What If? – Season #2

The first social media post I saw about the new season of What If? said that it was much worse than season 1. The second one said it was much better. Needless to say, the truth is somewhat in between.

There are a few one-offs in this season, but also there is an over-arching plot that some people will like and others won’t. There is a strong focus on Peggy Carter, or rather Captain Carter as she is in the What If? Universe. That too will divide viewers. There’s also a thing where Happy Hogan gets Hulk powers, leading to a running gag about “Hulk Hogan”. Seriously? And Stephen Strange is still insane, which I’m sure Benedict Cumberbatch loves, but Strange fans will probably hate.

I found good and bad in the episodes too. Probably the worst was the one in which Tony Stark doesn’t come back to Earth after the Battle of New York, but instead lands on Sakaar where he challenges The Grandmaster to a motor race. This is basically an excuse for a lot of extended Whacky Races sequences (and possibly a bit of Hot Wheels product placement). There’s very little plot.

On the other hand, the story in which Peter Quill is picked up by Ego and ends up attacking Earth in 1988 is wonderful. The star of the show is a very young Hope van Dyne. Captain Carter is charged with putting together a team of heroes to counter the threat, and governments around the world pitch in to help. King T’Chaka comes from Wakanda, for example. If you think that animation can’t compete with live action when it comes to showing emotion, check out the look on Peggy’s face when she sees The Winter Soldier walk off the plane that President Gorbachev has sent.

There is also a very silly episode set in 1602, but Thor is King of England, Wanda is Merlin, and a time travelling Peggy Carter must seek aid from a group of notorious green-clad outlaws.

Possibly the most interesting episode is the one in which the Tesseract falls to Earth in the 16th century and a young Mohawk girl called Kahhori acquires super powers from it. There’s a bit of a cop-out in that North America is being colonized by the Spanish rather than the British, but it is an episode that is guaranteed to trigger the broflakes. Also Kahhori becomes a recurring character. It would be nice to see her get a live action TV series one day.

Overall I enjoyed the season. Marvel clearly like giving their scriptwriters a bit of a holiday in doing this stuff, and if the episodes don’t always come off, well we are repaid for that by those that do.