Marvel Studios’ What If…? Season One has come to an end so here are all nine Marvel What If episodes ranked from worst to best.
Marvel What If season one is officially wrapped. With just nine episodes instead of the originally planned ten, it still comes together in a neat little bow as someone from each previous episode joins in the fight against a dimension-hopping Ultron.
Many of the Marvel Cinematic Universe live action actors reprised their roles as the voices of their characters in this animated series, and many of them did not. That didn’t have an effect on the overall show for me, but I know a lot of fans said it ruined their experience.
Marvel Studios’ What If Episodes Ranked
Some of these episodes felt like they were being too safe, while others feel like they really went out there and took a risk. Here is my personal opinion of the Marvel What If episodes ranked.
WARNING: THERE ARE SPOILERS FOR ALL WHAT IF EPISODES AHEAD!
9 – What If… Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?
In Afghanistan, Tony Stark is ambushed by the Ten Rings, but is saved by Erik “Killmonger” Stevens. They return to Stark Industries, where Killmonger exposes Obadiah Stane’s involvement in the ambush before helping Stark build a humanoid combat drone using vibranium. Needing more vibranium to create a drone army, they arrange for James Rhodes to purchase it from Ulysses Klaue. At Killmonger’s behest, Klaue leaks word of the transaction to Wakanda to lure in T’Challa.
Killmonger kills both T’Challa and Rhodes, staging it as if they killed each other. Stark confronts Killmonger, but Killmonger kills him and makes it look like a Wakandan attack. Killmonger then kills Klaue and reunites with his relatives in Wakanda. Thaddeus Ross sends the drone army to attack Wakanda, but Killmonger helps the Wakandans stop them, becoming the new Black Panther.
As the United States plans another attack, T’Challa’s sister Shuri visits Pepper Potts, who was suspicious of Killmonger, and proposes an alliance to expose the truth.
8 – What If… Captain Carter Were The First Avenger?
During World War II, Steve Rogers is chosen to become the world’s first super-soldier, but is wounded by a Hydra spy before he can receive the super-soldier serum. SSR agent Peggy Carter kills the spy and receives the serum instead. She is enhanced but banned from combat by SSR leader John Flynn. After she takes the Tesseract from Hydra with a vibranium shield created by inventor Howard Stark, Flynn reluctantly promotes her to the combat role of “Captain Carter”.
Stark uses the Tesseract to create a weaponized, armored suit for Rogers to pilot as the “Hydra Stomper”. Carter and Rogers fight many battles until he goes missing while attacking a Hydra train. Carter and her allies find Rogers when they infiltrate a Hydra base and see Red Skull using the Tesseract to open a portal and summon an interdimensional creature, which kills him. Carter enters the closing portal to force the creature back. Almost 70 years later, the Tesseract opens another portal from which Carter emerges, meeting Nick Fury and Clint Barton.
7 – What If… the World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?
Over the course of a week, S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury attempts to recruit heroes for the Avengers Initiative but they are each mysteriously killed: Natasha Romanoff injects Tony Stark with an unexpectedly fatal injection, Clint Barton accidentally shoots and kills Thor before dying in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, Bruce Banner / Hulk explodes, and Romanoff is attacked and killed while investigating the other murders; before she dies, Romanoff tells Fury that the murders are related to “hope”.
The Asgardians, led by Loki, arrive on Earth to avenge Thor; Fury proposes an alliance to apprehend the killer. Fury deduces that Hank Pym is the murderer and has been using his shrinking technology to commit the murders as revenge for the death of his daughter, Hope van Dyne, who died in the line of duty as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Fury and Loki defeat Pym, who is taken into Asgardian custody. Loki chooses to stay on Earth, becoming its ruler. Fury begins assembling more heroes, finding Steve Rogers frozen in ice and summoning Carol Danvers to Earth.
6 – What If… Thor Were an Only Child?
After defeating the Frost Giants, Odin discovers the abandoned infant Loki and returns him to Laufey. Centuries later, Odin’s only son Thor has become a boisterous, party-loving prince. While Odin sleeps and Frigga is away, Thor travels to Earth to host a large party with aliens from across the universe.
His arrival attracts the attention of Jane Foster and Darcy Lewis, who join the party. As Thor and Foster grow close, acting S.H.I.E.L.D. director Maria Hill summons Carol Danvers to end the destruction caused by Thor’s antics. Danvers is unable to defeat Thor without exerting her full power, so Lewis and Hill suggest she take the fight to a less populated area, while Foster contacts Frigga with Heimdall’s help. Hill readies a nuclear strike as Danvers and Thor begin to battle again, but Frigga contacts them and says she is coming. Thor and the party-goers clean up the mess before she arrives.
Later, Thor asks Foster out on a date but is interrupted by an army of drones led by Ultron, who is in Vision’s body and possesses all six Infinity Stones.
5 – What If… T’Challa Became Star-Lord?
In 1988, the Ravagers are sent to Earth by the Celestial Ego to retrieve his son Peter Quill, but mistakenly abduct a young T’Challa from Wakanda. 20 years later, T’Challa has become the famous intergalactic mercenary “Star-Lord”, and has been convinced by Ravager leader Yondu Udonta that Wakanda was destroyed. Nebula approaches the Ravagers and proposes to steal the Embers of Genesis, a cosmic artifact capable of eradicating galactic hunger, from galactic kingpin Taneleer Tivan.
