The second season of What If? has been dropped by Marvel Studios in a year that has seen both the rise and fall of the MCU. The final Guardians of the Galaxy and the second season of Loki were absolute triumphs, while the rest was pretty much a let down. I’m not even going to go into the Jonathan Major fiasco, but that must have hurt the MCU, and the future of this thing doesn’t look too bright. Considering all these, it was essential for Marvel to wrap up this year strong, and the good news is that What If? has been quite successful in doing that. With the anthology format, it was a given that some of the episodes would not be that good, while others might just be extraordinary. And that’s exactly how it went. We’re going to rank the new batch of episodes (in ascending order) for you if you’re looking for the right order to binge.
Episode 3: Happy Hogan Saves Christmas
A Christmas episode where all the Avengers are busy and Jarvis is under maintenance, so good ol’ Happy Hogan has to save the day? The idea sounded great on paper, and there was no reason not to admire Jon Favreau, but the episode didn’t quite hit the mark. The Hulk twist was cool, and the return of an Iron Man villain was pretty neat, though.
Episode 5: Captain Carter Fight The Hydra Stomper
Remember Peggy Carter as Captain Carter from season 1? In what should be considered a sequel to the pilot episode of the show, we got another dose of Peggy as the Captain, who had to fight none other than Steve Rogers inside the Hydra Stomper suit. The reason I’m putting this one in this position is mainly because nothing particularly original happened in this one. There was a Black Widow connection (and appearance of the character), but that didn’t do much good.
Episode 1: Nebula Joins The Nova Corps
This season kicked off with an episode set in a universe where Thanos and Gamora are dead and Nebula is working for the Nova Corps. I thought the idea of having Ronan as the main villain was quite exciting. But the real deal here was Nebula getting to save an entire planet from the wrath of Ronan and also avenge the deaths of her family. The twist regarding the Nova Prime was not particularly hard to see coming, though.
Episode 4: Iron Man Crashes Into Grandmaster
Directly tied up with the first Avengers movie, this episode hinged on the twist where the portal closed before Iron Man could return to Earth. The idea of taking him to Sakaar and him coming across Grandmaster was novel enough to engage the audience. But it was pretty weird that someone other than Robert Downey Jr. played the character, even if it was just voice acting.
Episode 6: Kahhori Reshapes The World
It was really cool of Marvel Studios to introduce a new superhero and make the character an indigenous girl. Instead of focusing on the multiverse or twisting something that was familiar to us, this one episode decided to tell a fresh new story with a new character at the center of it. And it worked out wonderfully well, and Kahhori managed to make an instant impression. The Doctor Strange tie-up in the end was a cool twist, by the way. I hope we get to see more of Kahhori in the MCU. In fact, bringing the character into live action might not be a bad idea.
Episode 8: The Avengers Assembles In 1602
This episode was the continuation of episode 5, with Peggy Carter’s Captain at the helm of everything again. But this was clearly a significant improvement over what was in the first part of the story. It was really fun to watch the familiar faces team up to fight familiar faces in much different circumstances. From Robinhood Steve Rogers to mad scientist Tony Stark to Happy Hogan working for Thor, this was an universe of strangeness that Carter tried to save with all she had, despite The Watcher (who also made an appearance as a character) telling her it was futile. That’s what heroes do in every universe, I suppose!
Episode 2: Peter Quill Attacks Earth’s Mightiest Heroes
In what I consider one of the strongest episodes of this season of What If?, it was further established that Peter Quill, aka our Star Lord, was better off without his menace of a father, Ego. Too bad he had to deal with Ego as Yondu returned Peter to his actual father in this alternate timeline. But if that hadn’t happened, we wouldn’t have this cool story set in the eighties where a very different group of Avengers fought the celestial maniac.
Episode 7: Hela Finds The Ten Rings
They could have just named this episode “What if Hela was a good god?”! I have always felt that in the MCU, the parenting of Odin had a lot to do with how three of his children—Hela, Thor, and Odin—turned out. Hela’s hunger for power stemmed from her father alone, and in this episode, we actually got to see an alternative to that. And it was refreshing to see, to be honest. What further worked out was including the character of Wen Wu and the legacy of ten rings into the mix. The end result was a fascinating episode that was hella (not a pun, please) entertaining from start to finish, and a lot of credit for that goes to Cate Blanchett’s sass. Also, I can’t stop imagining a live-action version of this featuring Blanchett, Anthony Hopkins, and Tony Leung.
Episode 9: The Strange Supreme Intervenes
They saved the best one for last. And like the first season, the best episode of this season also focused on Doctor Strange and his plight of reviving the love of his life, Christine Palmer. Like always, trying to bring back Christine was always a bad idea, and sadly, Strange still hasn’t managed to learn from the past. With Strange going mad, we needed someone to stop him, and who better than Captain Carter to do so? But the surprise package in this episode was Kahhori, who again justified her inclusion in the MCU. And with the episode ending with a view of the Yggdrasil effectively tying up things with the all-important Loki Season 2, we can expect What If? to have more bonkers stories in the next season.