Hawkeye S1 E6

SPOILERS FOR HAWKEYE EP. 6

“So This is Christmas?”

The Hawkeye finale had a lot of actions and the wrap of storylines (maybe too many), but it left me with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach because of one major moment… after a confrontation with Kate Bishop and being hit with a car driven by Eleanor, Kingpin ran into someone with a grudge.

Maya.

The show made it appear as though Maya, aka Echo, killed Kingpin by shooting him in the head. We did not see the actual shot, but we heard it off screen. Still, it made me unhappy that after so long waiting to see Vincent D’Onofrio reprise his role only to kill him off after the first episode.

The I saw this on Twitter. It was from the comic books.

This made me feel a lot better. I expect that Kingpin survived the attack and will be the main antagonist in the upcoming Echo series on Disney +.

So with that out of the way, I can look back over the rest of Hawkeye episode 6 with more open heart and less bitterness over the possible death of Kingpin.

There were a lot of great scenes in this episode, many of which included Florence Pugh as Yelena. Her initial reactions with Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop in the elevator and through the Christmas Eve party was great. Honestly, I would go for a whole series of Kate and Yelena together. The dialogue is crisp and the action is well designed.

But even more emotional was Yelena’s showdown with Clint on the ice outside 30 Rock. Yelena had every intention of killing him, but she wanted to know about her sister Natasha more. This was a powerful scene and fit beautifully with these two tremendous actors. Clint doing the whistle brought Yelena back to reality, finally accepting that what Clint was telling her about Natasha’s final moments was true.

We got a chance to see the new costumes and to see our LARPers in action as Clint and Kate’s “army.” This was a little iffy for me, but it worked in the long run. Gotta love Grills.

One of the issues I believe is the difference in directors. Episode six was directed by Rhys Thomas, who also directed episodes 1 & 2. Episodes 3-5, which are considered the best of the series by most critics and commenters, were directed by Bert and Bertie. I wonder how the series would have felt had Bert and Bertie directed episode 6 as well?

Then, thankfully, Clint was able to get back to his family for Christmas as he promised, with Kate and Lucky the Pizza Dog in tow. I could not have handled a tragic end for Clint Barton after these six episodes so I am thrilled that he made it home. Plus, he had a certain gold watch with him that he gave to his wife Laura. On the back of the gold watch, we see a symbol of SHIELD, confirming that Laura was, at one time, an agent of SHIELD. Was she Mockingbird? Maybe.

This episode ended with a post credit scene, the only episode of the series to do so. After wishing everyone a Happy Holidays from Marvel Studios …

The show gave us a full Broadway number from Rogers: The Musical. We got the full song of “I Can Do This All Day”!

This was a ton of fun and really put a nice button on the series.

Some other plot points wrapped up:

  • Eleanor killed Armond.
  • Jack was innocent and had been framed by Eleanor. Jack had a chance to show his sword skills helping Kate at the party.
  • Maya killed Kazi in an emotional struggle.
  • Eleanor was arrested for the murder of Armond but she did show that she loved Kate more than her partnership with Wilson Fisk.
  • More trick arrows including another Pym tech one that led to a problem for the Track Suit Mafia.
Hawkeye Episode 6 Finale: Is the owl a Marvel Easter egg? - GameRevolution
  • Eleanor using information to try and blackmail Kingpin shows that she has some balls.
  • Clint called Kate his partner.
  • Kingpin wore his Family Business outfit from the Marvel Comics.

Hawkeye has been a great season. My current Marvel Studios’ Disney + series ranking are as follows:

  1. WandaVision
  2. (very close) Loki
  3. Hawkeye
  4. What If…?
  5. Falcon & Winter Soldier

They’ve all be excellent though. Not sure what is next…maybe Moon Knight? She-Hulk? Ms. Marvel. I’m sure it will continue the excellence the 2021 shows have begun.

Hawkeye S1 E5

SPOILERS FOR HAWKEYE EPISODE 5

“Ronin”

It has happened.

After weeks of speculation and trepidation, Marvel Studios brought the first character from the Netflix Marvel shows into the MCU, and it was one of the characters/actors that everyone wanted.

Yes, Vincent D’Onofrio is now a member of the MCU playing the one and only Kingpin. Wilson Fisk appeared in a photo, a blurry and out of focus cell phone picture on Kate Bishop’s phone.

Technically, I suppose that could be any actor, but Vincent D’Onofrio’s name was in the end credits so it is 100% confirmed. One of the greatest villain performances of all Marvel projects is D’Onofrio’s Kingpin, and now he is in the MCU.

This was, of course, the conclusion of the episode, but the show had so much more to it than just a Kingpin cameo. We had a flashback to 2018 as Yelena was out trying to free another former Black Widow agent when we saw her get dusted during the Blip. However, we saw the event from Yelena’s perspective and it looked as if she was only gone for a matter of seconds, but it turned into 5 years. When she came back and realized that she had been gone for 5 years, her first thought was of Natasha, and that was heartbreaking considering that she had no idea about Natasha’s sacrifice.

Then in present day, we get a fantastic conversation between Yelena and Kate Bishop. Florence Pugh and Hailee Steinfeld showed just how much charisma and chemistry they had. The discussion between them was as compelling as any action scene that the show gave us. These two women are incredible performers and will be vitally important to the MCU over the years.

Clint, meanwhile, got himself back into the Ronin costume for a confrontation with Echo. During this fight, Clint revealed himself as Ronin to Maya and then told her that her “boss” had an informant send info to Ronin about her father. He told her that the boss wanted her father dead. I have a feeling that we just saw the set up for the Echo Marvel Studios series that is in the works.

