Episode 3 of the second season of What If…? was quite the Christmas Eve gift. “What If…Happy Hogan Saved Christmas?” proved to be one of the funniest episodes of the series to date, allowing Jon Favreau‘s sidekick the opportunity to step into the spotlight and Freak out. With an infinite number of potential stories to tell, having Hogan defend Avengers Tower against Justin Hammer probably wasn’t on many peoples’ wish lists; however, it proved to be a worthy inclusion in the anthology. According to series writers Matt Chauncey and AC Bradley, the unlikely story–and its unlikely hero–came out of a desire to put together a holiday special and a request by Favreau.
“AC and I grew up loving all those holiday specials and Christmas episodes that come back on year after year, and I think selfishly, we really just wanted a chance to write one of our own,” said Chauncey. “Something that might have a shot at becoming an annual tradition that gets revisited every holiday season. The challenge and the fun became figuring out who would be the least likely team of would-be heroes to rise up to save the day when the real Avengers are off doing other things,” he added.
“[We’re] creating this sweet, meta-narrative where these characters who usually play the sidekick role in the movies finally get to step into the limelight and be the heroes of the story,” Chauncey continued. “It’s about flipping the script and giving these fan-favorite characters their moment to shine, which also felt like a fitting theme straight out of one of those classic holiday specials we wanted to emulate.”
So how did they land on Happy Hogan? In a serendipitous turn, Favreau had been hoping to have Hogan take center stage in an episode and that gave the writers exactly what they were looking for. “First, let’s all agree that Jon Favreau is just an incredible talent and person. He was awesome when he came in to record for season one,” said Bradley. “Then for season two, he had one request—he wanted to headline own episode! Knowing that Happy Hogan was going to lead the charge on this one, Matt and I had a blast adding in all these Favreau touches.”
Favreau clearly had a blast doing the voice work for Hogan and his alter-ego, the Freak. And as great as he was, the return of Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer, who served as the Hans Gruber to Favreau’s John McClane in the Die Hard riff, put the bow on the wonderful animated gift. New episodes of What If…? will continue to debut daily through December 30th.