Review: 'What If...?' Season Two
Review by Philip Clark
After the massive success of the first season, Marvel announced a second set of stories for their animated What If...? show. Now, if you're unfamiliar with the premise of the series, Marvel takes ideas with the multiverse under the supervision of The Watcher, and poses the question "What If?".
The Watcher (Uatu) is an interdimensional being of incredible power. He narrates the show; giving a brief introduction of what we'll find in each episode. The question has given us answers to questions such as; What if Peggy Carter gained Captain America's abilities, or if T'Challa became Star Lord, or even if Ultron took over Vision's body wielding the Infinity Stones.
The first season ended with a climactic battle with The Guardians of the Universe against the aforementioned Infinity Stones-wielding Ultron. Throughout the season, we were treated to situations like the Marvel universe being turned into zombies, so you can imagine the excitement that season two held.
Plot - 8/10
The season itself is broken into nine episodes, each with its own story. The majority of the tales are genius ideas, executed really well. The season starts off strong with "What If... Nebula Joined the Nova Corps" as the first episode. Without giving away any spoilers, the episode's written and shot similarly to a gritty detective movie. Nebula's been one of my favorite characters in the MCU since her introduction, so seeing her as the lead character in her very own episode really piqued my interest what was to come next.
The main difference between the first season and this one is that each episode in the first season intertwined with each other. You felt like it was building to something climactic. With this season, however, every episode's so obviously separate that it didn't feel like a climax was coming. That is until episode six, with the return of Heartless Strange; a previous Guardian of the Universe.
Episode six also introduces an original character to the universe; Kahhori. I'll go a little more in-depth into her character in the next section, but the plot of this episode is possibly one of this season's finest. It's simple in its creation, with a group of indigenous people being attacked by invaders. She's a member of this group, who gains mystical powers and leads a revolution. Freeing her kin, Kahhori becomes a hero that the multiverse should take notice of. Which it does with the arrival of Heartless Strange.
Characters - 9/10
This season has a few reoccurring characters, namely Heartless Strange, The Watcher and Captain Carter; who the second season seems to follow more than any other hero. It's a Marvel product, with Marvel characters, so really you already know what to expect. There are a couple of stand out variations; the Nova Corps Nebula and Hela are my two standout main characters as their episodes and character depictions are perfectly written for them and the actors deliver with everything they have.
There are a lot of groups, and team-ups in these episodes, my favourite being Captain Carter with Widow, in episode five. The pair have a similar relationship to the one we saw with Widow and Cap in Winter Soldier, which was one of the highlights of the movie. I also really enjoyed watching Tony interact with Korg, Valkyrie and Gamora in episode four. As you can imagine, it was comedy abound and an all round interesting dynamic to watch.
Now comes the new and interesting character of Kahhori. She's wild, adventurous, kind, brave and fearless; and that's without her powers. Within the first few minutes of her episode we're given a really good indication of her character, as she interacts with her younger brother. She then manages to meet a group of her people that were living their best life in a different world and rally them into protecting her tribe from a group of invaders.
The returning characters of The Watcher, Heartless Strange and Captain Carter are all back to their best, too. Carter appears in a few episodes and is arguably the focal point of this season, she's also one of the best. Diving deeper into her character really shows that she and Steve are cut from the same cloth.
Overall, this was a really solid second season of the Marvel animated show. I personally prefer the story we got in season one, but the characters of season two feel stronger. The third season has already been gren-lit, according to Wikipedia, so I'm excited to see what that has to offer.
This season started off really strong with the first episode and never really slowed down all that much. There were a couple of episodes that, personally, fell a little short, or could've been reshuffled into a different order. There are also a few episodes I'd like to be expanded upon, as I'd love to explore more of the 1602 universe!