What If … Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark? Episode Review/Shang-Chi Movie Review

Wednesday is Marvel day on the blog! As fate will have it, I don’t just have a What If … review planned for you today, but also one for Shang-Chi! I hope you’re up for a little double-feature and ready for spoilers ahead.

What If ... Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?
credit: Marvel Studios

What was it about?

What if Tony Stark never had a change of heart and instead invited a villain into his life? Well, you’d get the plot of this episode.

My thoughts?

After the last two weeks, this episode felt a little bit lackluster to me. There’s really no other way to say this, but I’m extremely tired of having to watch Tony Stark die and while Erik “Killmonger” Stevens is a fascinating character, this didn’t add much to his arc. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s break it down:

Heroes are not born. They’re forged in darkness, shaped in battle, defined by sacrifice.

  • The age of Iron Man never comes to pass as Tony gets rescued by Erik “Killmonger” Stevens in Afghanistan and therefore never has a change of heart. Instead of rethinking Stark Industries entire business model, he basically believes it is necessary to just create more and better weapons.
  • To show his gratitude, Tony makes Killmonger first his new chief of security, but quickly promotes him to COO. While he believes to have found a like-minded soul, Erik has other plans.
What If ... Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?
credit: Marvel Studios
  • Killmonger uses Tony to his advantage in several ways. First, he gets him to help build Project Liberator, war drones that fight like humans and look like something out of an anime (their reference, not mine). But he also uses Stark Industries to create a paper trail that leads to Tony rather than himself.
  • In an attempt to acquire vibranium for the drones, Erik sets up Rhodey as well as T’Challa and kills both in the process. After Tony finds out, because he’s still whip-smart, Erik also kills him, but stages it to make it look like the Dora Milaje did it in the name of Wakanda.
  • An outright war is about to start between the US and Wakanda, because of Killmonger’s meddling. But all of this was part of his plan, as he intends to use this situation to weasel his way into the griefing royal family of Wakanda and become the new Black Panther. He ultimately succeeds in getting that power, but T’Challa, on the astral plane, warns him that power unearned can be a very volatile force.
What If ... Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?
credit: Marvel Studios
  • At the end, we can see that the US military is still willing to fight Wakanda, whereas Pepper is at her wits end as to why people won’t believe that Killmonger was behind all of it. Luckily, Shuri shows up and they band together to expose Erik.

Heroes are never really gone. They live forever. As do the ones they inspire to carry on the fight.

As mentioned above, I wasn’t majorly impressed by the episode. All the characters are great, that’s not the issue, but I just didn’t feel like it added much to the narrative we already knew, aside from more people dying. And again, I’m tired of certain characters passing on this show over and over, because I don’t need to keep seeing that.

You all know this show is very hit or miss with me, so I hope you won’t take my very average response to heart too much. I just think that What If …? banks a lot on viewers nostalgia to get their story across and that, most of the time, the episodes themselves don’t warrant that much of an emotional or impressed response. I don’t think that their storytelling in general is that great, but I still wonder if this will play into the bigger MCU at all. In case it doesn’t, I’m not sure I will tune in to all the episodes of Season 2, which is confirmed.


PREVIOUSLY: WHAT IF …


SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS

I usually don’t pile on with reviews like that, but somehow, seeing that Tony’s arc technically had a lot to do with the Ten Rings, I thought it was only fitting I’d also include my Shang-Chi review today!

I kidd you not, I haven’t been to a cinema since February 2020, so this was a huge deal for me. The large screen, the giddy atmosphere, the shared experience, the popcorn (which just never tastes the same when you have to microwave a pack at home), the all around immersive feeling – I’m so very glad I got to celebrate my return to a movie theater with Shang-Chi.

Marvel movies fall into a very common storytelling structure each time, and Shang-Chi is no exception. On the one hand, the structure has proven to work, but on the other hand, it makes everything a little predictable. However, Shang-Chi works so well due to its fantastic cast, amazing fight choreography and the mix between banter and emotional hooks. The friendship between Simu Liu’s character and Awkwafina’s character was great, as they remained platonic throughout, but the film also showed really amazing familial relationships. As far as MCU origin movies go, this is really on the upper end of the spectrum.

At this point, the whole Marvel lore is so vast and interconnected, I know that it has taken out the joy for some people. I love that there wasn’t any previous knowledge necessary to watch Shang-Chi. Yes, you would miss references to Iron Man movies, Doctor Strange characters and the likes, but does it really matter? The story stands on its own and will continue within the universe (seriously can’t wait for more of these characters to come!!!), but also works as a standalone movie.

Little tip: there’s one mid-credit and one after-credit scene. Just in case the light turns on after the first one, like it did in my theater, and a bunch of people leave and miss the second one.

more of these three, pretty please!

What are your thoughts on the episode and the movie? Let’s talk!

Loki: Episode 6 “For All Time. Always.” Season Finale Review

This is my review/recap of the Season 1 finale of Loki, so if you don’t want to be spoiled, please do not read on! You have been warned!!

credit: Marvel Studios

What was it about?

