This review contains spoilers for Marvel’s What If…? episode 7.
In episode 7 of Marvel’s What If…?, ‘What If… Thor Were an Only Child?’, we get to find out what would have happened if Odin had decided to return the wee babby Loki to his Frost Giant family instead of keeping him, and Thor had grown up believing he was an only child. I’m phrasing it that way because, y’know, Hela still exists. Lest we forget her majesty.
It’s a fun, fluffy episode that ends with a terrific cliffhanger that seems to set up the finale of this consistently entertaining animated series, and gives us plenty to talk about until it arrives. I’m sure they’ll find a way to kill Tony Stark at least one more time before it does.
If you’re a regular here and often read our weekly What If…? reviews, you may already know that they have a bit of a unique format – more of a breakdown that we hope will satisfy die-hard Marvel fans but still help bring those less familiar with the MCU up to speed.
With that in mind, it’s time to dig deeper into ‘What If… Thor Were an Only Child?’.
Certainly the first Thor movie needs to be on your radar, along with Thor: Ragnarok. There are plenty of references to the initial installment of the soon-to-be Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy here, too. Oh, and Captain Marvel! And Avengers: Age of Ultron! Phew.
As we’ve come to expect, Uatu the Watcher is Jeffrey Wright. Chris Hemsworth is Thor, Tom Hiddleston is Loki, Natalie Portman is Jane Foster, Kat Dennings is Darcy Lewis, Samuel L. Jackson is Nick Fury, Jeff Goldblum is The Grandmaster, Cobie Smulders is Maria Hill, Clark Gregg is Agent Phil Coulson, Frank Grillo is Brock Rumlow/Crossbones, Taika Waititi is Korg, Karen Gillan is Nebula, Jaimie Alexander is Lady Sif, Seth Green is Howard the Duck, Clancy Brown is (amazingly) Surtur, Alexandra Daniels is Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, and Rachel House is Topaz. Frigga is played here by Josette Eales from Blended and Covert Affairs.
Jane Foster and Darcy Lewis are camping out in the desert monitoring a rather familiar astronomaly that turns out to be Thor and his gang arriving in Las Vegas with the intention to party, and party hard. The Watcher then jumps in with a bit of exposition: in this universe, Odin chose not to raise Loki as his own after finding him on the battlefield as a baby, and brought him back to the Frost Giants instead.
Growing up minus a testing – but pivotally maturing – relationship with Loki, Thor has evolved into a Party Prince who jumps at the opportunity to capitalize on his bad boy behaviour when his father slips into Odinsleep and his mother Frigga takes her eye off the royal ball.
Inviting all and sundry from the Nine Realms to the biggest party ever witnessed on Earth is certainly a surprising series of events for Jane and Darcy to cope with – they were expecting a much more malevolent alien invasion. But despite his lack of wisdom, Jane is still attracted to Thor and is pulled into his orbit. Meanwhile, Darcy marries Howard the Duck. Boy, that escalated quickly.
After partying all night with a gaggle of MCU faves, including Foam Party Grandmaster and Nebula, Jane is paid a visit from SHIELD, who are looking for a way to get rid of Thor and clean up the mess that he and his revellers are making on Earth.
Maria Hill decides to call on Captain Marvel to get the job done. She arrives and kicks his ass for a while, but explains that using her full power to get rid of him might cause catastrophic damage to the planet, so Maria and Carol plot to lure Thor into a remote area where his annihilation won’t be as much of a problem.
Jane thinks SHEILD’s plan is way out of pocket, and concocts a different one to tell Frigga about Thor going off the chain. Frigga appears and lays down the law, while Thor promises he’s definitely not partying and is in fact studying the Nine Realms on a “cultural exchange” as agreed.
Efforts to clean up his mess before Frigga arrives on Earth are mixed at best, but Thor nearly manages to sell it to his mother when she lands, thanks to Captain Marvel.
As the episode appears to wrap up, Thor and Jane’s relationship develops further, with the pair agreeing to go on a date.
How does it work out?
Well, we almost got a happy ending in this one, but even The Watcher didn’t see this cliffhanger coming!
As some romantic music soars around Jane and Thor, a portal opens and out marches Infinity Ultron. He’s in the body he created during Avengers: Age of Ultron that the Avengers nabbed and used to bring Vision to life in the Sacred Timeline, and he has all six Infinity Stones. But will it be James Spader’s voice flowing from Ultron’s mouth when we next see him, or Paul Bettany’s somehow? I can’t wait to find out. There are a lot of tantalizing questions here.
In an episode jam-packed with delightful moments it’s tough to choose just a few, but I know that the regular What If…? comment crew will find any I missed in the comments.
Both Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston seem to have had a grand old time bringing these versions of Thor and Loki to life in the booth, and their banter is just the gift that keeps on giving in episode 7. It was a treat to see the pair interacting without so many years of rivalry and resentment having built up between them. Turns out they would have been the best of friends – something that perhaps both of them suspected in the Sacred Timeline, but could never quite achieve given their taut family history.
Kat Dennings was on hand to deliver most of the episode’s killer lines, and in a series where some of the voices sadly haven’t really matched the energy of their animated hosts, Darcy jumps out as a successful incarnation. I never thought I’d witness Darcy and Howard the Duck tying the knot, but sometimes the MCU gives us things we didn’t know we needed. I’d now give my right eye (sorry) to see these two interact in live action.
The fight sequence between Carol and Thor was spectacularly put together, and the design work on display during the duo’s first battle was visually quite stunning. It was interesting to work out how evenly matched they were throughout, even if Carol was holding back a little. I wondered if we might even get to see Carol wield Mjolnir, but this episode answered that question pretty definitively, didn’t it?
Episode 7’s Infinity Ultron cliffhanger was also superb. I know that Marvel have teased it in various marketing materials, but What If…?’s finale showdown, which will seemingly bring all these universes together for a huge battle that includes Captain Carter, should be quite the eye-popping denouement.
See you next week! Same Watcher time! Same Watcher streaming service! In the meantime, if you want to dig deeper into What If…?, please consider subscribing to Marvel Standom on the Den of Geek YouTube channel, where we dish out weekly episodes on all the new Marvel TV series, trailers and movie releases. Can’t stand our faces? That’s fair! You can listen to Marvel Standom on Spotify and Apple, too.