Marvel's "What If... the World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?" Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Marvel's "What If... the World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?" Review

Alexander Wallace disassembles.
Since the Marvel Cinematic Universe changed the movie business forever in 2009, the Avengers have justly bore the title “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.” They are what the average person thinks of when they hear the phrase ‘superhero team.’ They’ve surpassed the Justice League, no doubt in part due to Warner Brothers’ inept handling of their superhero franchise. They are rightly remembered as groundbreaking. The logical question presents itself.

What if there were no Avengers?

This episode is easily the eeriest of What If…?’s episodes, and thus far it is my favorite. I was expecting somewhat maudlin platitudes about how much these heroes mean to us. What I got was something damn near a horror movie.

One by one, the members of the original Avengers (of the 2012 film) are killed in strange and disturbing ways. It’s a harrowing experience as you see characters that you have come to know and love be murdered callously and without ceremony. The best comparison I have is the 1986 The Transformers: the Movie, which executed beloved characters from the show all the way up to Optimus Prime. The whole episode is dominated by this utterly compelling feeling of complete paranoia, and it’s as tense as many thrillers I’ve watched. It is, in some ways, a political thriller, not quite in the way that The Winter Soldier was, but engrossing all the same.

The actual plot follows Nick Fury (voiced once again by Samuel L. Jackson) and Black Widow (here voiced by Lake Bell) as they try to get to the bottom of the assassinations. Bell provides a performance worthy of Johansson with an urgency and an emotion that is relevant, especially in relation to Bruce Banner.

Another thing this episode does very well - and rocketed it up to the status as my favorite - is why somebody wants to kill the Avengers. As a matter of decency, I won’t spoil it, but the identity of the perpetrator made it clear to me that a lot of thought, and no lack of originality, was put into the writing of this episode. It was a choice that floored me with how much it went against my initial suspicion.

What If... the World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes? shows how good the superhero genre can be when it injects gravitas to its processions. The genre grew as an interrogation of the nature of justice, and this episode takes that concept and molds it into a tour de force. If anyone had any doubts about this series, they can be put to rest now.

Alexander Wallace is an alternate historian, reader, and writer who moderates the Alternate History Online group on Facebook and the Alternate Timelines Forum on Proboards. He writes regularly for the Sea Lion Press blog and for NeverWas magazine, and also appears regularly on the Alternate History Show with Ben Kearns. He is a member of several alternate history fora under the name 'SpanishSpy.'

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