As with every Marvel Disney+ show, we’ve gotten our mid-season trailer for What If?… and it teases new stories, surprise appearances and some answers I didn’t expect to get.
A large section of this trailer, if not the majority, is footage we have already seen. This kind of mid-season promo is designed to grab new viewers while also teasing new episodes for those of us who are already watching.
So, let’s delve into the new stuff, what it means when we can expect it and how it sets up the rest of the series to come. I’ll be looking at this storyline by the storyline, so the shot’s I’m discussing will be from across the trailer.
Early on we see a shot of what appears to be Michael B Jordan’s Killmonger in his Black Panther suit, this week’s upcoming episode has been confirmed to centre around the Black Panther villains and there’s a good few shot to unpack here. In the shot, he appears to be in the Wakandan throne room with a battle ensuing out of view and the windows were broken.
Since we also see him on a battlefield later with Wakanda’s and Stark Industries robots, I think we can assume that Killmonger’s friendship with Tony Stark, previously teased in other trailers, helps him take over Wakanda with a lot more ease. As it appears that it leads to an all-out war between Killmonger/Stark and Wakandan forces.
Later on, a shot of Pepper, armed with a large high-tech gun, Shuri and the Dora Milaje seems to imply an alliance in the same episode. Perhaps unlike in Black Panther, Killmonger wins the throne and keeps it, so Shuri is forced to seek allies elsewhere to remove her brother’s killer from the throne.
Post-Apocalyptic Black Widow
Perhaps the story we have the least information on is that of Post-Apocalyptic Black Widow. This seems to be a world in which Ultron’s plan in Avengers Age of Ultron worked. The world was decimated and there are few survivors, or only one that we know of, Natasha Romanoff.
An early action moment shows Natasha beheading two Ultron drones with what I assume is her motorbike from the Age of Ultron.
She can also be seen throwing Red Guardians shield, a weapon that I believe only made an appearance in merchandising for Black Widow, but never an on-screen appearance. Nonetheless, it’s a lot of fun that Phase 4 is getting even a small reference like this, only a few short months since the film’s release.
In the very last of the shots of the trailer, she appears to be aiming what I can only assume is Hawkeye’s bow, in the wake of everyone else meeting an apparent end, she seems to be utilising the weapons of more than one hero to survive in this actual Age of Ultron.
However, I think the most interesting piece of information comes from the show’s official poster. On the poster, we can see what appears to be Vision clad in an Ultron looking armour, 5 infinity stones in his chest and a large metal spear at my side.
I would theorise that this version of Ultron didn’t turn Sokovia into a meteor, he managed to transfer his consciousness to the Vision’s body successfully as intended. So, his attempt to defeat the Avengers and change the world was not only very different but successful. How he acquired the stones is a mystery to me but I am intrigued by the implications this could mean for that reality’s, Thanos.
As far as we know, James Spader has not been confirmed as a cast member there are other characters whose movie actors did not reprise the role, but I do think it would be a shame if he did not.
While less was shown than the last two, Party Thor’s episode did get some spotlight. Merchandising and synopses have suggested that this episode will focus on a version of Thor who never learnt humility and became worth again but instead partied in Las Vegas to an extent that threatens the planet.
We get brief shots of Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster DJ’ing and Taika Waititi’s Korg dancing, surrounded by Asgardians. Mantis also seems to be in the foreground of the scene with a Skrull at the back. At first, I assumed this was from the episode seen in LEGO sets where Tony Stark goes to Sakaar, but since we have seen nothing else of that episode, it seems more likely that it was the episode pushed to next season.
We do get some other shots of Party Thor himself however I’d like to save those for the next episode I’m going to discuss.
Guardians of the Multiverse
As we saw in an earlier trailer, we get a glimpse at the Guardians of the Multiverse assembled in a parallel to the iconic Avengers shot. The team seems to consist of Captain Carter, Post-Apocalyptic Black Widow, T’Challa Star-Lord, Gamora Daughter of Thanos, King Killmonger and Party Thor.
It felt worth noting that Captain Carter is in a new suit, somewhat reminiscent of Steve’s stealth suit in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Assumably Peggy also took up employment with SHIELD, though it begs the question of how the organisation turned out without her as one of the key founders.
While Doctor Strange Supreme can’t be spotted in the line-up shot, he is seen with Party Thor potentially in the zombie reality as Party Thor exclaims “Zombies, great idea”. We have also previously seen Doctor Strange in what seemed to be a meeting with Peggy. Perhaps he will take the role of a recruiter for this Multiversal Avengers team.
Party Thor does battle with an Ultron bot in what appears to be Vegas, perhaps Ultron discovers how to cross realities. Making him a threat worthy of The Watcher’s interference.
My current theory is, upon seeing Ultron as a multiversal threat that will threaten all other realities, he attempts to save the multiverse with minimal interference. By allowing Doctor Strange Supreme to escape his miserable existence in the remnants of the universe he destroyed, and instead put together a team of heroes The Watcher believes can stop Ultron.
The trailer opens with a recreation of Tony’s snap in Avengers: Endgame, given the premises of the next few episodes, I can’t imagine where this might fit in. My best guess would be an intro to this week’s episode, discussing how his life would have turned out if he had not met Killmonger.
“Heroes are forged by darkness, defined by sacrifice, there is still hope for the Multiverse”, The Watcher narrates the opening of the trailer in what I suspect is an empowering speech to Doctor Strange Supreme, who has given up on himself and his universe.
Surprisingly we seem to be going back to T’Challa Star Lord’s reality, where we can see Ego using Peter like a battery for his galaxy dominating plans from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. I’d honestly kind of assumed this show’s dark cliff-hangers would mostly not be paid off, but it seems that assumption was misplaced. Assumably we will see how this plays out in a lead up to T’Challa’s return for the inevitable team-up.
We only see two very brief appearances from Carol Danvers but considering her cameo in episode 3, I think it is safe to assume we will be getting a continuation, however brief, of that reality too. As I mentioned before, I previously assumed that the ultimate fate of each reality would be left vague and ominous, but it would seem more likely that the finale will be giving us a bit of closure on all of them.
In a blink and you’ll miss it shot, Hawkeye leaps into what looks like the same facility that Captain America: Civil War’s final confrontation took place in. Considering we also see a swarm of Ultron’s flying up this same structure, I assume this is how Hawkeye meets his end in that reality.
Overall, there is a hell of a lot going on, the final four episodes of the show promise to be a spectacular and intriguing as the first five. We’ll be putting out reviews on each episode so be sure to check those out.