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What If…? Episode 3 Follows Through on One of My Favorite Cartoon Premises

Hope. It's all about Hope.

What If Nick Fury

Spoilers for What If…? episode 3

Two of my favorite cartoon episodes of all time are from The New Batman Adventures and Gargoyles. In both episodes (“Over the Edge” for Batman and “Future Tense” for Gargoyles) we get a “what if” scenario where a lot of our favorite characters are killed, arrested, and emotionally devastated by the people they trust the most.

That being said, these episodes both reveal that nothing we’d watched for those extremely tense 20-some minutes was real. In reality, all of the characters are alive and still on good terms with each other. Still, the unexpectedly dark turn made for a wild ride, and in the end, I breathed a sigh of relief when greeted with the Wizard of Oz like moment of, “But it wasn’t a dream, it was a place, and you, and you, and you, and YOU were there…”


What if.

It was real?

In last week’s episode of What If…? fans pointed out that yes, T’Challa did a lot of good in the galaxy, but The Collector, apparently, killed off quite a few people and kept their weapons as trophies.

That being said, we don’t get to see any of those deaths, but OOF, they are present and accounted for in this third episode.

Initially, I reacted to this in the same way Nick Fury does. I didn’t think Tony had DIED in the midst of curing his hangover with bacon and eggs. Once he was declared dead my immediate thoughts were a mix of “this is an illusion” and “this is an elaborate setup to lure out the real villain.”

I thought for sure that he wasn’t dead, even if the entire premise of What If…? is “these are different universes with unlimited possibilities.”

It didn’t occur to me that those possibilities could be fatal, or rather, it didn’t occur to me that the fatal possibilities would be permanent in certain universes.

As more of the Avengers were killed off I thought, “Okay, this is like those Batman and Gargoyles episodes.” This feeling was boosted by the fact that Loki shows up with an entire Asgardian army. That was my AHA! moment, my undeniable proof that this was all an elaborate hoax by the Trickster God. They weren’t really killing off the Avengers one by one, were they? Thor just got here!

But alas, everyone on the team dies. The Avengers Initiative as we knew it from the MCU had legitimately been destroyed before Nick Fury could even get it off the ground.

I thought that, maybe, Natasha would make it, as she spent a lot of the episode helping Fury figure out what was happening. But Pym was extremely thorough in making sure that no one on Fury’s list of candidates survived.


While I’ve been thoroughly enjoying these What If…? episodes, this is the one that really showed me what this series could (and would) do. I adore these differing definitions we’ve gotten of “what if” – first with Captain Carter retreading the familiar steps of the First Avenger, then T’Challa coming out of left field with his galactic travels, and now? The entire universe that we’ve watched for well over a decade destroyed in a single thirty-minute episode because of a very bitter Hank Pym.

After this, there really is no telling where the rest of these episodes will go. This one definitely shows us that What If…? isn’t afraid to take a darker turn where major characters we’ve come to know and love are killed – not just off-screen, and not just in a heroic sacrifice, but right before our eyes via cold-blooded murder.


(Image: Marvel Studios)

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Briana (she/her - bisexual) is trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series or the pieces she writes. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of manga, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to her Animal Crossing pumpkin patch (it's Halloween forever, deal with it Nook)