At Tivan’s headquarters on Knowhere, they offer him the Power Stone as a distraction. At the same time, T’Challa looks for the Embers, but he finds a Wakandan spacecraft that was searching for him. Nebula seemingly betrays the Ravagers, who are captured, but this is another ruse to obtain the Embers. Tivan’s slave Carina rescues T’Challa and helps the Ravagers defeat Tivan. T’Challa forgives Udonta for lying about Wakanda, and they return there so T’Challa can reunite with his family. Elsewhere, Ego approaches Quill, a Dairy Queen janitor.
4 – What If… Zombies?
In the Quantum Realm, Hank Pym finds Janet van Dyne and she infects him with a quantum virus. They return to Earth and cause a zombie apocalypse. Two weeks later, a group of survivors—Bruce Banner, Hope van Dyne, Peter Parker, the Cloak of Levitation, Bucky Barnes, Okoye, Sharon Carter, Happy Hogan, and Kurt—learn there is a potential cure at Camp Lehigh.
They lose Hogan, Carter, and Hope to zombie attacks on the way there, where they meet Vision. His Mind Stone can reverse the virus, exemplified by a cured Scott Lang’s head kept alive in a jar, but an infected Wanda Maximoff is immune to the cure and Vision has been feeding pieces of T’Challa to her.
Maximoff breaks free and kills Kurt, Okoye, and Barnes. Vision commits suicide to give the Mind Stone to Parker. Banner transforms into the Hulk and sacrifices himself to battle Maximoff, allowing the others to escape. To broadcast the Mind Stone’s energy across the world, Parker, Lang, T’Challa, and the Cloak go to Wakanda, where a zombified Thanos wields a nearly-complete Infinity Gauntlet.
3 – What If… Ultron Won?
Ultron, having taken the Mind Stone and Vision’s vibranium body, has defeated the Avengers and launched a global nuclear holocaust, killing most of humanity. When Thanos appears on Earth to complete the Infinity Gauntlet, Ultron bisects him and takes the rest of the Infinity Stones, using them to create a massive drone army with which he wipes out almost all life in his universe.
Ultron then hears the Watcher, discovering the existence of the multiverse, and attacks the Watcher in his multiversal observatory. Meanwhile, Clint Barton and Natasha Romanoff survive Ultron’s attacks and find a copy of Arnim Zola’s consciousness in Siberia. They upload Zola into a drone body to try to destroy Ultron’s hive mind, but this attempt fails because Ultron has left their universe.
Barton sacrifices himself to allow Romanoff and Zola to escape from other drones. Ultron battles the Watcher across different universes and defeats him. The Watcher flees to Strange Supreme’s collapsed universe to ask him for help while Ultron plans to conquer the multiverse.
2 – What If… The Watcher Broke His Oath?
Continuing from the last episode, The Watcher recruits Captain Carter, Star-Lord T’Challa, Party Thor, Black Panther Killmonger, and a variant of Gamora who killed Thanos[a] from their respective universes, and along with Strange Supreme, establishes the Guardians of the Multiverse to battle Ultron. The team goes to an uninhabited universe to prepare for battle, but Thor accidentally draws Ultron’s attention.
A battle ensues in which T’Challa steals the Soul Stone from Ultron, and the team escapes to Ultron’s home universe, where they are joined by Natasha Romanoff. Ultron battles the Guardians and overpowers them, until Romanoff, with Carter’s help, shoots Ultron with an arrow containing Zola’s mind. Zola wipes Ultron from the inside, while Killmonger takes the Stones. Zola, now controlling Ultron’s body, fights Killmonger for the Stones, until both are frozen in a pocket dimension by Strange Supreme and the Watcher.
Strange Supreme returns to his collapsed universe to guard Zola and Killmonger, while the Watcher returns each Guardian to their own universe, except for Romanoff, whom he brings to the universe where Hank Pym murdered the Avengers, where she stabs Loki with his own staff. In a mid-credits scene, Carter and her universe’s Romanoff discover the Hydra Stomper armor, with someone contained inside.
1 – What If… Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?
After losing his girlfriend Dr. Christine Palmer in a car crash, Dr. Stephen Strange travels to Kamar-Taj and learns the Mystic Arts. He discovers the Eye of Agamotto, which can manipulate time, but is warned by the Ancient One and Wong that doing so could destroy reality. Two years later, Strange repeatedly attempts to use the Eye to save Palmer, but she still dies in every scenario. The Ancient One tells Strange that Palmer’s death is an “absolute point” in the timeline that cannot be undone, but Strange refuses to listen.
Using the power of the Dark Dimension, the Ancient One splits Strange into two alternate versions: one Strange accepts Palmer’s death while the other gains power by absorbing mystical beings, becoming Strange Supreme. This evil version overpowers the good Strange, absorbs him, and uses his power to resurrect Palmer, tearing reality apart. Strange Supreme begs the Watcher for help, but he refuses to intervene. Palmer disintegrates and the universe collapses, leaving Strange Supreme to grieve alone.
About Marvel’s What If…?
“What If…?” flips the script on the MCU, reimagining famous events from the films in unexpected ways. Marvel Studios’ first animated series focuses on different heroes from the MCU, featuring a voice cast that includes a host of stars who reprise their roles. The series is directed by Bryan Andrews; AC Bradley is head writer.
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Tessa Smith is a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved Film and TV Critic. She is also a Freelance Writer. Tessa has been in the Entertainment writing business for almost ten years and is a member of several Critics Associations including the Hollywood Critics Association and the Greater Western New York Film Critics Association.