The second season of Marvel Studios canonical animated adventure, What If…?, took viewers on another trip around the Multiverse, exploring alternate realities where things play out a little–or a lot–differently than on the Scared Timeline. Marvel’s second go-round with the idea produced a stronger season overall, though occasionally the creators weren’t quite as far “out of the box” as they could have been. With all 9 episodes now streaming on Disney Plus, we took a stab at ranking them all…
9. What If…Captain Carter Fought the Hydra Stomper?
Unfortunately, like its predecessor from Season 1, “What If…Captain Carter Fought the Hydra Stomper?” fails to diverge enough from the film that inspired it. While there were a few changes, including having the Red Room play a role in the episode, it’s still just Captain America: The Winter Soldier but with Peggy in Steve’s boots. Peggy’s given much more to do in the two-part season finale and the character would be better served with more original ideas. Let’s hope we don’t have to see “What If…Captain Carter Started a Civil War?” in Season 3.
8. What If…Strange Supreme Intervened?
“What If…Strange Supreme Intervened?” featured some really cool concepts. The multiversal Sanctum Infinitum. Universe Killers. The Forge. However, the concepts fell victim to lackluster execution and the Universe Killers turned out to be a bunch of characters we’ve all seen before. While this episode certainly feels like a little preview into how Avengers: Secret Wars might adapt the Battleworld concept into the MCU, here’s to hoping Michael Waldron’s script includes at least a couple of characters we haven’t already spent a bunch of time with. Please, stop including the Black Order in things.
7. What If…Nebula Joined the Nova Corps?
Marvel’s film noir episode, the heavy-handed Blade Runner vibes in “What If…Nebula Joined the Nova Corps?” hide some of the blemishes present in the story itself. With the opportunity to diverge entirely from James Gunn‘s Nova Corps mall cops and create something more aligned with the comics, the episode sails along in mediocrity with half-baked ideas. No episode of the season has a more “could, woulda, shoulda” feel than this.
6. What If…Iron Man Crashed Into the Grandmaster?
The “Lost Gamora” episode of Season 1 made its long-awaited debut and did not disappoint. Part The Running Man and part Death Race, the episode reminds the audience that no matter where he is in the Multiverse, Tony Stark is a force to be reckoned with and one of the MCU’s true heroes. It could have benefited from straying a little further from the events of Thor: Ragnarok but it still landed well.
5. What If…The Avengers Assembled in 1602?
As the creators of the episode pointed out, sometimes a story just needs to be fun. And there’s no doubt that “What If…The Avengers Assembled in 1602?” is a lot of fun. It’s fun because the voice cast is having fun–Jon Favreau really leaned into Sir Harold “The Happy” Hogan and Paul Rudd is always a treat–and because it features some great moments. It lacks the bigger bang of the 2003 Neil Gaiman limited series that inspired it but that may boil down to the inability to include some of the characters and ideas explored there. Still, it’s entertaining and gave a little more insight into the idea of Incursions, reminding us of the possibility that any of these realities–and the characters that inhabit them–could return down the road.
4. What If…Peter Quill Attacked Earth’s Mightiest Heroes?
Alternatively titled “What If…Yondu Did the Job Ego Hired Him For?”, this episode takes a pretty sweet left turn and explores an alternate reality where there came a day unlike any other when Earth’s mightiest heroes found themselves united against a common threat. The all-new, all-different Avengers that assemble in the episode are a fun gang (it’s great to see Bill Foster and hear Lawrence Fishburn!) and there’s a wonderful theme present about the true nature of a hero, in this cast Peter Quill. While you could call into question why some of the characters were included at all–will Marvel Studios ever tell a cool Mar-Vell story?–this is a great example of the type of stories What If…? can deliever.
3. What If…Happy Hogan Saved Christmas?
If “What If…Strange Supreme Intervened?” is an example of an episode with a great concept that didn’t work well in execution, “What If…Happy Hogan Saved Christmas?” is an example of an episode with a ridiculous concept that was executed to perfection. There’s no reason this episode should have worked as well as it did…but it did and it was a blast. Favreau’s willingness to go all in on the crazy as The Freak deserves praise as does the work done by Sam Rockwell in his return as Justin Hammer.
2. What If…Hela Found the Ten Rings?
It’s hard to imagine how an episode like “What If…Captain Carter Fought the Hydra Stomper?” can exist in the same season as something as creative as “What If…Hela Found the Ten Rings?”. It’s especially hard when the beginning of the episode seems to be stepping in the same wrong direction of the Carter story by putting Hela in Thor’s unworthy shoes; however, it takes a hard left turn and tells one of the best stories in the anthology to date. It also has produced an alternate reality as different as any the series has created short of the one in which Kahhori lives. This type of story is why the studio should continue to produce more seasons of What If…? but only if they take care to curate them in the way they did here.
1. What If…Kahhori Reshaped the World?
The best episode of the season and of the series to date, “What If…Kahhori Shaped the World?” proves what’s possible when creativity is unleashed. Unrestrained by trying to rhyme with any beats from any particular MCU story before it, the episode introduced the beautiful Mohawk Skyworld, explored the nature of the power of the Space Stone and gave the MCU its first original hero in Wolf Clan member Kahhori. With another season of What If…? on the docket, here’s to hoping the wonderful reception this episode received from fans inspires more stories of its kind.
Two 9-episode seasons of What If…? are now streaming on Disney Plus. Check out our rankings of the first season’s episodes right here!