In the third installment premiering on August 25, Marvel Studios’ and Disney+’s What If…? released another hypothetical anthology episode of the MCU under the guise of The Watcher, entitled “What If…the World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?” In this third installment, the series picks up from singular stories on Peggy Carter and T’Challa and transitions to Nick Fury and his various interactions and understandings of some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s top characters and heroes such as Tony Stark, Thor, Hawkeye, Hulk, and Black Widow.
The episode’s crux follows Fury’s quest to begin the formation and recruiting strategies of Avengers until this union is corrupted by its heroes, such as Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow, and Hulk are murdered in suspicious fashions leading to Fury’s investigation. Additionally, upon Thor’s murder, Loki arrives on Earth in a sinister tone looking to avenge his brother’s death and immediately cause strife between S.H.I.E.L.D. and his Asgardian soldiers.
Similar to last week’s episode, the third installment saw huge returns for actors and actresses to their MCU roles. Tom Hiddleston (The Night Manager) reprises his role as Loki, Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight) comes back as Hulk or Bruce Banner, Jeremy Renner (Wind River) as Clint Barton/Hawkeye, Michael Douglas (Wall Street) as Yellowjacket/Hank Pym, Clark Gregg (The West Wing) as Phil Coulson, and Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction) as Nick Fury.
The episode lends itself to another brand new approach to the Avengers Initiative that audiences have grown accustomed to. The initiative, which never even begins to take off, is a complete and utter failure, but once more showcases a return to action for Fury who begins to develop the key desire for searching for a team of even better heroes in times of dire need. The episode is a fun foray into a murder mystery in the Marvel Cinematic Universe allowing for Fury to go on a 30-minute Whodunnit mission with Loki’s overwatch on the Earthlings. Upon the discovery of Hank Pym being behind the murders of the original canon Avengers, Loki sides with Fury and dispatches him and later becomes the overlord of Earth all in one day.
“What If…the World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?” is an enjoyable ride and provides some much-needed screen time for Fury, who has been lost in the shuffle in recent installations of the MCU. Regardless, this episode’s hypothetical situation relied on shock value which was an intriguing path as there has always been an identifiable hero to follow whether in What If…? so far or any other Marvel project. Once again, the animation was on point throughout the fight scenes and the transitions during Hank and Loki’s scrap in the graveyard. The goal of this show is to be bold and think of the outrageous, but oftentimes it just recrafts the original scenes and characters that viewers have come to know. This felt more of a cheap pop to include the returning cast members and characters, unlike the previous episode where it completely flipped the intentions and characterization of the MCU’s biggest villain ever in Thanos. Entertainment was at the center of this episode and it maintains its quality with the murder mystery that lurks behind each scene. Hopefully, future episodes begin to explore the absurd instead of remolding previous storylines and getting more adventurous with the flexibility that The Watcher’s inclusion offers.