Martin Carr reviews the seventh episode of Marvel’s What If…?
Aerial fist fights, global frat parties and an errant polar bear define this seventh foray into the animated world of What If…? Heading up a cast which includes Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings and Jeff Goldblum briefly, Marvel’s God of thunder makes quite the impression. A fact that comes through effortlessly, as Chris Hemsworth seems to be having tremendous fun in his recording booth.
Brandishing the concept of an isolated Thor without a fractious Loki to temper his exuberance What If…? runs rampant. What comes out from this exercise in comedic confrontation is refreshingly free from conflict. Let loose in Vegas as Odin sleeps and his mother is off seeing friends, Thor procures Earth as his own personal playground.
By grabbing elements from the original film as a starting point, then dropping other characters from further instalments into the mix, episode seven takes on a distinctly light hearted tone. Drunken tattoos, amorous advances and a bright blue scene stealing Tom Hiddleston are just some of the high points to be enjoyed here.
The obvious chemistry which exists between these brothers from another mother carries the latter half along at a clip, while Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster is also a welcome addition. Aside from the confrontations between Thor and Captain Marvel, which see our apposing mainstays exchanging punches around the globe, this just feels like a big party.
Neither Rene Russo nor Brie Larson make an appearance to voice their respective characters, but the sense of loss is never keenly felt. From start to finish, with the exception of Tom Hiddleston’s vocal work, this episode rests squarely on the shoulders of Chris Hemsworth. An actor, who on this evidence, has taken to voice acting with the same easy manner he applies everywhere else.
In the aftermath of all the parental admonishments, fair weather tone and playful banter, an open-ended cliffhanger somehow feels superfluous. However, when the course of a life is changed so radically there must be repercussions, there must be a narrative shift and storytelling dictates that extraneous friction must occur. Similar in a way to episode five, this story throws the doors wide on a proposed continuation in forthcoming seasons.
Beyond that, episode seven proves that Thor, and more specifically Chris Hemsworth, still has mileage within the MCU. Over the course of his tenure in this role things have changed. Hairstyles have fluctuated, Shakespeare has given way to Shakespeare in the park, while tangents have been embraced. If nothing else What If…? only highlights his inherent versatility that guarantees to keep the character relevant for some time to come.