right however she is a badass spy and that is all she needs to be.

My only complaint would be that the episode feels too short and cuts off leaving us wanting more. Hopefully season two will come back to this universe.

Overall, the best episode yet.

Pros.

Marvel Zombies

The emotion

The darkness

Highlighting secondary, often forgotten about, characters

The fight scenes and tension

Cons.

We needed more  

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What If: Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead Of His Hands

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Stephen Strange, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, goes on a hunt for answers after the death of his love Christina Palmer, voiced by Rachel McAdams, and what starts out with good intentions quickly morphs into something perverse.

I think this was a very high calibre episode, certainly up there with the murder mystery one and Captain Carter; maybe better. What I think this episode does so well is that it tells a very personal story but incorporates a lot of big themes and concepts into it, so as we focus our attention souly on the life and loves of Stephen Strange the MCU is also expanding all around us.

Another thing I enjoyed about this episode was that it finally gave Jeffery Wright’s Uatu something to do. I understand he is a Watcher and is forbidden to get involved with the events he sees, but they could at least give him something. Other than the narration each episode and maybe a shot of him watching he is basically absent from the show. This is rectified here as Uatu shows up during the events of the episode and talks to Strange as the episode ends, it finally gives him an active role.

Moreover, I also enjoyed the further exploration of the magical side of the MCU, and I thought the conjuring/consumption scenes during the episode were intriguing, especially as it pertains to the supernatural within the MCU, maybe Mephisto can appear yet.

My one complaint of the episode would be that it ends on rather a down note and that it leaves you feeling depressed, but I suppose that was the point.

Overall, a deeply personal look into the mystical side of the MCU

Pros.

Expanding the mystical side of the MCU

Making Doctor Strange feel more human

The emotion

Finally giving Uatu something to do

Cons.

The ending is depressing

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What If: The World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Someone is killing off Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, what would a world look like where the Avengers never formed?

The concept of this is far more interesting than the previous Star Lord episode, that is already a point in its favour as far as I am concerned.

I thought it was a little awkward how Black Widow centric this episode is considering what is going on with Scarlett Johansson and Disney in the real world, however she is not voiced by Johannsson here. I thought the mystery was actually quite well done and surprising, and much like the first episode this is a reality I would like to explore again in later seasons of the show.

The one thing I would say about this episode in a negative light is that it is the first time within the show were I have thought how limiting the ‘no new characters’ rule is. Can you imagine the finale of this episode whereby Nick Fury stands with a whole different team of Avengers to defeat Loki, maybe with some faces we have not even met yet, personally I think it would have been a hugely exciting moment.

That aside I think this is a fairly strong episode, I enjoyed the voice cast and thought everyone seemed to be having fun especially Lake Bell as Black Widow and Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson.

Overall, fun and with a dense premise rich for further exploration.

Pros.

The mystery

Bringing back scenes from The Incredible Hulk

The ending

Coulson and Black Widow

Cons.

They should have used the death of the Avengers as a spring board to introduce some new characters.   

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The Incredible Hulk: The Black Sheep Of The MCU

2.5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Bruce Banner, Edward Norton, is on a quest to calm the beast inside whilst being perused by the US government who is keen to experiment on him.

Yes, I finally got around to watching this.

For many it is a toss up between this film and Thor The Dark World for worst film in the MCU, with some even going so far as to want this be made noncanonical and though I think that is a slight over reaction I can see where they are coming from.

Now though this film is not terrible, it is also by no means good. It lacks a lot of the things that make a Marvel film good, the heart, the likeable characters, the cameos. These missing elements are only made worse by the fact the every time the Hulk is on-screen you are horrified by how poor the effects look.

It is not the worst film I have ever seen and there are even moments where the film is watchable, but these are too few and far between. I liked seeing Hulk on the run, but then we just get bombarded with scene after lifeless scene of Hulk fighting generic army tropes throughout the film and it doesn’t get any more interesting if anything it goes the other way.

Overall, a lesser quality to what came before and after.

Pros.

It is watchable

The fight Hulk fight scene is interesting and cool and then after that it all just becomes more of the same

Cons.

It is boring

None of the characters are hugely likeable

Plot holes on top of plot holes

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The Suicide Squad: Rats Save The Day

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Taskforce X are back with another suicide mission to shave some time off their prison sentences, this time looking to destroy a research project being conducted by a non US friendly Southern American Country.

Some out there on the internet are trying to create a moral outcry about this film, whilst others are loving it, so, where do I fall? Closer to the latter but with notes.

Firstly and lets just get this out of the way, this is not a family film, this is not a film you can watch at a family party or all gathered round the TV; the age rating really should have given that away. Many people online seem shocked by what they are hearing about the content in this film, and clearly they have never red a Suicide Squad comic book in their lives.

Yes, this film is very true to the comics featuring all the death, gore and general unpleasantness that you would expect. However, in my mind it does go too far but only in one respect: that is of course the birds. This film does not like birds, in the opening scene we see one mashed with a ball and then later on we see a bunch of them set on fire, now obviously this is all fake, but still as someone who likes animals this was a little uncomfortable to watch and I felt like the film lingered on it for a bit too long each time.

In terms of characters Daniela Melchior as Ratcatcher 2 was my favourite, I thought she perfectly embodied the hopeful silliness of the film down to the bone. Moreover, I liked the relationship between her and Idris Elba’s Bloodsport. I thought the surrogate father daughter dynamic worked well and helped to push both of their character arcs along nicely. Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is better here, and less obnoxiously all over the place as she was in Birds Of Prey, I do think Harley works best as part of a team, rather than being the centre of basically a solo film.

Overall, a good film and certainly one of DC’s best, it would have been getting five from me if it weren’t for the birds; but that is a personal thing to me.

Pros.

Melchior

The jokes

The character moments/ growth

The violence

Cons.

I don’t like seeing a bird mushed by a ball and then having the shot linger on it

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Loki: For All Time, Always

4.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Loki and Sylvie meet the man in the castle and learn a lot about the multiverse. Meanwhile Mobius and other rogue TVA agents bring down the organisation that has proven to be a lie to them.

I called this a while ago, though Wandavison was being billed as the project that would effectively bring on the Multiverse of Madness, I had guessed that in fact it would be Loki– I was right.

I think this could be the best episode of the series, it delivers on nearly every front. The only reason I didn’t give it full marks is because I thought the TVA resolution with Owen Wilson’s Mobius was a little weak and that Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s Renslayer also gets short-changed by the episode: I would assume both of these things will be made up for by a later movie or TV show, but I was hoping we could have got that here. Really the episode could have done with being about half an hour longer.  

However, on the other side of things the Loki Sylvie plot line totally delivers. We get Kang, played wonderfully by Jonathan Majors or at least a multiverse version of the character and the promise of far more to come. Though this section of the episode is a little exposition heavy, I did find it all interesting as it sets up the next few years of the MCU, if not beyond that as well.

The ending of the Loki Sylvie romance is as heart-breaking as I was expecting it to be, but luckily neither of them died so it can be continued in future. I thought both Hiddleston and Di Martino gave very strong performances here that really resonated. I hope we get to see far more of Di Martino going forward in the MCU.

Finally, I wanted to mention the end tease wherein Loki finds himself in another dimension one that has already been conquered by Kang and say that I am very excited for season two I think the show is heading in a very interesting direction.

Overall one of the best episodes of a Marvel Disney + show to date.

Pros.

Kang

The multiverse

The ending tease

Sylvie and Loki

Cons.

Mobius and Renslayer

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