Sylvie and Loki finally meet their match at the Citadel at the End of Time. Can they trust each other to make the right decision?

My thoughts?

Well, this was different than what I expected and at the same time, not that unexpected at all? I think “For All Time. Always.” offered a lot of explanations and information by just plain telling us, just to end on a freaking cliffhanger. I think that what such a cruel thing to do, because what does it mean? Where are we going from here? We don’t have more episodes and I don’t know which movie this story continues in, HOWEVER, we now finally have a Season 2 of the series officially confirmed!

Before I talk myself into a rage though, let us break down what we learned:

  • We start out with a lot of cosmic chatter, almost as if all of Marvel and real life history were happening at once. We got iconic lines from characters as well as actual people from history and it really made the entry into that place beyond time or at the end of time really special.
  • While Miss Minutes did make a brief (jump scare) appearance in the Citadel at the End of Time, I have to disappoint fans of the theory that she is the big bad guy. Instead, we meet “He Who Remains”, who is never introduced by name, but is definitely a version of Kang. Many people have guessed it and therefore I don’t think it was a massive surprise moment for the majority of viewers, but still a neat introduction of the character.
  • Back at the TVA, Mobius and Hunter B-15 work together to reveal to the other agents that they’ve been lied to. Ravonna (who seems to be called Rebecca and works as a school principle on Earth when she’s not deviating from her timeline) is still convinced that all her work wasn’t for nothing. That is real dedication to the cause. She fights Mobius, but doesn’t prune him again, telling him that she feels betrayed by him. Miss Minutes/Kang supplied her with some interesting files and now she’s off trying to find free will … whatever that means.
credit: Marvel Studios
  • At the end of time, Kang explains how the TVA started, why it is still up and running and that there are only two ways all of this will end. Either the Lokis kill him and the timeline will branch indefinitely, paving the way for other multiversal selves of Kang to conquer this reality. Or, Sylvie and Loki could take over the TVA and run it as they see fit in order to prevent cataclysmic chaos.
  • The portrayal of Kang was very interesting. It had a silly madness to it, but didn’t seem menacing or threatening at all. For someone who lived eons, mostly by themselves, to preserve cosmic peace, he was a bit loopy but not necessarily unkind. I’d almost say he was goofy, which wasn’t at all how I imagined meeting him, but it was a pleasant change of tone.
credit: Marvel Studios
  • When Loki asked Sylvie to contemplate what Kang had said for a second, I thought that was actually very reasonable. They didn’t know if he was lying, but Loki had a solid point in not wanting to unleash something even worse by killing him. In the end, Sylvie could not trust Loki and Loki could not be trusted. It is their eternal cycle. So, Sylvie tricked Loki and pushed him through a portal that led back to the TVA before killing Kang. She did not seem happy afterwards, just slumping to the floor crying, all alone at the end of time.
  • Sylki is now canon … I suppose. Even at the end of the season, I have no idea how feel about that, although I did want them to clarify the kind of relationship they had. They kissed, but they also betrayed each other. Tough call to say if this is salvageable, then again, they’re Lokis … betrayal is in their blood.
credit: Marvel Studios
  • Back at the TVA, Loki rushes to find Mobius and Hunter B-15 contemplating what to do about the branching timelines and I cannot lie, that was one of the most heartbreaking moments. He was so remorseful, terrified of what they had let happen, just to learn that neither of them knows or remembers him. The statues of the Time-Keepers we’ve previously seen at the TVA are replaced by one of Kang. Either this isn’t his/our reality, or the branching timelines changed history? I don’t even know, but I’m taking it as confirmation of the fact that we’ve entered the multiverse.
credit: Marvel Studios

This season of Loki was action packed and emotional at times. I can’t say I fully understand the ramifications of what we have watched and I’m not too happy about the fact that we ended on a cliffhanger. I’m not a patient person and I need some sort of graph telling me which movies and shows will carry on with this narrative now and how long I will have to wait to see them.

All in all, I loved the characters we got introduced to in Loki. I didn’t like every choice they made, but I’m so very curious where we’re going to go. This final episode was a lot more calm than I expected it to be and I actually appreciated that. There were fights, but they were much more understated than some of the big CGI blow-ups we’re used to (although I suppose that got covered with Alioth last week). Again, I feel like we just got sat down by the showrunners and they tried to explain some of the logistics to us, while only giving way to small emotional moments in between. Tom Hiddleston’s face at the end was heartbreaking, but in some regards I needed more. More Sylvie/Loki exploration, more background information on the mutliverse issue, more time with Mobius and Hunter B-15, more episodes to watch … Maybe I’m just greedy that way, but I just wish it hadn’t left us with more questions than answer.

credit: Marvel Studios

PREVIOUS LOKI REVIEWS

MORE TOM HIDDLESTON CONTENT FROM ME


What are your thoughts? Are you happy with the season finale? Are you sad it’s over? Let’s talk!