What If’s first season ended on an immensely satisfying note with the formation of a new team. One that would be a lot of fun to see appear in the live-action Marvel Cinematic Universe as well.
As usual, it’s silly to bet against the MCU at this point. The creative teams know how to make us care about characters, get concerned about a new threat and thrill to them overcoming it. Even if in this case, the characters are from various worlds.
While he battled against Ultron Vision last episode, The Watcher was back to being a spectator this time save for one important element. This time he reached through the Multiverse for the various worlds he’s gazed at recently and called heroes to take down Ultron Vision.
The biggest takeaway was most of those incomplete/cliffhanger episodes actually had some form of payoff. I still wanted to know what happened with Black Panther, Spider-Man and Ant-Man’s head.
Seeing the links and connections to all of the previous episodes made it more glaring that the Gamora spotlight episode where she defeats Thanos and teams with a Sakar-stranded Tony Stark was missing.
It was nice seeing a scene straight from Captain America: The Winter Soldier with Peggy leading SHIELD’s STRIKE team and Natasha trying to set her up with Bernard from accounting. And Georges St-Pierre even turned up to provide the voice for Batroc.
Some of The Watcher’s selection process seemed questionable. Would Party Thor really have been the best version of the thunder god? And why wouldn’t he recruit one version of Captain Marvel? And is there seriously a scenario where Captain America and Iron Man couldn’t have been of use?
- South of Heaven review
- WWE Ultimate Edition Sgt. Slaughter review – SDCC 2021 exclusive
- Hot Toys reveals Venom Let There Be Carnage – Carnage figure
- The Walking Dead – Promises Broken review S11 E7
Still, the team The Watcher recruits — T’Challa Starlord, Captain Carter, Sorcerer Supreme, Killmonger ruler of Wakada, Gamora and Party Thor seemed a formidable crew. And Black Widow from the previous episode joins the squad just in time to face Ultron.
As CGI and superhero fight choreography has vastly improved over the years, we haven’t had to rely on animation for great comic book style fights. That said, this one was spectacular.
The Guardians of the Multiverse battled Ultron on various fronts without seeming sorely overmatched. It helped tremendously that this version of Doctor Strange overindulged in magic and was the most powerful incarnation of an already elite level hero. Strange dumping the zombies from the zombie overrun world was a nice touch. And the face off with Zombie Scarlet Witch was brief, but a fun clash of mega-powered characters.
There was an impressive layer of carnage with all the heroes (and Killmonger) getting a chance to shine. It’s really to bad about Gamora’s episode being cut/delayed as it would have been nice to actually see the Infinity Crusher work once before it didn’t this episode.
Ultimately, it fell on the final recruit to save the day as Natasha used Hawkeye’s virus arrow to takeover Ultron Vision’s body with Arnim Zola’s programming. This worked since Ultron Vision originated on Natasha’s world.
And to further payoff the character’s decision-making, Killmonger seizes the Infinity Stones for himself. This time he offered to make things right for everyone and restore their worlds. Predictably, the heroes don’t want that power and Killmonger prepares to fight them only to get deadlocked by Arnim Zola Vision.
This stalemate had a purpose though as it allowed Sorcerer Strange to keep Killmonger and Zola in suspended animation with the Stones between them. Hopefully never to become a threat again.
I loved how the ending played off the original Avengers with the team going their respective ways in the timestream. Natasha joining the world that lost its Avengers definitely was the right call. Hopefully Season 2 revisits this world and new era Avengers. The post-credit scene was also a nice touch on The Winter Soldier and that clearly needs a follow-up.
And yeah, it was emotional knowing that this episode marked the final time we’d see/hear Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa. At least his final performance was on another high-end Marvel production.
For an overall season ranking, clearly the Gamora episode is needed, but for a season finale this was better than I hoped. I can’t wait to see what else The Watcher uncovers next year.
Rating: 10 out of 10
Photo Credit: Disney+