Chapter Five of What If…? it lacks the dense and emotional darkness of its predecessor. But like the fall into the multiversal hells of Doctor Strange, the arrival of the zombies to Marvel has a dark note that surprises.
For the first time, the house of ideas dares to a formula that parodies the usual clichés of zombie movies. Take one of his best-known comics to rethink one of his most successful stories.
The result is a very strange version of a zombie epidemic that is effective to the extent that it fits together as a whole of records. On the one hand excessive, on the other increasingly strange and twisted, the arrival of a plague of monsters to the multiverse is a successful experiment.
What if … zombies came into the world?
There is an appreciable divergence between the story of the episode and its comic book peer. In the Disney Plus series it is said that the zombie infection came through the Quantum Realm. In its paper version it is about a plague that ravaged the world. It may seem like a small difference, but that completely changes the direction of attack the heroes will face (and lose).
The popular miniseries Zombie Marvels was published in 2005, written by The Walking Dead co-creator Robert Kirkman. The story bases its effectiveness on showing the gore version of a world ravaged by an epidemic that even devastated its heroes. In What if …? the result is completely different.
Back to ‘Infinity War’, but in its sinister version
For the occasion, the chapter begins with an exact sequence to that of Infinity War (2018) in which Bruce Banner is sent to earth through Heimdall’s Bifrost. But unlike the original timeline, Banner ends up in an empty Sancto Sanctorum. When the character runs to the street for help, he finds it desolate. You even wonder if you are too late.
The sequence of What if…? skillfully blends the harrowing opening minutes of Avengers: Infinity War with the decadent atmosphere of a regular zombie movie. In fact, by the time the Black Order arrives it is evident that there is a disaster on the doorstep. The gigantic presence of Black Dwarf and Ebony Maw it is dwarfed by an ominous silence and that’s when the action begins.
It is puzzling how the series mixes the idea of traditional zombies with a Marvel version, which retains its powers and abilities. Wizards of the Sanctum Sanctorum can still open portals and Iron Man wields his armor skillfully. It all happens very soon as the world is rapidly falling apart.
Spider-Man as the main hero of ‘What if…?’
As rumored, Spider-Man turns out to be the hero in the midst of the What If? Debacle. His opening scenes are identical to his Spider-Man: Far from Home home videos and there is something of the nonchalance of the traditional zombie genre. In fact, it is even used the almost innocent air of Spider-Man recordings to create a narrative line.
The young New York hero is joined by Bruce Banner, Hope Van Dyne, Agent Sharon Carter, Bucky Barnes, Happy Hogan, and Okoye. The group is puzzling, because in themselves they are references to the way that Marvel handles the information of its characters.
Each of them carries a good deal of information and is actually the episode’s way of intermingling stories. While Hope tries to make amends for a mistake, Sharon Carter barely survives. The same as Happy Hogan, who wears the Iron Man glove. Okoye, for his part, is looking for T’Challa, who is lost.
The Quantum Realm as the origin of evil
For the occasion, the origin of the epidemic focuses on the rescue of Hank Pym to Janet Van Dyne in the Quantum Realm. But unlike the original timeline, he finds that Janet contracted a virus that has zombified her. What would happen if…? shows the same scene from the movie, but taken to a sinister level.
By the time Bruce Banner returns to earth, two weeks have passed and time is running out against his heroes. In fact, one of the strengths of the program is to rescue several of the great scenes of The Avengers but in their zombie version. From the attack of the Sorcerer Supreme and Wong, to the tragic death of Happy with the glove of Iron Man. There is not a single detail that is not interconnected with the world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
‘What would happen if…?’ and one of the most anticipated phrases of Marvel
Amid the chaos, Spider-Man stands as a symbol of hope. And in a conversation with Hope he finally names Uncle Ben as one of the losses in his life. It is the first time that the hero does it in the field of Marvel and it is curious that it is in the middle of an alternative history. Do you mean that our line never will?
The villain is not a monster
For its final scenes and after a fast-paced journey towards a disturbing cure, the series draws parallels to the WandaVision series. Because, in fact, the one who sends the emergency signal is Vision. But once the group of survivors make it, they find the unexpected. The synth is not looking for a cure, in fact it has it on its forehead in the form of an infinity stone. In fact, his intention is to attract food for a zombified Wanda, perhaps the most chilling image of the episode of What if …?
The dynamics of WandaVision reverses and becomes something more sinister. For Vision, Wanda’s survival is so necessary as to even sacrifice Earth’s heroes. The power of the gem on his forehead is capable of healing but not the Scarlet witch. So Vision uses the caveat to feed Wanda.
In one of the most disturbing scenes, T’Challa lies with one leg eaten up, waiting for Wanda to devour him. The wink immediately refers to the comic in a scene almost traced from the paper version.
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The hero says goodbye again
There is also an opportunity for a new farewell from T’Challa. In a beautiful and disturbing scene, the character repeats his already iconic phrase “in my culture, death is not the end”. But unlike the radiant optimism of the chapter, in this version the phrase is much darker and more painful.
In the end, evil triumphs
In the same way as in the Kirkman comics, evil triumphs in the What if …? So much so that the last scene is one of the most shocking of the series. And, without a doubt, an immediate reference to one of the best-known phrases in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thanos, this time standing in Wakanda and turned into a zombie, just waits for the mind gem for the deadly snap.