Spoilers for episode four of What If…?
“What If… Doctor Strange lost his Heart Instead of his Hands?“
The first surprise was in the credits. I was under the impression that Benedict Cumberbatch was not reprising the role of Doctor Stephen Strange for What If…? yet there his name was. The fact that Marvel Studios have gotten as many of the original actors to come and do the voices for this animated series speaks highly of what these people think of their characters and of the studio itself.
This Doctor Strange episode got really dark, really fast. As in the other episodes of What If…?, something different happens in the familiar story to send the tale into a new path. In this moment, the car crash that was meant to take away Strange’s hands cost him his love, Christine, voiced by Rachel McAdams. Her repeated deaths in the opening act of the show was tough to watch.
What stood out in this episode was the beautiful animation and the imagery that they used to create the story. The direction of this was amazing. I spent the whole show looking at these wonderful shots that truly stood out.
The Watcher gets a little more screen time this week as Doctor Strange being able to sense the presence of the omniscient observer. It gave Jeffrey Wright, who voices the Watcher, something more to do than just see what was happening. Of course, he does not interfere in what is happening. It is not time yet for him to get involved. For those of us who are aware of Uatu the Watcher, we know it is just a matter of time before he does break his sacred oath and get involved in the events. It is inevitable. I think you will see Wright’s Watcher at some point in the live action MCU and not just the What If…? corner of it.
This episode takes the trope of the “evil twin” and put a spin on it. The Doctor Strange vs. Doctor Strange battle in the show was very well done. The whole episode dove into the darkness and did not spare anything. Seeing Doctor Strange absorbing the power of all those monstrous creatures, including what looked to be the same tentacled creature from episode 1 that fought Captain Carter, was trippy.
The music was epic as well. In particular when the two Stranges are fighting each other, the music was just tremendous. It was the perfect fit for the episode.
When I think back on the comic What If? that I read as a youth, the stories always seemed to end with a dark twist. There were never a bunch of happy endings. The fourth episode is the first that has really embraced that form of storytelling. The ending of the story was downright sad and the show transmitted those feeling magnificently. This was the most artistic of the episodes so far and brought the darkest of the multiverse to light.