We also got to see a cool thing with a monument in NYC honoring the Avenger members for their efforts of the Battle of New York. Clint came here to talk with Natasha.

It is just another example of Marvel’s expert world building. Yelena also mentioned the “improved Statue of Liberty” which was an allusion to Spider-Man: No Way Home, which I will be seeing tomorrow night.

Next week, the Hawkeye series comes to a conclusion and they seem to have a lot of area to cover before it is over. Just looking at a possible list of things that they may need to cover includes:

  • Kingpin’s plans
  • Who killed Armond?
  • What is up with that watch from Avengers Compound? How does it tie with Laura Barton?
  • Hawkeye and Yelena’s problems
  • Echo and “Uncle”
  • Is Elenore the real power? Did she frame Jack or is that part of their plan?
  • Name the Pizza Dog!
  • Will Clint make it home for Christmas?

Hawkeye has been a great series so far and I am excited to see the finale next week.

Hawkeye S1 E4

SPOILERS FOR HAWKEYE EPISODE 4

Partners, Am I Right?”

Marvel Studios Hawkeye has become an awesome series, improving every week. Episode three was such a great episode, could episode 4 match up?

While there were fewer action scenes this week, the character moments were all the more impactful. There was a sweet moment between Kate, her mom and Jack. We saw Eleanor and Jack dance and Jack had a funny quirk of screwing up phrases such as “Absence makes the heart grow older.” It was enduring and made you wonder perhaps they aren’t as bad as you think…

Okay, maybe not. But there were some cool character moments with them anyway. I also believe very much that the show is setting up Jack to look like one of the people in charge of the Track Suit Mafia when I believe the real power is Eleanor. I love Vera Farmiga and anything that gives her more to do, well, I am all for it.

There was a great set of character beats between Clint and Kate when Kate came over with films and ugly sweaters for some Christmas cheer. Kate knew Clint would be missing his children so she came to cheer him up. This led to the discussion about Ronin and Kate guessing that Clint was actually Ronin. Jeremy Renner and Hailee Steinfeld are such exquisite actors that even the minimalist scene is powerful. Renner’s facial reactions are beautiful, revealing Clint’s guilt over his past as Ronin, the pain of losing Natasha, and the loneliness of not being with his family on Christmas. All the while, slowly building confidence in Kate as a partner, though he is not willing to call her that. The subtlety of the scenes in the apartment shows off such great direction and some superb writing.

And when the action arrives, the action is so kick ass. The action sequences in the last couple of episodes have been exceptional and the rooftop fight with Maya, Clint, Kate and the mysterious masked figure was just brilliantly executed. Of course, we knew who that masked figure was. Anyone who saw the post credit scene of Black Widow earlier this year knew that Yelena Belova, Natasha Romanoff’s “sister”, was on her way and she had some unfinished business with Hawkeye.

Florence Pugh is one of the brightest new stars of the MCU and, with a potential pairing with Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop, the MCU has two amazingly talented actors to carry the franchise into the future.

Last week’s biggest shock was the appearance of “Uncle” in Maya’s flashback and the speculation that this was Vincent D’Onofrio reprising his role as Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin. We did not get any confirmation of this in episode 4, although there was another mention of “The Big Man” at the top, which was an obvious inference to Kingpin. If this turns out to not be Kingpin, this would make the absence of Mephisto in WandaVision seem like nothing. With Kevin Feige confirming that if Daredevil appears in the MCU, he will be played by Charlie Cox, it is simply a matter of time before Kingpin shows his bald head. With episode 5 scheduled to come out the day before Spider-Man: No Way Home is released (and Charlie Cox rumored to be playing Matt Murdock there) I would not be surprised if Vincent D’Onofrio is coming next week.

This show continues to showcase the exceptional interplay with Clint and Kate. Of course, now Clint is trying to distance himself form Kate as a way of protecting her because he knows that the arrival of the Black Widow Assassin changed the game. It is unclear whether or not Clint knew who Yelena was, but that confrontation is coming soon because there are only two episodes left.

Hawkeye S1 E3

SPOILERS FOR HAWKEYE EPISODE 3

Echoes

Episode three of Hawkeye took a huge step forward, taking the fun energy from episodes 1 & 2, and tossing some action and feels into the show.

Plus a major Easter egg… who is Uncle?

Little Maya, who would grow up to be Echo, is shown in flashbacks at some martial arts training when her father told her that Uncle would take her home. And then we saw him. A large man in a black suit, carefully out of frame, came up to Maya and touched her face kindly. There was a small laugh from the man too. And the world all came to the same immediate conclusion… Wilson Fisk aka Kingpin.

Could this be Vincent D’Onofrio from the Netflix Daredevil series? It sure looked like him and the show hinted HEAVILY at that in several other moments, but it did not matter. KINGPIN CONFIRMED!!!!

It was obviously Kingpin in the scene. I won’t hear any other theories, dang it. It is not like Marvel has trolled us before (ahem… Ralph Boehner…. Mephisto…. a jet ski).

These flashbacks did an amazing job of connecting us to Echo in just a few minutes. We all could relate to her and felt for her. When her father died from the Ronin attack, the plot showed us the motive for what Echo is doing.

The action ramped up to eleven too. The car chase scene that they showed in a preview fell into this episode and it was tremendous. It was shot beautifully, with such an amount of creativity. The chase scene was right out of the Matt Fraction run on Hawkeye, with a few adjustments.

