The central vision for the Thor movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has changed a lot since the character was introduced in his first blockbuster back in 2011. While comedy has always been a part of the formula (from the God of Thunder smashing his coffee cup and demanding another in his debut solo movie, to him riding the London Tube in the sequel), the franchise has really stepped on the gas with that side of the hero in the last few years. As such, it isn’t the least surprising at all that the What If episode centered around the powerful Avenger is the funniest chapter we’ve seen yet from the Disney+ original series.
We’ve seen a few parties play out in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (the celebration in Avengers: Age Of Ultron immediately springs to mind), but there have been none like the one that is instigated in What If Episode 7. It’s overall one of many deviations from the main MCU that are featured in the story, but, as per usual, I will kick things off highlighting the coolest changes by first pointing at the big one that eventually causes everything to be radically different.
Odin Doesn’t Kidnap Loki, And Thor Grows Up An Only Child
In case it hasn’t been driven home enough, Odin did some remarkably terrible things during his time as the King of Asgard – and while most of those things fall under the category “waging bloody war across the universe,” what he did in the case of Loki was a special kind of terrible. I shouldn’t have to say this, but it’s a pretty rotten thing to kidnap the child of an enemy and raise them as your own. At the very least, however, that is a sin that Odin winds up reversing at the start of the latest What If, as the whole story begins with the idea of Thor being raised as an only child.
In the main reality of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor and Loki had a tumultuous upbringing together – not only splitting attention from their parents, but causing each other grief whenever the opportunity arose. As we learn in the latest chapter of the newest Disney+ original, it turns out that this sibling rivalry, this was actually a very good thing for the God of Thunder in terms of shaping his character. Without the presence of his mischief-causing brother, Thor is a bit more foolhardy, and it creates issues that extend far beyond Asgard. And as for Loki, he grows into being both a full-fledged Frost Giant!
Thor Lands And Meets Jane Foster in Las Vegas Instead Of New Mexico
Given that the newest What If is a riff on Kenneth Branagh’s Thor, it makes all the sense in the world that it kicks off very similarly to the movie – namely by finding Jane Foster and Darcy Lewis doing research together in a camper parked in the middle of the New Mexico desert. That being said, it doesn’t take long for the show to start going along its own path, primarily because Jane has unknowingly been tracking Thor’s party behavior around the universe. This alteration continues when the Asgardian prince actually arrives on Earth/Midgard, as he doesn’t end up landing right next to Jane’s camper, but instead heads straight for Las Vegas.
Thor’s new party-centric attitude definitely makes Sin City the ideal landing zone – and while his arrival at first freaks out all of the locals/tourists, it doesn’t take long at all for them to accept him as their new Party Prince.
Howard The Duck And Darcy Lewis Get Married
We haven’t seen a great deal of Howard The Duck in the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, as his appearances have been limited to cameos in Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Avengers: Endgame – but in the last few weeks he has had some great surprise roles on What If. In Episode 2 of the Disney+ show we got to see him hang out with Star-Lord T’Challa a bit, and in “What If… Thor Were An Only Child?” he actually gets hitched to one of the franchise’s fan-favorite characters.
Not only is Darcy Lewis completely unfazed by the idea of there being aliens who are anthropomorphic ducks, she winds of marrying Howard after just one night of extreme partying in Las Vegas. It’s not a super formal affair, as Darcy doesn’t even take off her coat for the Elvis impersonator-led ceremony let alone wear a special dress, but it definitely is an event that fits the larger tone of the story.
Korg Puts Nick Fury Out Of Commission, Putting Maria Hill In Charge Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
In the last seven weeks, one key way that What If has differentiated its storytelling from the majority of Marvel movies is by treating the headlining heroes as disposable. The live-action side of the franchise can’t kill off key protagonists because that takes away the option of continuing to use them in future movies, but that restriction is off the table when it comes to animation and alternate realities. Noticeably, “What If… Thor Were An Only Child?” is one of the few chapters thus far in the Disney+ series that doesn’t feature a notable character meeting a terrible end – but we do get to see Nick Fury get totally creamed.
While the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. got to be the big savior in “What If… The World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?” he is rendered into a funny punchline in the latest episode of What If. On duty, Fury makes a strong effort to get inside of Thor’s Vegas party, but he is unfortunately blindsided by a sprinting, inobservant Korg looking to make a big splash in a pool.
Captain Marvel Gets Summoned Early
In Captain Marvel, it’s established in the continuity that Nick Fury came into possession of a pager in the early 1990s that would contact Carol Danvers in the event of a world-ending catastrophe. Based on everything that happens after that point, however, there is a very real suggestion that he views it as a last resort option. There are certainly times when he could have employed it, such as when Loki was opening portals above New York City and Ultron was trying to eradicate the human race, but he opted not to.
As seen in What If, however, Maria Hill is definitely not Nick Fury, and she doesn’t hesitate at all to call Captain Marvel for help when dealing with Thor: The Party Prince. It’s a bit surprising, as you don’t really think of the Asgardian really being that big of a threat, but it does turn out to be the right move, as Carol Danvers does a pretty damn good job putting a whupping on Thor while Jane goes on a cosmic journey to find Frigga.
The World Gets Invaded By A Vision/Ultron Hybrid With All The Infinity Stones
Being an otherworldly being with incredible power, The Watcher is not a character that one can get the drop on easily – which makes the ending of the latest What If episode pretty extraordinary. For a very brief moment it appears as though the chapter is going to be different from its predecessors by literally featuring a “happily ever after” conclusion, but that optimistic illusion is utterly shattered by what transpires in the final seconds of the show.
With no setup whatsoever, the latest episode of What If concludes with an army of Ultron robots appearing out of thin air – and while that idea is scary enough, it doesn’t come close to touching on what they are guarding. We can’t say this with absolute certainty, but what is leading the group of androids appears to be Vision wearing Ultron Prime-themed armor that is imbued with the power of all six Infinity Stones. This definitely seems like it is a setup for some kind of conclusion that ties the whole series together, but where it’s actually going is something we are totally in the dark about at this point.
What will come of that major villain reveal at the end of “What If… Thor Were An Only Child?” At the moment we have no idea, but we are certainly excited to find out. There are only two episodes of the animated Marvel Cinematic Universe series left, and the next chapter will be available to watch on Disney+ next Wednesday, September 29 at midnight PST/3am EST. After you check it out, be sure to come back here to CinemaBlend to find my latest recap.
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NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.