Thursday, October 7, 2021

“WHAT IF…?” Season FINALE as GRAND and EPIC as Expected

 


The end has come. Or it would, now that the omnicidal AI Ultron and its army of android drones empowered by the Infinity Stones have begun scouring multiple universes of life, as in the penultimate episode of Marvel Studios’ “What If…?” Things have gotten to the point that Ultron has reached awareness above the multiverse and tried to kill the Watcher (Jeffrey Wright), the cosmic being observing the alternate timelines of the MCU that were the focus of this animated anthology. The Watcher insists that he can only watch and not interfere, but Ultron does not care. What now, then?

Well, as the title of the final episode of “What If…?” on Disney+ goes, we must now ponder the question of “What If…the Watcher Broke His Oath?” The Watcher as of the original Marvel Comics was supposed to be a neutral observer of happenings in the various universes where versions of Marvel characters exists, but without doing anything to interrupt or change the course of the events they are watching. Meta-wise, the Watcher stands for the comic-book reader, who might at different times wanted to control the narrative to a desired outcome. Several Marvel story arcs have touched on the Watchers interfering in the Marvel universes. This is no different.

Faced with the overwhelming might of Infinity Ultron, the Watcher assembles champions from the various alternate universes he had observed, to form the Guardians of the Multiverse. From Captain Carter, to Star-Lord T’Challa, Party Thor, even Black Panther Killmonger and Strange Supreme, this hastily-assembled ensemble are tasked by the Watcher to confront Ultron before he completes his purging of life from everywhere. But is this going to work like with the Avengers of the (former) Sacred Timeline of the MCU? The answer is so brilliant, we hate to spoil it.

Ah, if you did watch this final episode of “What If…?” you are asking me now: did I not leave out one character? Yes, I have. Another member of the Watcher’s Guardians, and one that came out of nowhere, is a version of Gamora from Sakaar, whom the Watcher describes as having killed the Thanos and destroyed the Infinity Stones of her native universe with the help of Tony Stark. Her related episode was actually part of the original 10-episode inaugural season. Pandemic difficulties delayed its production to the point that Marvel Studios packaged it with the in-development season 2 instead. It even got a tie-in LEGO set despite that.

Being the season finale, it is expected that the visuals, storytelling and stakes will be as high as this show could go, and the animation units Marvel Studios employed did not disappoint. The action sequences are mind-blowing, and the voice acting – particularly of the MCU veterans like Chris Hemsworth, Hayley Atwell, Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael B. Jordan are spot-on. And indeed, this is the very last we will ever hear of the late Chadwick Boseman as T’Chala in the MCU. His swan could not have been any better than this.

Now, the MCU on Disney+ will return to its “regular” live-action programming with “Hawkeye” starring Jeremy Renner and Hailee Steinfeld premiering late next month. But already work on a second season for “What If…?” is ongoing. If the pandemic production delays are not as severe as with the first one, the anthology could return as early as 2022. Viewers could get to see then what the deal with Gamora the Thanos-slayer is, among other new what-if scenarios for the Watcher and the “watchers” to enjoy; until the multiverse returns anew.

Image from MCU Fandom Wiki

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