If you enjoy my content, please consider clicking the Buy Me A Coffee button to the right to show your support. One-time donations are available as well as Memberships, both of which grant early access to posts like this.
For those that thought last week’s episode was bleak, Marvel’s What If… basically said, “Hold my beer.” This week’s episode “What If… Zombies” is the episode I’ve most been looking forward to since I saw the first trailer reveal of a zombified Captain America. The episode did not disappoint, hitting all of the key tropes I’ve come to love and expect from a Zombie story (with the added bonus of superheroes).
Spoilers ahead, obviously, so don’t read if you haven’t watched the episode.
Taking place during the events of Avengers: Infinity War, Bruce Banner is sent hurdling back to Earth after Thanos’ attack on the Asgardian transport, only to find an empty New York waiting for him. When Cull Obsidian and the Ebony Maw arrive shortly after, they are swiftly dealt with by Iron Man, Wong, and Doctor Strange, who promptly begin eating the alien invaders. The divergence for this universe is that when Hank Pym went to retrieve Janet Van Dyne from the Quantum Realm in Ant-Man and The Wasp, Janet had contracted a quantum disease that made her a zombie.
In rapid succession, the West Coast of the U.S. is zombified in 24 hours. The Avengers arrive to save the day, only to be overwhelmed and turned in short order as well. Bruce finds himself among a group of survivors: Spider-Man, Okoye, Bucky Barnes, Hope Van Dyne, Kurt (from the Ant-Man franchise), Happy Hogan, and Sharon Carter. The visual of their base of operations was pretty cool, with Peter Parker suspending a group of subway cars between the skyscrapers. And Peter’s home movie about how to survive the apocalypse had me in stitches.
The progression of the episode was relatively fast-paced but there were excellent moments of tension-filled horror, especially during the Grand Central station sequence. Unwisely splitting up the group, the mission to get to Camp Lehigh (the camp where Steve Rogers trained) ended with a number of the participants getting killed, including Happy and Sharon. Hope became infected during the fight with Sharon and a zombie Captain America. In any zombie story, the group of survivors is always dwindled down over the course of the story because it evokes the feeling that no one is safe.
The scenes involving Vision and zombie Wanda were quite good, particularly once you realized that if the roles were reversed in WandaVision, it’s entirely likely that Vision would also have done something nefarious to bring back his lover. The return of just Scott Lang’s head (just roll with it) and T’Challa (minus a leg that was served to Wanda) gave a brief spot of hope to the group before everything went to hell all over again with Wanda’s escape. In the end, the only remaining survivors are T’Challa, Peter, and Scott, with the others sacrificing themselves to give the group time to escape with the Mind Stone and the chance to use it to reverse the Zombie Plague.
Which leads to the downer ending. Up to this point, we’ve been told that Wakanda is the last sanctuary in the world, due to their technology keeping the country safe. As the remaining survivors travel to the African nation, we find that not only is Wakanda not the safe haven (it is overrun with zombies) but Thanos is there. The Mad Titan has also been zombified and is in possession of the Infinity Gauntlet with five out of the six stones.
I love zombie movies and stories. This one is no exception. From the brief hope spots in the story to the tragic sacrifices of Hope Van Dyne, the Hulk, Bucky, and Okoye, everything about this episode was fun for me. Marvel’s What If… continues to be an experiment done right, with each of the episodes showcasing a different alternate reality in entertaining ways.