It’s Wednesday and we’re back with another Marvel, or in this particular case Hawkeye, review for episode 4 of the season – Partners, Am I Right? Please beware of spoilers from here on out!
What was it about?
As Kate feels ever more involved in her “partnership” with Hawkeye, Clint comes to the realization that he has to cut ties with her if he wants to keep her safe.
The fourth episode of the season has usually held some kind of twist or surprise for us in previous shows (Wanda proving that she controls Westview, John bloodying the shield, the revelation that the Time Lords aren’t real …) and the formula still held true for Hawkeye. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a surprise in this case, because everyone was waiting for it to happen, but it was still used as a sort of turning point in the show. I don’t know whether to appreciate the consistency in storytelling across Marvel show properties or be extremely frustrated with their predictability.
Albeit a little later in the day, you know the drill! It’s Wednesday, so we are reviewing/recap-ing Marvel’s Hawkeye episode 3 titled “Echoes” – there are spoilers from here on out!
What was it about?
After getting captured by the Tracksuit Mafia, Clint and Kate have to fight their way out.
I liked the episode, don’t get me wrong, but not a lot actually happened. It furthered the show’s main conflict a bit and established our antagonists, but in terms of story progression, we haven’t really gone much farther. I don’t see that as a huge issue, especially because I like getting to know characters on a deeper level, which this show provides, but we only have three more episodes. They are going to have to either a) wrap this up quickly or b) prove me right again in my theory that Marvel/Disney+ shows are only used as lengthy prequels for upcoming movies.
But let’s just break the episode down:
We start off with an opening sequence set in 2007 up to present day to show us the evolution of Maya Lopez. It was really beautifully done and conveyed so much about her in little time. For one, we learn how she became so exceptionally gifted at martial arts and other fight techniques, while we also learn about her “connection” to Ronin, due to him killing her father.
On a side note, I liked the little nod towards dragons, as we now *do* know they are actually real thanks to Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
One of the more crucial hints the opening delivered was a sneak peek at who Maya’s father was working for/with. The man going by Uncle, who is only shown neck down, is very likely Wilson Fisk, also known as Kingpin. I’m beyond curious to see who they have cast for the role and if this might our first hint at the resurfacing of Daredevil in the MCU. (I’ve heard rumors! Let me dream!)
Then we’re back at the factory hideout of the Tracksuit Mafia with a tied up Kate and Clint. Kate Bishop is such a fun character and throughout the whole episode the grumpy/sunshine dynamic this newfound duo has is very entertaining and works extremely well for me.
When Maya faces Kate and Clint for the first time, she actually believes Clint to be able to communicate with ASL as well, but scolds him for relying so much on technology and has to use Kazi as an interpreter instead. Barton eventually gets free and Maya crushes his hearing aid during a fight. While I see her point in how it makes his life harder not knowing how to communicate with others, which also leads to some fun scenes throughout the episode, losing one of his senses doesn’t seem to impact his fighting or bow and arrow skills at all. At least I wasn’t aware of any difficulties there.
We get a super cool car chase scene with loads of trick arrows. While I thought that some of the CGI was really noticeable, I generally enjoyed how the scene was shot. They seem to have put someone in the backseat of the car and it really puts you right in the middle of the action with all its shakiness.
Kate and Clint eventually escape and while they regroup at her aunt’s place, we witness Kate helping Barton with a phone call with his son. These small scenes can be so emotional an impacting, I love them. Because despite Clint being a good man, he has so much doubt in himself. He doesn’t believe to be a particularly great father or role model, no matter if he is one of the greatest archers. This self doubt and regret for his past make him so very human and I love that we get to explore that in this show. And then to have Kate be the balance, this absolute fangirl of his to *show* how much he has done for people – great contrast.
Ultimately, the episode ends at Kate’s mother’s apartment. After breaking into the work computer, the duo learns that Kazi works for “Sloan Limited”, which sounds familiar to Clint, but I can’t say it really rings a bell for me. Clint, hearing a noise, investigates and is met with his Ronin blade held by Jack. I don’t think this will be a huge reveal of him as the villain. They did break into the house, so he has an “excuse” to be hostile.
