Martin Carr reviews the season one finale of Marvel’s What If…?
This is always the way things were going to go. What If…? has been creating alternate realities for eight weeks, so creatively it made sense to bring that together. With a pimped up Ultron armed to the teeth and almost unstoppable, bringing together these disparate variations made perfect sense if the intention was to tie things up neatly.
So it is, that we have the vocal talents of Chadwick Boseman, Hayley Atwell and The Batch to name a few. All banding together to face down a formidable adversary in this multiverse, while the Watcher looks on. By incorporating shades of Captain America: Winter Soldier and lesser elements of Avengers: Endgame, What If…? blinds viewers with Marvel’s own brand of smoke and mirrors.
Both Chris Hemsworth and Toby Jones seem to be having a ball in their respective roles, while Kurt Russell’s blink and you miss it inclusion is a welcome addition. If anything, this final episode lacks any real emotional stakes, as it becomes apparent from the outset that our heroes will be victorious. As clever as the various references might be in tying this season up neatly, there is an inevitability to this resolution that means audiences might feel a touch detached from proceedings.
By also drawing on behaviours exhibited in Black Panther, What If…? leans into character traits explored by Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger, while Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa remains noble to the end. Even in the snippets that he has contributed throughout this series, there is no doubting the versatility on display. There is never any hint that he was phoning it in on any level. Even with the knowledge of time being in short supply, Chadwick Boseman offered up something in his performance which will never truly be appreciated.
If anything, that is where the heart and soul of What If…? resides. T’Challa in this incarnation forms the foundation upon which other performances can be built. Benedict Cumberbatch brings something special to Doctor Strange, while Hayley Atwell, Toby Jones and Chris Hemsworth also make this last episode come alive.
The question is where that will leave audiences who are gearing up for Spider-Man: No Way Home or Eternals as we head into 2022. With Hawkeye due before Christmas, She-Hulk currently before cameras and that Doctor Strange sequel in the can, Marvel have more than their fair share of opportunities to broaden the canvas further.