‘What If…?’ Episode 5 – ‘Zombies’ Review
This week’s episode of What If…? is one of the most intense yet with a new take on events during Avengers: Infinity War. Instead of the imminent arrival of Thanos, a freak accident from another Marvel film leads to a zombie apocalypse. This zombies episode of What if…? is right up there with last week’s Doctor Strange episode filled with dark twists and turns. In a world where the original Avengers succumbed to the fate of becoming a part of a horde of infected, only a few heroes remain to pick up the pieces and race to find a cure.
The drastic tone change from episode to episode gives What If…? fresh new life every week, differentiating itself from the rest of the Disney+ Marvel shows. If 28 Days Later took place in the Marvel Universe, one would assume it would play out a lot like this. Most of this episode is from the perspective of Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) who, like in the original MCU canon, was out in space when all of this happened. Rather than coming to warn a fractured Avengers of Thanos, he finds hordes of infected and even a zombie Iron Man.
The entire voice cast of this episode may be the best of the season. With original MCU actors voicing nearly every major player, we get real authenticity to these events. With the survivors consisting of Spider-Man, Okoye, Winter Soldier, Sharon Carter, Happy Hogan, Wasp, and Kurt, we get some very interesting team dynamics.
The whole purpose of this show is to see things we usually wouldn’t get a chance to in the main canon. If any episode takes advantage of this, it’s this one. Without a doubt, a highlight and emotional heart of the episode is Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Bringing an upbeat positivity to an otherwise dark situation is classic Spider-Man. That’s exactly what Peter does as he tries to keep the team together emotionally. The most intriguing part comes from his relationship with Hope, as they form a close bond during their time surviving the zombie plague.
Watching these potential Avengers and side characters come into their own was also a treat. Moreover, they manage to rise to the occasion. Seeing them fight the Avengers who have turned into zombies was incredible. The designs of the Avengers who have become infected are also really well done. Watching them still have some semblance of their personality but still have the innate need to consume flesh really was something else. Overall, the episode managed to tell a compelling zombie story.
This dark reality the Watcher shows us only gets darker as the story progresses. Like any zombie film, our cast of survivors is slowly picked off. Watching these heroes go against unsurmountable odds was thrilling. Moreover, the episode has enough twists and turns to keep you guessing. The last-minute arrival of other familiar faces provides enough of a shocking revelation to keep you guessing until the end. That end, mind you, is an absolute shocker.
This week’s What If…? was another successful entry, to say the least. While there are some forced emotional moments, it still earns most of them. The MCU’s take on the zombie genre is a welcome one full of great action and character moments. Most importantly, it takes risks in genre-bending rather than going for something familiar. It will be exciting to see what the rest of the series has to offer. – Ernesto Valenzuela
What If…? is now streaming on Disney+.