One of the gutsiest things about “What If?” the Marvel Comic title presenting alternative narratives to canon Marvel stories and thus the basis of the animated MCU anthology on Disney+, is that it does not hesitate to end the story on a grim note if that is a possible outcome of how a comic storyline was changed. Viewers of the streaming series got a one-two punch dose of this with the third and fourth episodes, particularly the latter with destroyed the alternate universe the story occurs in. With episode 5 “What If…?” adapts one of the biggest AU Marvel series done yet, which cast the universe in a zombie apocalypse.
“What If…Zombies?” takes the tropes from the many “Marvel Zombies” limited series of comic books released since 2005 and transplants them into the MCU, to horrifying and heartbreaking results. The divergence from what was considered the “Sacred Timeline” happens during “Ant-Man and The Wasp,” when Dr. Pym goes to the Quantum Realm to find his long-lost wife Janet. Unfortunately, time spent in the Quantum Realm has somehow turned Janet into a zombie that infects him. From the two of them, the infection spreads and this alternate MCU is epically screwed.
Two weeks later, after the events of “Avengers: Infinity War” is derailed by the ensuing zombie apocalypse, a dwindling party of survivors try to stay alive to reach a location that is broadcasting its efforts to develop a cure for the infection. They are: Bruce Banner (unable to Hulk out), Hope Van Dyne/Wasp, Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier, Sharon Carter, Happy Hogan, Scott Lang/Ant-Man’s buddy Kurt, Okoye of the Dora Milaje, and the Cloak of Levitation of the late Doctor Strange. Zombie survival horror conventions are in play as this group gets whittled down one by one by the horde. And if they should reach safety, are they really safe?
This is probably my shortest review summation of an episode of “What If…?” to date. It is simply too spoiler-filled that to say more would ruin the experience for those who have not watched it on Disney+ yet. “What If…Zombies” also has probably the highest percentage of MCU cast members reprising their animated counterparts in an episode. Only Tom Holland was not present for What-If Spider-Man. Anyone who has seen the MCU films would really feel the effect of the actual voices in his super-take on zombies. One can only wonder how Marvel Studios will top this in Episode 5.
A new episode of “What If…?” arrives every Wednesday on Disney+ streaming. Do note however that there are only four more episodes left this season.
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