It’s hard to know, as we officially start our new year, where the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be at the end of 2024. Given that 2023 was a very inconsistent year, with Phase 5 starting in a lackluster way, with only one of the MCU films making a significant profit, Guardians of the Galaxy 3, and the whole Jonathan Majors scenario that only made things more confusing. If it wasn’t for Loki Season 2 (read my review), it would’ve been easy to label the year as a whole a failure. But as my What If…? Season 2 Review will show, Loki did have some good company on the TV side of things.
Before we go on to the actual review, if you haven’t seen the show, you may want to go back and do so. Major Spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned!
The show’s concept hasn’t changed, and that’s for the better in this case. The Watcher (still watching and narrating) has more stories to tell throughout the Marvel multiverse, and the concept is always about key events being changed “just slightly enough” to invoke new stories to be told. Throughout the nine-episode season, we saw old friends, new faces from the later phases appearing, and even the birth of a brand-new Marvel hero that I pray gets more use going forward. She’s great, and so is Captain Carter…if the review’s subtitle wasn’t a big enough hint.
The first thing I want to praise in my What If…? Season 2 Review is the writing team. They clearly had a blast crafting these stories and bringing together characters you might not have expected to create fun results. They proved that in the first episode with their “Bladerunner Tribute” featuring Nebula and the Nova Corps. The second episode did just as cool a thing with their “80s Avengers,” which featured some surprising choices that I really liked (for the most part.) When you combine that with other unique tales, like Hela and Wenwu meeting up and fighting Odin together, you get a set of stories that you can’t help but smile about most of the time.
Whether paying homage to classic movies, making something they felt was unique, or a “fun twist” on one of the previous MCU movies, it worked out well. While I didn’t review Season 1, I wasn’t the biggest fan of it because some of the episodes were REALLY inconsistent. When they shined, they SHINED. But other times (including the finale, in my opinion,) they were a bit of a letdown.
But for Season 2? They crushed it, and I’d go as far as to say that there wasn’t a bad episode in the bunch. You know, outside of some small issues within each one, no episode was perfect. Well…there was ONE I thought was perfect…
Yep. It’s the Kahhori episode. This was easily the “biggest swing” for the writers because they not only had just 30 minutes to create a meaningful Marvel character…but they had to make us care about her. And guess what? They did! Kahhori was cool and paid so much respect to the Native American/First Nations tribes, and the writers even consulted with them when making her character! They spoke their language throughout the episode until the final scenes, which I thought was really meaningful. Plus, her story felt so pure and honest and a “What If…?” scenario that you can’t help but sympathize with, given how things went in our world.
Plus, she DOES tie into the MCU meaningfully, which made her all the more impressive. So, seeing her and Captain Carter save the multiverse together? Yeah, that was pretty sweet.
Speaking of Peggy, she was the MVP of the season and had multiple episodes dedicated to her story. Hayley Atwell once again delivered (and proved why THIS is the definitive “Captain Carter” and not what we got in Multiverse of Madness) and showed many sides to Peggy, from confidence to heartbreak. Oh, and someone who appreciates a good single malt despite it being 1602.
I’ve seen there’s been some weird discourse about Captain Carter and her portrayal, mainly from fools who don’t like strong women. Get off your ignorant high horses and enjoy the show! Peggy was great and downright inspiring despite everything she’s gone through. You could even argue that she’s a purer soul than MCU Steve Rogers, and I would be on Captain Carter’s side for that argument.
It should also be noted that the animation looked incredible and tight 95% of the time. Yes, some “oddities” popped up here and there, but pretty much everything translated well to the animated setting. Plus, the animation team got to do big battles and fun reveals, change lore at times, and showcase their skills in unexpected genres and ways.
Now we get to the part in my What If…? Season 2 Review where I sadly must talk about what I didn’t like. And while it was “small stuff” overall, it does add up in the end. For example, the “Tony Stark/Grandmaster” episode was visually clever with the chariot races. Still, it didn’t really highlight WHY Gamora (WHY IS GAMORA?!?!?) was chosen by The Watcher in the Season 1 Finale. She was just kind of…there…and yet she gets the nod because of an Infinity Stone machine she didn’t even have in the S2 episode? Plus, Korg is the worst…seriously…go away, Korg.
Again, while there weren’t any “bad episodes,” I maintain that there are some that will be “hit-or-miss” because of the content and focus, such as the “Die Hard Happy Hogan” episode, which I felt could’ve been replaced with something else. Many will like it, but it was decent for me.
Another issue is that many of these plots sometimes hinged on characters acting well outside their scope or very obvious plot holes not being addressed. The Gamora/Tony episode had multiple ones, as did the Nebula episode, the Hela episode, and (once again) the finale episode via some of the stuff that happened with Carter/Kahhori/Strange.
Plus, on a smaller note, while MANY of the MCU actors came back to voice their characters, others didn’t…and it definitely showed at times.
Even with that, What If…? Season 2 was a very fun romp through the multiversal MCU, and many hope that these stories’ quality and uniqueness continue. I enjoyed my time with your tales, Watcher. What else have you to show me?
Marvel’s “What If…? Season 2” is streaming on Disney Plus.
What If...? Season 2 Review
What If…? Season 2 shined consistently throughout each episode. Even the ones that were “lesser” had some fun twists that proved the writing and animation team had a blast putting everything together. The MCU as a whole might be stuttering, but this show proves there’s still fun to be had.
- Fun Stories
- Arguably Much Bolder Than Season 1
- Captain Carter
- Some Episodes Are A Little “Meh”
- Stories Can Be Stretched Thin Logically
- Some Voicing Doesn’t Hold Up To Main MCU Actors
- What If...? Season 2 Review