What If..? has been a fun ride, telling stories that simply wouldn’t fit into the ongoing MCU. The first two episodes were relatively upbeat, but this week’s got a little more somber by asking ‘What If… the World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?’.
This saw all the original Avengers biting the dust. Tony Stark is killed by Black Widow’s injection to cure his Palladium poisoning, Thor is shot by Hawkeye just as he’s about to retrieve Mjolnir, Hulk expands and explodes, Hawkeye just straight-up dies, and Black Widow is beaten to death by an unknown assailant. The culprit? Hank Pym, driven insane by the death of his daughter Hope van Dyne on a S.H.I.E.L.D. operation.
But there’s a cool detail hidden away in that story that most missed. It turns out the mission Hope died on was already known to us, though in the main MCU it was Natasha that was assigned it. What If..? head writer A.C. Bradley gave an interview about the episode and dropped a hint:
“I think it’s still in the final cut of the episode, is there a line that she was killed outside Odessa? Like so many months ago? Yeah, go watch The Winter Soldier. No one’s figured out that Easter egg. I don’t think anyone at Marvel figured out that Easter egg.”
In The Winter Soldier Nat talks about her encounter with the brainwashed Bucky in Odessa, showing a scar on her abdomen where he shot her. She survived, but it seems that when Hope was placed in the same situation she wasn’t so lucky. This is a nice way to tie things back to what we know and proof that the writers really know their MCU lore.
We have some fun stories still left to go. The next episode asks what’d happen if Doctor Strange turned evil, which seems to lead to Spider-Man receiving magical powers. Beyond that, we have an adaptation of Marvel Zombies and a story involving Killmonger. There’s also indications that some of these alternative characters may team up together, though we’re not sure how yet.
Even more positive is that a second season has been confirmed, so we’re getting at least six more episodes. I can’t wait to see what they come up with.
What If..? airs Wednesdays on Disney Plus.