Near the end of the scene we get one of the most awesome use of arrows and technology. Clint Barton fired a Pym arrow at another arrows that Kate has shot and made it a gigantic arrow, which crushed the Tack Suit Mafia’s car. This rocked so hard.

By the way, I love the Track Suit Mafia. They are hilarious, Bro. Trust a Bro.

The episode ended way too early. It just flew by and ended with Ronin’s sword in Jack’s hand at Clint’s throat. It is a great cliffhanger and I can’t wait for next week.

The action was astounding, but the quiet moments were so full of emotion. When Clint received the phone call from his son Daniel during the time when his hearing aid was broken, and Kate had to write down what Daniel was saying was really powerful. Especially when Clint says to his son that he loved hearing his voice when that was the last thing he could do. That scene was so emotional and caring and you got to see daddy Clint and the pain of not being with his family was palatable. Then, the diner scene where Clint told Kate how the hero’s life required sacrifice and included pain and Kate just thought Clint needed a new costume.

Three more episodes to go. Hawkeye has been a wonderful series so far. And we have not had any sign of Yelena Belova yet. These performances are fantastic and impactful…even the little roles. There is nothing wasted.

And Bro… that was Kingpin!

Hawkeye S1 E1 & 2

SPOILERS FOR MARVEL STUDIOS’ NEW SHOW, HAWKEYE

Never Meet Your Heroes

and

Hide and Seek

Bro.

Marvel Studios has returned with their next Disney + series, this time featuring Clint Barton, Hawkeye. However, it is not just about Hawkeye, but it also serves as the introduction to Kate Bishop, the young girl who adopts the name Hawkeye in the comics.

This series has inspirations from the Matt Fraction run on Hawkeye from 2012 in Marvel Comics. As with all MCU content, it takes the material from the comic books and shifts it to what they are trying to accomplish with their movies/shows. This is clearly happening here. Many of the things that happened to Clint Barton in the comics are happening to Kate Bishop in the show.

Kate Bishop is played by Hailee Steinfeld and this is a perfect casting. From scene number one, Steinfeld personifies Kate Bishop beautifully and makes the character her own. There is a surprisingly large amount of time spent with Kate Bishop in the first two episodes, which I think works very well considering that we are still learning who she is in the MCU. Hailee Steinfeld is a star and her chemistry with Jeremy Renner is apparent.

Some general thoughts…

I love Vera Farmiga. She is great in everything that she does and casting her as Kate Bishop’s mother is a stroke of genius. Them pairing her up with Jack Duquesne, as played by Tony Dalton is awesome too. Jack Duquesne is the name of a Marvel character named the Swordsman and we see a few hints about that as well.

I loved the prologue which shows young Kate Bishop eavesdropping on her father and mother fighting. Kate claimed that nothing would fall out of the sky, which is an ironic statement considering this flashback was set in 2012 and that it was the day of the Chitauri’s assault on New York. Seeing the events of the day through the perspective of the child brings more of a impact of the moment.

Bro. The Tracksuit Mafia. Bro.

I love how Clint just hung around at the end of episode two waiting for the Tracksuit Mafia to come and “kidnap” him. He called it “catch and release” and it reminded me of the scene with Scarlett Johansson in the 2012 Avengers. His calmness in the face of this situation gives you the idea of what a badass Clint Barton was.

Then there was Lucky the Pizza Dog.

At the very end of episode two, we get our first glimpse at Echo, who seemed to be the force behind the Tracksuit Mafia. Echo is a more recent character in Marvel Comics and she already has a spin off series on Disney + planned so she will certainly be a big deal moving forward. I’m not sure if she is truly the one behind the Tracksuit Mafia. When they blew into the black market auction, they were after a specific item: a watch that was recovered from the wreckage of Avengers Headquarters. What connection that has to anything is yet to be determined.

I would be remiss if I did not mention Rogers: The Musical! The slight glimpse we got at the stage show (before Clint and his family snuck out) was cool. We heard part of the song “I can do this all day” with a group of dancing and singing Avengers. It was not just a joke either as it seemed to trigger the painful memories of losing Natasha for Clint as well as other troublesome memories.

I did enjoy the moments we got with Clint and his kids. I am also happy that some of the speculation as to why Clint’s wife, Laura (played by Linda Cardellini), was not in the trailer did not come to fruition. There was speculation that they had separated or were at odds. Thankfully, that is not the case and Clint was just getting time alone with the kids in NYC. The whole Christmas feel of this series is great and the theme of family is explored.

Hawkeye at the LARPing event is one of the best scenes in the show. It introduced the character of Grills to the show as well. And…

“I fought Thanos.” LOL

Hawkeye is attending a larp in the new Hawkeye trailer or I'm a monkey's  uncle : r/LARP

The first two episodes have been very grounded and street level, which is something that the MCU could use at this point with all the multiversal action happening now. Clint Barton gets a chance to shine, which is something he has not had much time to do up until this point. I am excited to see the rest of the show.

What If…? S1 E9

SPOILERS FOR THE SEASON FINALE OF WHAT IF…? EPISODE 9

What If… The Watcher Broke his Oath?”

The finale for season one What If…? was just fantastic.

Little had we known that the whole season was building toward an epic battle where a bunch of the main characters from the preceding episodes are brought together as the Guardians of the Multiverse.