I can only repeat myself, but I think the show shines the most in its quieter moments. As fun as the action is, learning about these characters is what intrigues me. Their emotional turmoil, fears, doubt and what connects them is the driving force. This is, unfortunately, already the halfway point of the series, but I don’t feel we have gotten enough time with them as of yet. I’m very much looking forward to the next episodes though.
Aren’t you all happy that I’m back with weekly reviews? Hawkeye just released and I’m here to talk about the first two episodes. As per usual, these breakdowns are meant to be read after watching the show – beware of spoilers!
What was it about?
Clint Barton just wants to live a quiet life with his family, but the chaotic mess that is Kate Bishop has other plans.
Those were some really solid opening episodes for Hawkeye! While I can’t claim that this was my most anticipated Marvel show, I was definitely excited to see what this would add to a character that most people don’t really appreciate. I’ve always enjoyed the humanity of Clint Barton, because, like his wife Laura said, these heroes and gods needed him in their own way, despite his apparent vulnerabilities. I also, please don’t hate me for this, understood why Nat sacrificed herself for him and his family. Getting to continue this journey was definitely intriguing to me.
What I felt mixed about was the fact that this show takes place during Christmas. I don’t really enjoy things that are holiday-themed too much, because it sort of ruins the rewatch-ability for me a little bit. I’m also just not that much of a Christmas person … but anyway, it was handled well here and didn’t throw it too much into your face.
But before I get into anything too much, let’s just break down the episodes!
“Never Meet Your Heroes” – Episode 1
Like with TFATWS, this episode started off with our main characters/heroes not yet in the same frame. It was a good establishing episode, setting the tone for what’s to come.
The year is 2012 – a young Kate Bishop just eavesdropped on her parents’ fighting when suddenly, the battle of New York commences. She loses a lot, namely her dad, as a result, but a saving arrow from Hawkeye also inspires her to become a fighter and protector herself. She goes on to become excellent in martial arts and fencing as well as the use of a bow and arrow.
Kate isn’t just magnificent at everything she does, she’s also a bit of a troublemaker. While her skills are amazing, she’s responsible for the destruction of a bell/clock tower at her university and consequently has to go home for Christmas with quite the bad news.
Speaking of Christmas, the Bartons (minus Laura) spend it in New York. They are watching “Rogers – The Musical“, which I’m very conflicted about. Is it a super fun idea? Is it super ridiculous? Did they really have to add Ant-Man to the storyline about saving NYC, because he tests well with audiences? I’m not sure, however, I loved that re-introduction to Clint.
Barton is clearly still haunted by the loss of Nat. On top of that, we are reminded that he truly is just human, as his hearing has finally given up after the many explosions etc. he had to endure. Clint is now using a hearing aid and we later also see his youngest son, Nathaniel (named after Nat), using ASL to communicate with him. I love that Marvel is making more room for deaf or hard of hearing characters! (more on that later!)
Kate’s Christmas is quite different though. Where Clint and his family feel grounded and warm, Kate and her mother, albeit having a loving relationship, feel more distanced. Once Kate arrives in the city, she gets dragged to a charity event with her mother, Eleanor, and her fiancé, Jack, which Kate does not find out about in a great way.
Jack, is a nephew of Armand Duquesne III. Although it wasn’t stated in so many words, Armand Duquesne is a Marvel comic character and so is his son, Jacques Duquesne, who is also known as Swordsman. I think it’s fair to say that they’re hinting at that being this version’s Jack alter ego, because the man does love to collect swords.
At the charity event, a secret black market auction is also held. Armand and Jacques are present, while Kate spies on them. The items of the auction include dinosaur skulls, but also The Ronin’s sword and suit. However, the auction is interrupted by an explosion, caused by the Tracksuit Mafia, which is in search of a certain watch from the Avengers compound. I’m blanking on what that particular watch could potentially be for, but I’m sure it’s going to come back later in the season.
In order to help, Kate dons the suit of the Ronin and takes on some of the robbers. However, she didn’t expect them to still have beef with the Ronin from the time during the blip and a wild chase is started for her. Clint and his kids see the news about “the return of the Ronin” and he immediately knows that someone is in trouble and he needs to get his suit back.
Kate eventually finds a dog (which miraculously gets super clean from episode 1 to 2), which we might better know as Lucky the Pizza Dog, however, he is not yet named. She brings him to her apartment and then goes to spy on Armand III, just to find him dead in his apartment. The episode ends with Clint rescuing Kate from the Tracksuit Mafia, that have followed her.
