Peggy Carter standing and smiling in What If

‘Marvel’s What If…?’ Brings Us Its Hottest Episode Yet in the Shakespearean Times

What’s hot? Shakespeare. I don’t make the rules, I’m just a former performance theatre major. So when I watch things like Marvel’s What If…? and get to see my favorite characters living at the time of William Shakespeare and all functioning at different times in the 1600s, I can’t help but get excited. That’s what “What If…the Avengers Assembled in 1602?” gives us.

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The episode, which is all centered around Captain Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) getting stuck back in the 17th century, provides us another look into a new kind of team-up of Avengers. As has been the case with Marvel’s What If…?, what works with episodes like this (when we get to see an alternate version of the Avengers) is that we get to see different set-ups, team members, and more that just work for us as fans of these Marvel characters.

More than that, what was so great about episode 8 was that it really let us explore these characters in a time period that is beyond fun to see through a modern sensibility. We’ve seen shows do this in the past, famously with things like Doctor Who. But putting the Avengers at the time of Shakespeare makes for chaos, fun, and witches, and I loved every second of it.

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The season of the witch

wanda using her magic in what if

While the episode was an alternate reality because there was a “forerunner” who was out of his timeline there (who ended up being Steve Rogers, out of time), it was nice to see some of our favorite characters accepted at a time when they would have literally burned. Like Wanda Maximoff.

Called “the Witch” during the episode, Wanda is working with Thor, using her powers to try and figure out who is ripping apart their world. What I loved about Wanda in this episode is that she joined the side of the Avengers when it mattered the most. Though she worked with Thor through most of the episode, she turned on him when they needed her to.

On the flip side of that, there were characters, like Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who just kind of stuck to what they wanted to do the entire time and it was very fun to see as well.

A god just trying to love Shakespeare

Loki loving Shakespeare in What If

Watching Loki talk about Shakespeare the entire episode is genuinely funny. He is not at all interested in what is going on with Thor, doesn’t really want to be bothered by the Forerunner or whatever is going on with the world at large, and would rather be involved with the next play that William Shakespeare is writing. Which happens to be Othello and he clearly thinks that he’s going to play Iago.

As a theatre kid, I get it. If I was alive during the time of Shakespeare, that is all I would care about. I would not care about whatever nonsense was going on with my brother. Well, let me clarify: I would care about the witch (Wanda) and Shakespeare. Other than that, that’s all. Maybe I would be interested in Steve Rogers and his Robin Hood-esque antics but I would probably be more interested in the writing of Shakespeare, especially once Macbeth came out in 1606.

But as we were waiting for the new Shakespeare to appear, I would probably be a member of that Robin Hood team, if we’re being honest.

What a rag-tag team!

The robin hood team in Marvels What if...?

Steve Rogers’ Robin Hood team is comprised of Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Scott Lang (Paul Rudd). Later in the episode, we get Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and Tony Stark (Mick Wingert) joining the team with Peggy but it is nice to see this crew of Avengers all together in this form. Tony is a mess and I love it very much, Bruce is incredibly upset by having to be locked up in his “Man in the Iron Mask” era, and Scott is just happy to be included with Bucky.

Every aspect of this episode is just so much fun and it was so sad to see them go in the end when the Forerunner was discovered in the end.

(featured image: Disney+)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.