The recruitment of the characters started off the show as the Watcher bounced around to select the team members. Star-Lord T’Challa, Captain Carter (who was in a Captain America: Winter Soldier style fight with Batroc the Leaper at the time), Wakandan leader Killmonger, Party Thor, Strange Supreme, and the Champion of Sakaar and Destroyer of Thanos, Gamora.

Wait… what?

This is obviously the original tenth episode that was on the schedule and wound up, supposedly, moved to the second season. It was blamed on COVID-19, but who really knows. No matter what, Gamora was still involved here. Even more… Iron Man was here and did not die! Huzzah! Of course, he was also not invited along.

The Guardians of the Multiverse met at a interdimensional bar where they worked on plans and ate Chinese food. We got some initial group dynamic at this point of the story.

When Ultron found the Guardians, they started to battle and it was just glorious. The action was expertly choreographed and beautifully animated.

When they wound up on the earth from last episode, they run into Black Widow and the action took another step up. Including this little effort….

I loved everything about this action. From the multiple Mjolnirs to the use of zombies including zombie Wanda Maximoff and dueling shields off Ultron’s head, there was a ton of creativity and wonderfully laid out. We get the pay off to the Arnim Zola virus from last episode and a betrayal by Killmonger, looking for the infinity stones himself.

The end was savage by Strange Supreme and The Watcher.

The Watcher dropping off Black Widow, who did not want to go back to her dead world, on the earth where the OG Avengers had been murdered by Hank Pym was just such an emotionally satisfying moment for the character of Black Widow that it was really lovely.

Post credit scene too indicated a potential happy ending for Peggy Carter with the discovery of the Hydra Stomper on the boat where Captain carter was fighting Batroc. Was this meant to echo the end of Endgane or Winter Soldier?

Here is the season’s final list of favorites.

  1. What If… The Watcher Broke His Oath?”

2. What If… Doctor Strange Lost his Heart instead of his Hands?

3. What If… T’Challa became a Star-Lord?

4. What If… Ultron Won?

5. What If…Zombies?

6. What If… Thor was an Only Child?

7. What If… Captain Carter were the First Avenger?

8. What If… The World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes

9. What If… Killmonger Had Rescued Tony Stark?

What If…? has been a great show. It was very unexpected because we all thought it was an anthology series with episodes ending in cliffhangers that MAY be revisited in future seasons. Nope. Wrong. This was a interconnected story with several stories introducing the characters that would be appearing together in the finale. The last three episodes started to bring Ultron into focus as the series’ Big Bad and redefined how we looked at What If…? The artistry of the animation was special every episode. For the first true animated series from Marvel Studios was a rousing success. I look forward to season two.

Coming next in November is Hawkeye.

What If…? S1 Ep8

SPOILERS FOR EPISODE 8 OF WHAT IF…?

What If… Ultron had Won?”

An anthology series it is no longer.

What If…? which has apparently been giving us stand alone episodes for the last seven weeks, all of the episodes being left off on a cliffhanger. Many people speculated that these stories would be picked up again with part twos in season two, but now it looks as if the episodes that have come prior are building up to a finale where they all come together to face the ultimate villain, Ultron, with the Infinity Stones.

One of the most important things we learned this episode was that Black Widow loved Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Hawkeye makes a Raiders joke here and it was really funny. Hawkeye and Black Widow were a major part of this episode as they seem to be the surviving Avengers on a planet where Ultron has launched the nuclear missiles crashing the earth into an apocalyptic world.

Plus, there was one of those epically beautiful pieces of art as Hawkeye lunged himself into the pile of Ultron bots to shoot them with an explosive arrow and sacrifice himself so Black Widow and Arnim Zola could escape. Hawkeye had said he was tired of fighting, part because his family must have been killed in the nuclear attack.

So beautiful. It was reminiscent of the Valkyries fighting Hela in Asgard in Thor: Ragnarok and Captain America standing as the last man standing against Thanos and his army, just prior to the return of all the heroes.

Of course, before this, the Watcher, who is becoming more and more desperate, is watching Black Widow and Hawkeye are searching for the way to solve the Ultron problem. It was awesome how panicky Watcher has become as he was truly worried about Ultron. He had no idea what was coming to him. The Ultron vs. Watcher fight was an epic one. It showed how powerful Watcher is, but also it showed how unbelievably dangerous Ultron had become.

Of course, this is all Uatu’s fault. After Ultron destroyed his universe and had created “peace,” The Watcher was talking about Ultron and his devastation when the robot heard him. Not since Supreme Strange in episode 4 had anyone heard the Watcher doing his narration, but Ultron does. And the show does this amazing job of revealing that Ultron could hear him.

One of the most controversial moments of the episode that most likely caused the fan boys to flip out. Thanos, with five infinity stones, arrived on earth and was promptly sliced in half with Ultron’s mind stone. It took all of two seconds and was probably easier than it should have been. It did go out of the way to show how powerful this version of Ultron, fused into the body of Vision as he wanted to do in Age of Ultron, was. I am sure that this was done to expediate the story of Ultron getting the Infinity Stoners, but it did kind of do Thanos dirty.

By the way… how many times has Tony Stark been killed in What If…? this season? Episode 3, Episode 5, Episode 6, and now in Episode 8.

Back to the way the article began, What If…? is no longer an anthology series. We know that because The Watcher, after escaping from the grasp of Ultron, showed up inside the crystal prison where the sinister Strange Supreme has been existing since episode four, and Watcher asked Strange for his help. Looks like the Avengers of the Multiverse truly will be coming next week in the finale.

