Thursday, September 16, 2021

‘What If…?’ Episode 3 Review: A Classic Avengers Whodunnit Stuns as the Series Continues to Pick Up Speed

Marvel’s What If…? is continuing its upward trend this week. After a disappointing premiere, last week brought an adventure with a heart as T’Challa took the main stage. This week, however, the episode’s altering event wasn’t as easy as a character swap.

An Avengers murder mystery led to the strongest episode of the series so far. Where episode 1 lost me, episode 2 brought me back in, and now episode 3 has sealed the deal.

This week continued to prove that animation is hands down the best medium for this series. The action sequences require the level of freedom that animation grants them. The facial designs for the characters are incredibly detailed. Every small facet was designed flawlessly, with things like facial hair shadows being included. On the same note, sometimes women in animation can be pigeonholed into a certain stereotypical appearance, but this series thus far has maintained Marvel’s updated design to avoid the sexualization of their female characters. This continued this week as Black Widow took center stage with Nick Fury.

Marvel Studios

Spoilers for episode 3 of What If…? ahead!

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This week’s episode took a much darker turn. The Avengers, before they’re the Avengers, are being hunted down by an unknown entity who is killing these super-powered beings with ease. Fury and Black Widow race against the clock as they realize the Avengers Initiative recruits are under attack. Then, they get some help from an unlikely ally — Loki.

This was the best of the series’ opening three episodes. The element of mystery and the absolute off-the-rails plot was thrilling from the opening scene with Tony Stark to the end with the two Captains teaming up as the only remaining Avengers left. This episode is exactly what I was expecting from the series and is more in line with the comics.

Episode 3 also managed to settle an ongoing debate within the MCU. Yes, The Incredible Hulk is canon. While not much of that film stuck going forward, including the actor playing Bruce Banner, this episode confirmed that the film is still very much a product of the MCU.

One detail about this series that I love so far is the Watcher’s presence in the background of some of the stunning wider shots. It’s such a great touch that it would be an incredible live-action Easter egg going forward as the films and upcoming series’ branch into the Multiverse.

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A lot of chatter before this episode had the plot centered around Loki’s takeover of Earth, and I personally loved the subtlety of the truth of that statement. While the story was centered around the loss of Earth’s mightiest heroes and their demise at the hands of Hank Pym, the endgame was Loki finally getting to rule over Earth. I loved this as an alternative to Loki muscling his way to the metaphorical throne. It was an entire mind game — Loki’s specialty — and watching him jump at the opportunity presented before him to achieve his end was far more in character.

This is how Loki wins the battle of New York, with it never happening in the first place. However, on par with Mobius’ description of Loki from the Loki series, a lot of pain and suffering occurred during Loki’s rise to power.

While Loki may have gotten the last laugh, Fury is certainly not giving up. The final scene with him finding Steve Rogers in the ice and Carol Danvers answering his beeper call was the perfect ending to this episode. And it made me want to see the outcome of these events more so than either episode before it had done. If I had one complaint, it’s that I wish it were longer!

Also, as it turns out, Phil Coulson has the same password … #SteveSteveSteveIHeartSteve704!

Don’t miss next week’s episode exclusively on Disney+. The plot of that one is still unknown, but rumor has it next week might center around our favorite Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange.

Stay tuned for our weekly coverage on What If…?.

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Kaity
Kaity started with Harry Potter in second grade and it’s been a losing battle ever since, or maybe a winning one ... She lives in New England with a small herd of cats, two dogs, three chinchillas, and one daughter. Her main fandoms are Marvel, The Umbrella Academy, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings, with special emphasis on one vibranium shield-wielding Super Soldier. Contact: kaity@nerdsandbeyond.com

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