Zombies… why did it have to be zombies?
The living dead have been a plague upon pop culture especially in the past decade or so, and now the MCU is taking a bite out of the trend.
This installment of What If…? marries the MCU with some of the beats of Marvel’s 2005 limited series comic Marvel Zombies written by Robert Kirkman with art by Sean Phillips.
Taking place at what would have been the beginning events of Infinity War, Bruce Banner returns to a very different earth that’s been infected by a zombie-like quantum virus brought back by Janet van Dyne. Clearly, this show really hates the van Dyne-Pym family.
Even knowing what this episode is about it’s still shocking to see the Iron Man, Wong, and Doctor Strange zombies appear out of the portal when Bruce thinks they’ve come to his aid against the Black Order.
A hilarious instructional video created by Peter Parker catches Bruce and the audience up on how to avoid becoming zombies (yes, there is a scene with Bucky in the shower, and yes the internet is going to be thirsting over an animated character).
The remaining ragtag group of superhero survivors led by Spider-Man, Okoye, and Hope van Dyne has to band together to face off against zombie Avengers and cure the population.
This leads to some unusual pairings, a technique that has become a strong suit of this season. Who knew Hope van Dyne would become a mentor and friend to Peter Parker? He definitely has a crush on her, but who wouldn’t?
Hope admires Peter’s optimism and he admires her strength. It’s nice to see her interact with someone other than the dopey Scott for a change (though we love him too and his floating head in this episode).
And having Kurt from Ant-Man as part of this team wins the biggest “really, him?” award from the entire season so far. So random.
Sharon making fun of Happy for saying “blam” out loud when he shoots his gauntlets only to lose him moments later shows this episode isn’t pulling any punches though.
Although the episode has plenty of inspirational moments and quips, it can also be quite bitter and ends on a truly sour note.
Heroes are forced to kill their zombie friends or die at their hands. Bucky slicing Captain America in half with his own shield is particularly gruesome. He tells him it’s the end of the line as an extra twist of the knife. It’s second only in gross factor to Hope expanding inside of Sharon’s zombie corpse.
The reveal that Vision captured T’Challa to feed the zombified Wanda, who he’s unable to use the cure on, is downright sickening. It makes Wanda’s actions in WandaVision seem humane in comparison. These two can never be happy, can they?
In the comics, T’Challa is captured by Giant-Man to be his food source, but I guess Hank went through enough on Episode 3.
And in the end, despite risking it all to save humanity using the mind stone, a zombie Thanos is waiting in the wings. The Watcher implies that by saving the world they’ll just end up destroying it anyway.
Fans of zombies may be willing to overlook its flaws but the episode overall doesn’t land as well as it could. The episode isn’t scary enough to be horror or funny enough to be satire. It’s awkwardly in between the two, leading to a slightly less than satisfying and very depressing story.
This is one What If…? that should stay a standalone episode.
What did you think of this episode? Let us know in the comments.
New episodes of What If…? premiere on Wednesdays on Disney Plus.