This was a wonderful penultimate episode for this season that I really enjoyed. Here is where it falls in the list of episodes for season one:

1A. What If… Doctor Strange Lost his Heart instead of his Hands?

1B. What If… T’Challa became a Star-Lord?

3. What If… Ultron had Won?

4. What If…Zombies?

5. What If… Thor was an Only Child?

6. What If… Captain Carter were the First Avenger?

7. What If… The World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?

8. What If… Killmonger Had Rescued Tony Stark?

What If…? S1 Ep7

Spoilers for the 7th episode of What If…?

What If… Thor was an Only Child?”

The seventh episode of Marvel’s What If…? on Disney + took a twist this week after four straight episodes of darkness and tragic endings. We had the Avengers murdered by Hank Pym, a universe destroyed because Dr. Strange lost his love, Zombies, and then Killmonger killing Stark, Rhodey and Black Panther. Each of the last four weeks end with what could be apocalyptic events.

Bucking that trend, this weeks episode was a ton of fun and had a party atmosphere. It was like those high school/college party movies where the party members made a gigantic mess and had to clean things up before the parents return home, except this was Frigga, the mother of Thor.

Thor is the ultimate party god, taking his friends around to different planets in the universe to have a huge blow out, leaving the planets in shambles behind them.

There are a ton of cameos and Easter eggs in this week’s show. There are the Guardians of the Galaxy, Yondu, Skrulls, Howard the Duck, all of the Asgardians, The Grandmaster, Korg, members of the Sovereign, Skurge, Valkyrie, Miek, Surtur, and Loki as a Frost Giant.

The episode also featured one of the best super hero slugfests you are going to see as Thor and Captain Marvel participated in the slobberknockers of slobberknockers. It literally spanned the globe (with some really funny visual gags of the country’s names listed on the ground). Thor vs. Captain Marvel is worth the episode alone.

Even though this was a fun and lighter episode than what we have been used to over the run of the series, this still had an ending that may lead to darkness. The tag at the end saw Thor standing as a group of Ultron robots appear out of a portal, with one Ultron leading the way. This Ultron had the Infinity stones and had the face of Vision. It even caught the Watcher off guard as he had just told us that this was going to lead to a happy ending. Yeah, right. We knew better than that.

Only two more episodes remain and it is looking as if some of the characters that have appeared in episodes of the series may be coming back together for the finale. Not sure how that is going to happen, but, like Uatu, I’ll be watching.

Updated list of favorite episode.

1A. What If… Doctor Strange Lost his Heart instead of his Hands?

1B. What If… T’Challa became a Star-Lord?

3. What If…Zombies?

4. What If… Thor was an Only Child?

5. What If… Captain Carter were the First Avenger?

6. What If… The World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?

7. What If… Killmonger Had Rescued Tony Stark?

What If…? S1 Ep 6

Spoilers for What If…? Episode 6

What If…Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?”

I have to say, it was tough watching Black Panther, voiced by Chadwick Boseman, die in this episode. He wasn’t here long, but I was surprised how much watching the animated version of him die would affect me.

This week’s What If…? is a take on the character of Killmonger, voiced by Michael B. Jordan. Killmonger is considered one of the MCU’s most complicated and developed villains. His one appearance in the Black Panther movie set him up as one of the classics. Here, Killmonger takes a different path. He saves Tony Stark from being kidnapped and ending up in a cave in Afghanistan. Because of that, we no longer had an Iron Man.

However, it did not mean that Killmonger was now a heroic figure. In fact, the son of the Prince N’Jobu was as brutal as he was in Black Panther. Here he wound up killing T’Challa, Rhodey, and, eventually, Tony Stark, all in a plan to find himself in Wakanda in a position of power. He still had the intention of spreading the power of Wakanda across the planet, freeing the oppressed brothers, it just took a different path.

All of the episodes of What If…? have left off on a cliffhanger, a place where they could continue the story, if they so choose, but none of the other five episodes felt as incomplete as this one did. While the other episodes had potential cliffhangers, they also served as episodes that could stand on their own without taking it any further. This episode felt a bit empty with where it left off. I wanted more.

There is still some beautiful animation in this episode with some wonderful imagery. It is something that What If…? is becoming known for. Yet this episode felt as if it were missing something. Maybe it was the fact that it had the most non-MCU returning actors doing voices (no Tony Stark, no Obidiah Stane, no Pepper Pots, no Shuri) of any episode so far. The Tony Stark voice, done by Mick Wingert, was solid, but the others distracted me.

Episode rank so far…

1A. What If… Doctor Strange Lost his Heart instead of his Hands?

1B. What If… T’Challa became a Star-Lord?

3. What If…Zombies?

4. What If… Captain Carter were the First Avenger?

5. What If… The World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?

6. What If… Killmonger Had Rescued Tony Stark?

Three more episodes to go.

What If…? S1 Ep5

SPOILERS FOR WHAT IF…? EPISODE 5

“What If… Zombies?”

I never thought that I would ever see Marvel Zombies in anything outside of the comic book page. However, Marvel Studio’s animated series, What If…? has made what seemed impossible not only possible, but definitive.

Episode 5 was yet another great episode from this special series, entitled simply “What If…Zombies?” I had really wondered what point that they would use in the MCU to send the world into a Zombie Apocalypse. They chose a perfect place to do it. As Hope Van Dyne is trying to save her mother Janet from the Quantum Realm, he had no idea that Janet had been infected with the Zombie curse and that by having Hank Pym bring her back to the MCU, it would lead to the end of the civilization as we knew it. I loved this way of bringing in the zombies.

