** Warning! This review contains spoilers for episode 5 of Marvel’s What If…? Series **
When Bruce Banner lands in the Sanctum Sanctorum, he finds it empty. When Ebony Maw and Cull Obsidian arrive, Tony, Strange and Wong appear and eat them. Turns out they’re zombies, and Banner can’t turn into Hulk still. Banner is saved by the cape, and Wong is decapitated by one of his own portals. Wasp and Spider-Man also come in and get Banner out of danger.
The zombie virus came from the quantum realm. When Hank Pym went to save his wife Janet, she infected him and they brought the virus back. They get Scott while Janet escapes. The Avengers are sent in when it spreads to the Pacific Northwest, but they get infected as well. Captain America gets bit by a tiny Hank Pym to kick it off.
Our survivors group is Banner, Spider-Man, Bucky, Happy Hogan, Kurt from Ant-Man, Sharon Carter, and Okoye. The group gets a distress beacon from Camp Lehigh in New Jersey and goes to Grand Central Station to take a train there. They split up, and Happy Hogan is zombified by zombie Hawkeye. Sharon Carter manages to escape them. Meanwhile, zombie Falcon attacks Bucky and is cut in half by Okoye. They start the train and are off.
Zombie Captain America attacks the train and gets Sharon. Bucky fights Zombie Cap and cuts him in half with the shield. “Sorry pal, I guess this is the end of the line”. Hope kills Sharon by exploding her, and is infected by an open cut. When the train stops and they are surrounded by zombies, Hope volunteers to sacrifice herself and grows to giant size to deposit the heroes at Camp Lehigh before succumbing to the zombies.
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Vision is there! He’s been keeping the zombies at bay with the Mind Stone because it turns out the zombie infection can be overturned with exposure to it. He tested it and managed to save Scott Lang’s head. Lang is now a head in a jar. They want to broadcast the Mind Stone’s frequency to the world, but the only place with the technology is Wakanda.
Barnes goes looking for transport and finds a trapped zombie Wanda and T’Challa who is down there with an amputated foot. Vision has been keeping people around to feed Wanda! Wanda resists the treatment of the mind stone. She has been awakened, and she is coming to destroy the group and she eats Kurt. Okoye gets caught by Wanda and is taken away. Vision pulls the Mind Stone out of his own head and gives it to the group.
Bucky holds Wanda and gets launched away to his apparent demise. Hulk saves Banner from being bit by Wanda, and then Banner goes Hulk to stall for time for the group. We get a Hulk-Wanda showdown as Scott (moved by the floating cape), Spider-Man & T’Challa escape to Wakanda in the Quadjet. They almost get grabbed by giant zombie Hope but arrive in Wakanda. The show ends with a shot of zombie Thanos with an almost full Infinity Gauntlet, only missing the Mind Stone. Yikes.
I absolutely loved the combination of heroes for the survivors group. Hulk is the only original Avenger in the group, and it had such a rag-tag feel to it. Okoye and Hope worked as the de facto leaders, and the random additions of Sharon Carter and Kurt were great. Peter Parker was a star, and I’m glad he made it to the very end.
The explanation of the zombies was also fantastic. It is another example of love and grief coming back to have dire consequences for the world. That has been a consistent theme of the What If episodes, and it’s great to start putting together narrative threads.
The teaser at the end was excellent. How can just T’Challa and Peter Parker hold off zombie Thanos? Will they have to, or will they get help from some of the other universes we’ve seen in What If?
The Not As Good:
Honestly, this week was another hit. I wished that more female characters were able to survive, as Sharon, Okoye, and Hope all bit the dust from our group of survivors. Aside from that small nitpick, it was an excellent episode and a big departure from the usual Marvel fare.
Three different voice actors get the nod this week. Paul Rudd gets great points for his turn as Scott Lang. He’s got some terrible dad jokes that make for great comic relief. Danai Gurira is excellent as Okoye, and has one of the best lines in the episode. When Peter Parker asks if they have horror movies in Wakanda, she responds: “We don’t need them, we have American reality shows”.
Speaking of Parker, Tom Holland isn’t the voice in What If. Instead, that job is done admirably by Hudson Thames. He does a great job balancing Parker’s optimism and youthful spirit with the difficult feelings of loss he’s experienced. Parker’s the best voice acting in the whole episode, so hats off to Thames.
What If…? has episodes dropping every Wednesday on Disney Plus.
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