Updated: Sep 1, 2021
"What If...the World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?"
The third episode of Marvel's What If...? explores an alternate timeline where someone is killing off Fury's recruits for the Avengers Initiative, before the team is even formed.
While a superhero serial killer murder mystery is an interesting premise, it's not as action-packed as previous episodes. Nor does it follow a parallel path to events we are familiar with, although we do revisit some familiar scenes from various MCU movies, but only to set up each Avenger's murder. The Hulk is particularly well-animated and has a spectacularly energetic battle against Gen. Ross's forces, before his unusual and shocking death.
As in the first Avengers movie, Loki arrives on Earth with an army, but this time, it's an Asgardian army and his mission is not conquest, but to collect the body of the slain Odinson and avenge his murder, or else it's war. What follows answers another aspect of the What If? question of this episode: what would Loki do to an Earth that he discovered had no Avengers to defend it? As in many What If? stories, a familiar tale may follow a different path, but often the end result is the same. I leave it to you to see which way this episode goes.
Fury and Natasha/Black Widow realize someone is making it look like she is the hero-killer, and it's up to them to find the real murderer, while Agent Coulson assists, surviving this time as Loki has no reason to kill him. Who would have the motive and ability to kill the Avengers under everyone's noses, in plain sight? The answer is shocking and unexpected, and will not be spoiled here.
Once again, many actors reprise their roles and provide their voices, but it's distracting to hear a voice that's obviously not one of the originals, although Lake Bell does a pretty decent impression of Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow.
The animation is smooth and colorful, and the likenesses of the actors are pretty spot-on. I am liking this style more and more, even though the mouth motions don't always matching the spoken words very well.
There seems to be a purposeful effort to end each What If? episode in a way that sets up a sequel. Perhaps that is the intent, to have follow-up episodes in future seasons?
So far, What If...? is entertaining and fun, especially if you are familiar with MCU history. As The Watcher says: the possibilities are infinite.
Watch a new episode of What If...? every Wednesday through September on Disney Plus.