It was also an awesome way to connect Bruce Banner into the story, by picking it up when he crashed back to earth into the Sanctum Sanctorum in Infinity War. It kept the Hulk out of the story at first, since he was still having his Thanos-induced freak out. However, we do discover that not even the Dark Order were immune to the zombie curse.

One of the cool aspects of this episode was seeing the different Marvel heroes, from Iron Man to Hawkeye to Captain America as Zombies. It was cool as well to see the ragtag group that had been brought together as the few survivors of the world. Hope, Spider-Man, Happy Hogan, Bucky Barnes, Agent Sharon Carter, and … Kurt (from Ant Man).

The use of Vision and Wanda was just as heartbreaking as it always seems to be for these two. Even in the zombie universe, Vision is destined to die. How many times have we seen our favorite android destroyed. Twice in Infinity War, once in WandaVision, and now here. Having Vision keeping zombified Wanda in check as he tried to find a cure was truly a sad fate for both of them. For God sakes, he was feeding her humans (including pieces of T’Challa. Chadwick Boseman once again handling the voice. I wonder how many more times we will be blessed with his voice in this series).

And…. Wanda vs. the Hulk? ‘Nuff said.

I want to comment on some of the criticism I saw on Twitter after the episode, the same silly gripes that have been in the MCU from the beginning. I saw people complaining how the zombies episode had too much humor in it and that some people were unhappy that it was not as dark as it could be. First of all, the story has the characters of Spider-Man and Scott Lange in it, and Scott Lange happens to be a head in a jar. I’m sorry, but with those characters, you are going to have humor. If you did not have humor, you would not be servicing those characters properly.

In fact, as a huge Spider-Man fan, I know that Peter Parker has been using humor to keep the insanity of the world outside of him since the very beginning. Without his humor masking his fear, he would not be able to continue on in the face of the terrible events he has gone through. It is a coping mechanism and Spidey has been doing it forever. I do not want to see a down trodden and depressed Spider-Man. The fact that Spidey is on the internet doing rules for surviving the Zombie Apocalypse is such a great character beat and is right out of Zombieland, which is a zombie movie that showed that you can have humor and still have a fearsome setting.

In fact, the episode specifically addresses this in one of the best scenes around. Spidey talks about how his Aunt May said to him that he had to keep smiling or else he may as well be gone. Plus, he mentioned Uncle Ben, something that the MCU has skirted around from the start of the web slinger.

Spider-Man was the absolute heart of this episode and it gave us the most beautifully accurate Spidey we have seen in the MCU yet. So everything was not doom and gloom. Who cares? We had a philosophy on life that is great advice and can be placed into context for any situation, not just the zombie apocalypse.

Tom Holland was unable to provide the voice of Peter Parker. The rumor was that his Sony contract would not allow it, which was sad. However, we got Hudson Thames doing a excellent job as the Web Head. The rest of the cast were back including Paul Bettany, Paul Rudd, Sebastian Stan, Danai Gurira, Jon Favreau, Mark Ruffalo, Evangeline Lilly and David Dastmalchian.

This was a great episode of What If…? As of this moment (and it might be fluid) the order of my favorite episodes are #1. T’Challa is Star-Lord #2, Dr. Strange loses his heart, #3 Zombies, #4. Captain Carter, and #5. Avengers are murdered. Honestly, I could see the top three moving around quite a bit. There has not been a clunker of an episode yet.

Oh… and that cliffhanger! WTF!!!

What If…? s1 ep4

Spoilers for episode four of What If…?

“What If… Doctor Strange lost his Heart Instead of his Hands?

Whoa. Dark.

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.

What If…? s1 ep3

SPOILERS FOR EPISODE THREE OF WHAT IF…?

“What If… The World Lost its Mightiest Heroes”

Above all else, this What If…? episode reminded me how much I miss Agent Phil Coulson. It was great hearing Clark Gregg reprise his role as the biggest fanboy SHIELD agent around during the events of this story.

Somebody is out to put an end to the Avenger Initiative before it ever gets a chance to start. Who is it? We get a mystery in episode three dealing with the murders of several of the OG Avengers.

This was my least favorite of the three episodes so far because it felt too constricted. In a story that could have been widespread and sprawling, this one felt too constricted, hurt by the half hour time frame. That’s not to say that this was a bad episode, far from it. It just was the weakest of the three so far, IMO.

This takes place during the week in the MCU where we got Iron Man 2, Thor and The Incredible Hulk, those three movies happening basically at the same moments. Except the films take a turn and each of the main heroes end up dead. Iron Man, apparently at the hands of Black Widow and Thor by Hawkeye’s arrow.

Thor’s death brought the warriors of Asgard to earth looking to seek vengeance for his death. Led by Loki, the Asgardian forces faced off with SHIELD. Meanwhile, Agent Fury was desperately trying to figure out who was inside SHIELD and killing off these “assets.” Fury strikes a deal with Loki to give them a little time to figure out the truth.

Black Widow was voiced in this episode by Lake Bell, who has been doing the voice of Poison Ivy in the Harley Quinn series. She does a solid job as our Russian assassin. Though it appeared that Widow had been the one to kill Tony Stark, she is given permission by Fury to keep investigating. One of the coolest part of What If…? is the way some scenes are echoes in the show from the MCU. In this case, we see Black Widow in the back of a SHIELD truck, surrounded by guards as she is being transported to a secure location. This imagery echoed the famous elevator scene from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, although this time with Natasha at the center.