“Hide and Seek” – Episode 2
I’m glad they aired the second episode right away, because it picks up exactly where the first one ended. It’s a really neat pacing for the show.
Clint evidently being shocked that a “kid” (Kate is 22 years old) donned the suit of his alter ego, tries to get her to safety. She’s obviously very stubborn and doesn’t listen too well and some fun banter ensues.
I don’t think we need the play by play of how the Tracksuit Mafia keeps finding Kate and Clint and they have to move houses (with the dog) to stay safe. It showed us how capable and always prepared Clint is, while also showcasing that Kate has real talent and skill.
Seen as both characters have very different objectives (Clint just wants to go home to his family, Kate wants to solve a murder and deal with her mother’s shady fiancé), they are barely on the same page.
Clint, in an attempt to get the suit back for good, goes to a Larper event, which is just hilarious to watch. There he meets Grills – in the comics, Grills is one of his neighbors, although I doubt he will show up more than once here. It was a nice cameo though.
In general, I enjoyed but was also surprised about how supportive Laura was of Clint. I’m glad to now know that he told her about everything he did during the Blip and she seems to understand his struggles. They really don’t have secrets – maybe that’s the recipe of why their marriage works so well.
Kate, on the other hand, antagonizes Jack further during dinner, while her mother doesn’t seem to see eye to eye with her daughter. Frankly, I get annoyed at adults who always feel like they need to protect their children and won’t listen to a word they say. However, I would like to point out that I also think Eleanor Bishop is quite shady.
In the comics, Eleanor Bishop was believed to be dead and Kate’s father was actually involved in the happenings of that. I could very much see them doing a role reversal here, because of the struggle between Kate’s parents in the pilot episode and Eleanor’s mysterious absence while her daughter was looking through the apartment for help during the 2012 alien attack. This is obviously just a guess. Another option is that Eleanor is involved with vampires (as she was turned into one in the comics) as they are becoming more and more of a thing in the MCU. Either way, I wouldn’t be sure she’s entirely on the “good” side of things, despite believing that she does everything to protect her daughter.
Eventually, Clint gets himself kidnapped by the Tracksuit Mafia to end things for good, but Kate, who wanted to tell him about her clues in the murder case of Armand, intervenes and actually makes the situation worse.
The episode ends on a shot of Maya Lopez aka Echo (portrayed by Native American actress Alaqua Cox). We know that Echo is a deaf martial arts athelete, who can copy people’s movements perfectly, who still has a bone to pick with Clint/the Ronin and therefore worked with the Tracksuit Mafia. She’s also getting her very own show! With Makkari and Echo, I’m really glad to see Marvel stepping up their game in terms of representation. It was direly needed!
Ultimately, I think this show could work well as a reminder of how inspiring Clint was as part of the Avengers. They did heroic stuff all the time, but we’ve never before seen their impact in such detail, truly focusing on one individual, like we do with Kate Bishop. I can see the humor being hit or miss with a lot of people, but I didn’t mind it. I’m looking forward to more, especially if they keep up the 45-minute-run-time for the episodes. Although, I’m sad to see there are only 6 episodes in total. It’s going to go by so fast.
I said Wednesdays are Marvel days, but I doubt I can keep this up until the release of Eternals/Hawkeye in November. Still, I did say I was going to do a ranking of all the “What If…?” episodes, so, here we are! You can get my full review/recap of each episode, by clicking on the titles. This ranking is completely subjective, but I hope you still enjoy it!
I always liked Killmonger as a character. He has purpose, an interesting history, is just generally charismatic, but … this episode didn’t add anything new for me? His path was still very similar to the one in “our” reality, just a tinge more ruthless. Also, it probably didn’t help a lot that I was quite tired of seeing Tony Stark perish at that point in the series …
I’m going to raise a similar point as the one above, but I just really don’t need to see the Avengers die in various ways over and over. I don’t find it particularly interesting nor creative and I even guessed the big reveal. I can’t say I found much that stayed with me after this one.
The purpose of this episode was to be fun and it did that. We got Darcy marrying Howard the Duck, Jane and Thor getting matching magic/science tattoos, the Ice Bros … all entertaining for sure. The story felt silly and had some logical faults (especially when it came to traveling via the Bifrost), but it wasn’t terrible.
