Okay, full disclosure, we’re a sucker for “getting the band back together” vibes.
When the full might of the Avengers arrives to back up Cap in Endgame, it rules. When all the badass heroines show up to escort Captain Marvel across the battlefield, the 9-year-old girl inside of us squealed with joy. If there’s anything that Marvel knows how to do well, it’s “getting the band together”.
Which is why it is such a joy to open the season finale of What If, with such a scene. Only this time, it’s the greatest hits of all of the coolest and most fascinating iterations of characters we already thought were cool and fascinating. This is getting the band back together cranked up to eleven.
This convenient plot device also allows us to skip ahead to see the aftermath of previous episodes that we didn’t get to see: Gamora and Stark at the forge, Penny and Shuri being badasses, T’challa rescuing Peter from his father, um…Killmonger?!
All of the outcomes that were so tantalizing to ponder, now laid out before us as part of the new Canon that this season created…and thus, the Guardians of the Multiverse were born.
Now it’s not to say that the episode is without Flaws. There’s a convenient deus ex machina in which an infinity stone crushing device just *happened* to be created in one of these errant, unseen timelines (more on this later), buuuuut, there is just so much fun to be had. C’mon, Dr. Evil-Strange (or is it Dr. Strange-Evil?) opens a portal of super zombies from the sky only to reveal an undead Scarlet Witch! You could almost hear the collective shrieks of happiness in everyone’s homes. In making so many callbacks to previous beloved episodes, Marvel created one massive inside joke with all of their audience, and who doesn’t love being part of a great inside joke?
The game of keep-away may have worn out its welcome a little, after all, like 20 minutes of Endgame is basically one giant game of keep-away. And when it finally seems as if the Guardians have bested the bad guy, SURPRISE! There was no deus ex machina after all! Now our disparate heroes are just as ill-prepared as they ever were…
But wait! The seeds planted in the previous episode have finally come to fruition and the heroes are victorious. Yay, all life across the multiverse! Yet, it is bittersweet when our heroes must return to their own worlds. Well, almost all of them. And while The Watcher returns to…watching, and Dr. Strange becomes the keeper of the remnants of fight, at least Apocalypse Widow gets a true happy ending.
Sure, Marvel had to make one really boring episode to lay the groundwork for a pretty kick-ass one, but at least the amount of kick-ass-ness is directly proportional to the amount of boring-ness from the earlier one, and maybe that’s just another sacrifice that had to be made by the, ahem, *multiverse’s* mightiest heroes.