You almost expect her to ask if anyone wants to get out.

Natasha figures the mystery out, but is killed before she can reveal the true answer. She is able to leave a voice mail message for Fury saying that it was “all about Hope” which, at first sounded like she said Hulk.

This was where the episode felt the most rushed. The conclusion featuring our villain, Hank Pym, angry over the death of his daughter Hope (who was working with SHIELD?) and we get a chance to see the way he is able to have killed these other heroes. The design on Hank Pym was cool, making him look very insane from grief.

After Pym’s capture, Loki decides that Midgard would be a nice planet to rule and he takes over the world. Does it pretty easy too. Every episode of What If…? so far feels as if it could be setting up for a continuation of the story. Here we get Fury discovering Captain America and welcoming Carol Danvers back to earth. Is this the formation of a new team of Avengers?

I guess only the Watcher knows for sure.

Good episode that felt too crunched. I just love Coulson.

What If…? s1 e2

SPOILERS FOR WHAT IF…? Episode Two

“What If… T’Challa Became a Star-Lord?”

I was fine watching this episode until the dedication came on screen at the end of the show. That was when the waterworks came. It said, “Dedicated to our friend, our inspiration, and our hero” and that was all it took. Knowing that Chadwick Boseman gave his final appearance, final performance within this animated series is tough. He was such an amazing actor and he was the perfect casting for T’Challa, helping to bring the character to the forefront of the cultural zeitgeist. “Wakanda Forever” a phase that became a rallying cry in the real world, not just in the fictional one. Chadwick Boseman was truly something special.

And this episode of What If…? displays that joyous Zen for life that radiated from Boseman. This episode was amazing, featuring a ton of awesome characters all effected by the aura of T’Challa, just as we all were.

At first glance, having T’Challa become Star-Lord seemed a bit random. I wondered because the name Star-Lord came from Peter Quill’s mother’s letter to him, how was it even going to work? It was a detail not discussed, but it is such a minor quibble that it really did not matter.

This episode was different than last week’s. Last week we met Captain Carter but she basically followed the same storyline of Captain America: The First Avenger, just with Peggy in the place of Steve. There were little differences but it was basically the same. This week, we start off with the familiar and from there go in an all new direction.

T’Challa in the Ravagers was great to start with and making him an intergalactic celebrity, something that Quill always wanted, was an even better twist. Making Korath the Pursuer, voiced again by the wonderful Djimon Hounsou, a huge Star-Lord fanboy is funny on a lot of levels. Adding Korath into the Ravagers was cool, but not as cool as the addition of The Mad Titan, Thanos!

Hearing Josh Brolin return to try and explain why his original plan of destroying half the universe had merit only to be rebuffed by his Ravager teammates as it ‘still sounding like gynecide’ was an epic running joke. We meet Nebula, who is so different because of the change in Thanos that it is a bit unsettling. Karen Gillan resumed her role as Nebula. Interestingly enough, we never see Gamora, who in this universe, I assume, is living happily on her home planet which was never destroyed by Thanos. We see Drax the Destroyer (not Dave Bautista, unfortunately) too a much happier version.

Much like the Guardians movie, the crew heads to Knowhere to meet up with Benicio Del Toro’s The Collector, but they had a different mission. The Ravagers had become a force of good, taking from the rich and giving to the poor, much like T’Challa’s earth hero, Robin Leach (errr… Hood, this was a funny joke) and they were after a new MacGuffin. On Knowhere we still meet up with Cosmo, Howard the Duck (Seth Green) and show off the power of The Collector. I assume that there are a bunch of Easter Eggs found in those cages (can’t wait for Erik Voss and the New Rockstars to show me what is there). The Collector is an Elder of the Universe and he showed off his power here.

Of course, Yondu plays a huge part in the story, just as he does in the original GotG. Michael Rooker returned to his role and voiced the Ravager who, in this case, raises T’Challa. However, T’Challa’s natural goodness affected Yondu considerably more. Yondu had ‘outsourced’ the abduction of Peter Quill to the other Ravagers, who wound up taking T’Challa by mistake because all humans look the same. LOL

It is amazing how many huge named stars came to work on What If…? for one line or so. Danai Gurira, Carrie Coon, and Kurt Russell are here with cameos basically. Goes to show the power of Marvel.

What a great episode this was. RIP Chadwick Boseman.

What If…? s1 ep.1

SPOILERS FOR EPISODE ONE OF WHAT IF…?

“What If…Captain Carter were the First Avenger?”

The first animated series from Marvel Studios debuted this morning on Disney + with What If…?, a look at possible alternate timelines had one thing changed. Based on the classic Marvel Comics book What If?, this series has so many potential stories that they can tell that it could be so much fun. I know I loved the What If comic as a youth. It was always one of my favorite ones and adapting it into an animated series gives them an unlimited amount of storytelling avenues.

The episode kicks off with the voice of Jeffrey Wright as our narrator. As in the comic, the narrator of What If…? is Uatu the Watcher. He is a powerful being of the universe whose job is to watch the events unfold without interfering. If you are a comic fan, you know that Uatu did not always live up to that mantra.

Kicking off the series is a twist on the events from Captain America: The First Avenger. The difference is a small one. Peggy Carter, voiced by the always epic Hayley Atwell, decided to stay in the lower area instead of going to the observing room. That triggered a variation of the timeline (thanks to Loki the series, we all understand that) that led to Peggy going into the container instead of Steve Rogers.