When I watched the episode, I wasn’t very impressed. In a lot of ways, it was a shot for shot recreation of Captain America: The First Avenger, but with Peggy getting the serum. While that was a nice callback visually, there were few surprises, since we all know the story. However, the longer I watched the series, the more I liked it. It was a really good introduction to what the show would be like and included unexpected moments, like Steve wearing the first Iron Man suit or Bucky and Howard being besties.
I was always a huge Age of Ultron fan, so this was an interesting take. I liked the recreation of Nat sacrificing herself for the Soul Stone, but with the role reversal of Clint being the one to let go. Most of all, though, I liked that the Watcher was really involved in the episode and started an epic fight through the multiverse with an unhinged Ultron. It was a really good action sequence.
As far as season finales go, this wasn’t bad. It felt cohesive, put most of the puzzle pieces together and made the season a whole instead of an anthology. There could have been more interaction with the Watcher, but the team constellation was fun. If I had to criticize something, it’s the wasted chance of bringing Black Widow back into the live-action MCU, which would have been an easy choice. And, secondly, I think it’s a shame that they robbed Shuri and Pepper of the chance to dethrone Killmonger in their world.
It’s Zombies – need I say more? I’m not even that huge of a zombie fan, but I think they worked that particular sub-genre well into the world of Marvel. It was one of the more gruesome episodes, but I enjoyed myself, except for the last scene. It kind of ruined the vibe.
Even though I never watch all episodes of Black Mirror, I like the concept and quite a handful of stories from it. This episode felt like it was made with Black Mirror in mind and I loved that. It was twisted, had a dark ending, but also taught you a lesson of sorts. It was *so* close to being my favorite, and I’m not just saying that because I have a soft spot for Doctor Strange, the egomaniac.
This episode just made me happy! It works well on its own, without leaving you bumbed or too questioning about what comes next. It gave me an entirely unexpected pairing, which has now become one of my favorite ships – Nebula and Cha Cha – like, I’m seriously so grateful they were introduced to us. But most of all, it was a beautiful tribute to Chadwick Boseman, who I’m sure, many of us consider to have been just as much of a bright light and force of good as T’Challa was in this universe.
We’re back on this fine Wednesday (I say like it’s not raining where I live, then again, I do like rain) with another Marvel review – What If … The Watcher Broke His Oath? Spoilers for the episode ahead!
What was it about?
The Watcher assembles a team from across the mulitverse to fight Ultron.
This was … a good episode? Still a little packed, because of the minimal run time, but overall one of the better ones. It definitely felt like a season finale more than anything else, but then again, it seems like Marvel still has something up their sleeve for the upcoming season. Either way, this was an action-packed episode. Let’s break it down!
The Watcher finally decides to intervene and plucks the candidates for a team of his own from across the multiverse. Eventually he assembles the “Guardians of the Multiverse“, which consist of characters from previous episodes such as Captain Carter, Star Lord T’Challa, Killmonger, Party Thor and evil Doctor Strange. However, he also recruits a version of Gamora, who managed to kill her Thanos and save her universe with an infinity crusher (a device, designed to destroy infinity stones). I wonder why we haven’t gotten to see her story.
This odd mix of characters was quite fun to watch, but they don’t get a lot of bonding time before getting thrown into a fight with Ultron. It’s here that the zombies make a cameo again, but easily get defeated by the AI.
As T’Challa manages to steal the Soul Stone, the gang flees to another world, where they meet Natasha, the only survivor on her planet and the version we met the previous week. Ultron quickly catches up, but they manage to hold him down long enough to use the infinity crusher. Unfortunately, this course of action fails, as each infinity stone is unique to its world and the crusher was designed for only those of Gamora’s universe. I guess this is their way of talking themselves out of the power of the stones cancelling each other out once there are multiple versions in one world?
Ultimately, it all comes down to the Zola virus Nat managed to save because of Clint’s sacrifice last week. With Peggy’s help, she manages to drive the arrow home and Ultron is destroyed, but nothing is ever that easy.
Killmonger betrays the group and takes the stones for himself. He suggests to make everyone’s world the way they want it, to give everyone what they need/desire, but the other’s are having none of it. Before anyone can intervene, Zola wants to reclaim the stones though, starting a power struggle with Killmonger.
