‘What If…?’ Creators on Cate Blanchett’s Return, Hela’s Arc in Episode 7

In the most intriguing episode of What If…? Season 2 to date, Episode 7, “What If…Hela Found the Ten Rings?” explores an alternate path for the Goddess of Death. Rather than imprisoning his daughter in Hel, Odin banishes here to Earth where she meets Xu Wenwu, discovers who she truly is and becomes a champion of peace and freedom across the galaxy. It’s a wonderful episode that fully embraces the true nature of What If…? and as the cherry on top, it’s elevated by Cate Blanchett’s return to the role.

Blanchett drew wide-ranging praise for slaying the role of the deranged and bloodthirsty firstborn of Odin in Thor: Ragnarok and does nothing here other than add to an already great character. As you might imagine, in an animated series where the stars who brought characters such as Captain America, Iron Man and Black Widow to life aren’t part of the voice cast, the creators of What If…? were thrilled to have an actress of Blanchett’s caliber on board. “I mean, we got Cate Blanchett! And she’s amazing.” exclaimed director and executive producer Bryan Andrews when sharing his excitement for the episode.

Andrews’ excitement was shared by Matthew Chauncey, who took over writing duties for the episode. “We’re all such huge fans of her work, obviously, who isn’t?“, asked Chauncey. Chauncey went on to explain that the genesis of the episode came not only from loving what Blanchett’s Hela accomplished in 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok but also from wondering why Odin treated his daughter so much more harshly than his sons.

AC Bradley and I both love Ragnarok and Hela specifically, but something that always
struck us was how her dad did her kind of dirty in that movie compared to how he treated his sons. Think about it: When Thor starts acting a fool in his first movie, Odin sends him on a sort of cosmic time-out to Earth. But his daughter? Nope, he just locks her in Hel for all
eternity and throws away the key. It got us thinking: How much of Hela’s villainy is a product
of her own nature and how much of it was created by the way her father treated her? What
would happen if instead of locking her in Hel, he banished her to Earth to teach her a

Matthew Chanuncy

The result is an episode that creates one arguably the most interesting alternate universes introduced in the animated streaming series. By setting the divergence point one thousand years before Thor’s Sacred Timeline banishment, the episode’s butterfly effect becomes nearly as exciting to ponder as the Asgardian-Ten Rings alliance formed during it.

The first 8 episodes of Season 2 of What If…? are now streaming on Disney Plus with the season finale set to debut at 12 AM PST/3 AM EST.

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