The rest of the episode featured Peggy, calling herself Captain Carter, battling Hydra during World War II. Howard Stark gets his hands on the Tesseract and builds Steve Rogers a suit of armor, called Hydra Stomper, allowing him to fight by the side of Captain Carter.

While we did not get Chris Evans returning to voice Steve Rogers, most of the remaining characters had original actors who created their roles in the MCU are doing the voice acting. This episode alone we had Sebastian Stan, Stanley Tucci, Toby Jones, Neal McDonough, Dominic Cooper, Jeremy Renner and Samuel L. Jackson. It is awesome that so many of the originals made it back to voice their characters. Someone like Stanley Tucci came in for what turned out to be like one or two lines in the show.

The animation is special. It is beautifully designed and flowed so easily during the fight scenes that you never think about it being animated. I will say that the characters’ eyes feel slightly off. I heard Animation Writer/EP Michael Vogel from The Geek Buddies describing the reason for the expressions on the faces being odd. He said that usually in animation if you are looking for the best expression, you would make the eyes or the facial features larger. Since the animation in What If is meant to show these characters are they would be in a movie, there is just so much that can be done. It made a lot of sense when Michael explained it and it helped with the one aspect of the animation that I did not find perfect.

The first episode set up the possibility of revisiting this character. I know there have been rumors floating around that we might see Agent Carter in live action some day, perhaps in The Multiverse of Madness. I wonder if this Peggy Carter who made the one decision that changed the timeline was the woman in the background in the Loki premiere.

Marvel Fans Spot Possible Peggy Carter Appearance In Loki Show - The Direct

What If…? is going to be a ten-episode series, and it sounded as if it has been renewed for season two. Now that the multiverse as been opened up, anything can happen. This series has been a great way to kick it off.

Loki Episode 6

SPOILERS FOR SEASON ONE EPISODE SIX OF LOKI

Episode: “For All Time. Always”

Loki has come to an end in an episode that shook me to the core. I had no idea where they were going to go with the story and when it was revealed, I was utterly shocked.

The normal Marvel Studios title card was different. Instead of the Marvel fanfare they always play, we hear voices…lines from the MCU. We hear Cap, Vision, Captain Marvel, and a bunch of others as the camera pans across the universe and we end at the sacred timeline.

Loki and Sylvie are at the castle at the end of time, ready to kill the person behind the TVA, the man behind the curtain, if you will.

And when Miss Minutes popped up out of nowhere, I legit jumped. Then, she was sinister as could be.

I had dismissed the idea of Kang the Conqueror. Sure, there were a ton of Easter eggs that seemingly were pointing to Kang, but I was sure that the ending would be a Loki variant as He Who Remains. I thought Richard Grant would be your answer. Or King Loki from the trailers. I felt that by introducing Kang, they would not be paying off the threads of the entire series that they have been building toward since episode one.

Then, the door opened…and there he was.

Jonathan Majors had been cast as Kang the Conqueror for Antman and the Wasp: Quantumania and when that door opened and Majors sat before them, I shout that they were doing Kang. I really did not believe it was going to happen. Majors, dressed in Kang’s green and purple iconic clothes, immediately began chewing the scenery and any concerns I had went away.

Let me touch on this now, because the arrival of Kang did not affect the story arc of Loki, it just readjusted it. I felt as if Loki needed to confront an evil Loki as the man behind the curtain to complete the arc. Instead, what he does to complete the arc is confront Sylvie. Their debate showed the wrap up of the story, one we did not really know we were following. Loki realizes that he cannot be trusted and that Sylvie did not trust him- and was not capable of trust. So when Kang presented them with an option, a choice that he did not already know the outcome, it played on both of their arcs. The writing here was sublime and masterfully brought it all back to Loki and Sylvie while introducing to the MCU audience the next big bad of the franchise.

I have been a supporter of the Loki/Sylvie relationship since it was starting to look that way, but I have to say that the kiss felt awkward and somewhat …yuck for the lack of a better term. Having that kiss be the trigger to the final decision was a blow to Loki. He had been building up to tell Sylvie how he felt about her, and she prioritized something else instead. Sylvie was not ready to put aside her life’s work to accept the temptations presented by Kang.

When she shoves Loki back through the time door, we could tell what was going to happen. I mean, we all knew that this was the path, right? We knew the sacred timeline was going to unravel in this show considering all the Spider-Man: No Way Home stuff with the other timeline villains and the rumors of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s inclusion in the movie plus the Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness movie and the next series What If…? all depending on their being a multiverse. Still, seeing it happen was something to behold.

Then, the show tossed in the old ‘Planet of the Apes’ ending that caused a ton of emotions. When Mobius says to Loki, “What’s your name?” I thought I might break. Then, there was the statue of Kang, front and center.

When the black scene came after this image, it was nearly a crushing blow. Leaving the show with this uncertainty at the end with Loki and Mobius broken and Loki, once again, all alone, which was his greatest fear, everything was made up for in the mid-credit scene when Marvel officially announced that…

This finale was not at all what I expected. It was unlike any other Marvel finale in that it was more of a debate, a morale decision that placed our heroes on opposite ends and placed the entire MCU in its path. They say how the MCU will be changed forever a lot of times, but you cannot deny that this episode changed the MCU moving forward.

I loved this series. Where does it fall among the others? That is hard to say. I think it may be just behind WandaVision, but not by much and after I let it digest some more, it may surpass it.

Next up: Starting August 11… What If…?