It’s at that moment, that Stephen realizes what he has to do. Now that the stones aren’t attached to a body, he freezes the fighting Zola, Killmonger and the infinity stones in a pocket dimension, becoming their watcher in the process. Let’s face it, he didn’t have anything else going on.
Everyone returns to the moment they were taken from their universe, their sacrifice unknown to everyone. Except for Nat, who gets taken to a world that had lost their widow. For a moment, I carried the slight hope that it would be our universe and that the Black Widow movie wouldn’t have been for nothing and way too late, but it wasn’t “ours”.
In the end, this was a decent episode. Very action-packed and not so much character focused, but it really tied what we had seen so far together. I appreciate that it wasn’t all for nothing.
This isn’t something really big about the episode, but I feel like, if you shipped Steve with Nat in the live-action movies, then you should 100% be able to ship Nat with Peggy because of what we’ve seen. Their chemistry was off the charts and I don’t care if they call each other BFFs or not. Usually, I’m not someone who needs to find characters to ship and advocate for loving platonic relationships, but some comments on the internet pissed me off. Consider this my rant, because I can’t tolerate intolerant people.
For some reason, I thought this was the penultimate episode, but alas, I was wrong. This felt like it tied up things neatly for the season, so it makes sense to end the story here for now. Maybe we will get to find out about Gamora after all some other time? I don’t really think so, but I also don’t know what’s about to happen. I would, however, love it if the episodes would have tied together with the finale of Loki and would explain what happened there. But again, this did not happen.
I’m pretty sure most of you know it by now, but it’s Wednesday and that means it’s Marvel review day! Today we’re talking about What If … Ultron Won? – spoilers ahead from here on out!
What was it about?
What if Ultron got himself a body, some infinity stones and the realization that there are several worlds he can bring his version of “peace” to? A heap of chaos, that’s what.
It’s odd – this was the first episode that actively connected to previous ones we’ve watched, but simultaneously it didn’t make sense if you considered last week. What am I referring to? Well, we clearly saw the Watcher distressed at Ultron’s appearance during the end scenes of What If … Thor Were an Only Child?, but now the course of Ultron’s story seemed to surprise him all over again. Simultaneously, we know that the episodes are connected now due to the final moments. It doesn’t fully make sense. I’m getting ahead of myself though, let’s break it down!
From the beginning, the Watcher seemed more invested in this universe. He said that it breaks his heart and it’s the one where Ultron managed to get hold of the body that would become Vision in the “regular world” and made it his own instead.
After deploying all the world’s nuclear weapons and extinguishing most of humanity in the process, Nat and Clint (who has a metal arm) seem to be the only ones left, the only hope alive.
All of a sudden, Thanos shows up, but Ultron doesn’t hesitate – he cuts him in half and takes the infinity stones for himself. This Thanos must have come for the mind stone, as that was seemingly the only one he was missing, giving Ultron a full set and therefore his own infinity armor (instead of the gauntlet).
With all that power, Ultron continues to bring his version of “peace” aka complete and utter destruction to all planets and life in the galaxy. Even an encounter with Captain Marvel didn’t stop him and he ultimately extinguished everything and everyone (except for Nat and Clint, but he doesn’t know that).
As he becomes a program without a purpose, he suddenly reaches a previously unattainable level of consciousness and becomes aware of the Watcher, who is terrified by his hunger. The realization that there are multiple universes gives him a new mission.
Through all of this, the Watcher could still not intervene, but only hope that Nat and Clint would find the answer in the Russian KGB archive they needed. Apparently Zola, the AI made from uploading a Hydra scientist’s brain, is the only one that could counteract Ultron’s code from within. In an attempt to upload Zola to the hive mind, Clint sacrifices his life – it perfectly mirrored Nat’s sacrifical scene from Endgame and I liked that in an odd way.
Meanwhile the Watcher and Vision are carrying out an epic battle throughout the multiverse. They crash from one reality into the next and you could barely keep up with what was happening (Steve Rogers seemed to be president of the US in one though …). Ultron is not invincible, but the Watcher eventually has to retreat and seek help.
Ultimately, the Watcher finds himself out of options and seeks lonely Doctor Strange from a couple episodes ago. He had been all by himself, in his single bubble, since the destruction of his universe and is only willing to help. We shall see if this team up will be effective.
So, we get another open end, but, at the same time, we are entering a phase of the show where everything starts to connect. As much as I still think What If …? has plenty of storytelling weaknesses in general and banks way too much on the viewers previous knowledge and emotional attachment to the characters, I’m intrigued by this development. I enjoy that it seems like there is an overall purpose and possibly something that will be really relevant to the MCU as a whole.
I bet a lot of people who mocked Age of Ultron (which was honestly always one of my favorites) are surprised just how much the characters from that movie came back in the shows this year.
Once again, I’m a little late, but I have written a review for the latest episode of What If …? titled What If … Thor Were an Only Child? From here on forward, there will be spoilers for the episode!
What was it about?
Thor, who never had to compete with or set an example for his brother, turned out quite differently – he became the Party Prince of Asgard!
We’ve established by now that I’m not the biggest fan of the show, so I don’t think we need to harp on it much more. I was, however, actually looking forward to Party-Thor, just because I knew it would be a more light-hearted episode and it didn’t disappoint in that regard. Then again, much like last week, this episode didn’t feel too imaginative to me. Did not having a brother really change Thor all that much, or were his parents just more lenient? I almost believe it’s the latter, but let’s just break down the episode bit by bit.
In this universe, Odin never adopted/kidnapped Loki and instead returned him to his birth father. This must have also quelled the war/animosity between Asgard and the Frost Giants, as it doesn’t seem to be an issue henceforth. This led to Thor and Loki growing up as friends, however, never as real brothers.
More than battles won or lost, it’s relationships that truly define a hero. The people who shape them, their stories.
Back on Earth Dr. Jane Foster and Darcy Lewis notice a pattern from outer space, guessing an alien invasion is about to happen. While they are right about the visitors being from somewhere else in the galaxy, it’s actually just Thor and his friend group deciding to go on a bender while Odin is asleep and Frigga is off to visit her sisters.
I’m not going to go into detail, but Thor turns the entire planet into an intergalactic party central and apparently once partied so hard on Alpha Star, it destroyed the whole thing. Jane, who met and fell in love with Thor in this version too (they even got matching tattoos), worries that he will accidentally be the end of Earth. Death by party?
The cameos in this episode are almost boundless. You have several characters from the Thor movies (Korg, the Grandmaster, Skurge, …), The Guardians of the Galaxy (Drax, Mantis, Nebula, …) as well as Howard the Duck again. Howard even gets married to Darcy. I’m not joking. That happened!
Maria Hill, who is acting director of SHIELD after Fury had a run in with an overexcited Korg, is ready to bring in the big guns to fight Thor and calls in Captain Marval aka Carol Danvers. They have a fight around the globe, but ultimately it is Jane who stops Thor by ratting him out to his mother.
All the alien visitors help Thor clean up his mess on Earth, but he still gets caught. It nevertheless serves as a lesson to the God of Thunder to become more mature and he eventually asks out Jane on a real date. The end? Happily ever after? Not quite!
The final scene, because why would we ever just end on a happy note, showed an evil Ultron appearing with all infinity stones. What does it mean? Who even knows at this point …
I’m a little tired of the cliffhangers, BUT I am intrigued by this one in particular. The thing is, The Watcher seemed surprised by the end himself. So far, no matter how bleak the outcome, he always knew that it had to be the fate of that particular universe or character. However, at the end of the episode, he appeared to be flustered by the appearance of Ultron, possibly not expecting it. So, what could it mean?
I can’t help but wonder if this Ultron breached from a different universe, which would slowly fold into the Loki series storyline of the multiversal chaos we are about to witness. The only reason I’m hesitant to fully buy into this theory is that his infinity stones would effectively be useless if he were from another universe. At least in the comics, it is impossible for more than one set of infinity stones to exist in the same realm and remain powerful. It’s like they cancel each other out. Another theory is that he might be from the future, which would still work, but not really explain the Watcher’s surprise. We might never get an answer, so this could potentially just remain another frustrating loose end, but there is a chance that this might be the first multi-chapter story within the What If …? stories. We shall see!
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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. However, I did get vibes from them. While I’d like for the MCU to reflect that men and women can just be friends … I can’t deny vibes either. 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.
What are your thoughts on the episode and the movie? Let’s talk!