This week on What If…? comes the episode that was probably the most anticipated of them all. Most likely because it’s the one with the simplest and easiest to explain premise: Marvel Zombies. Indeed in this universe, a plague is brought into the world from a mysterious source. The virus spreads eventually reaching the Avengers, and once they become infected, there’s no hope left. Bruce Banner lands on Earth to warn the Avengers about Thanos, but the world is already beyond saving.
Like with a lot of zombie based fiction, it’s often hard to believe that slow moving, rotting corpses could so easily take over the world. This becomes even more outlandish when said world is populated with several super-powered beings, all of whom could probably single-handedly deal with a zombie outbreak. Vision and Scarlet Witch alone could probably have handled this issue. However, the logistics of zombie epidemiology become irrelevant if the story you’re telling is an entertaining one. Which this episode is, for the most part.
The rag-tag group of MCU survivors is an interesting combination of characters that have rarely, if ever, interacted in the mainline canon (another benefit to having a show like this of course). Seeing Kurt from the Ant-Man films was a bit of a shock and possibly was a character that was just added as a joke since he doesn’t really affect the plot. Though of course it was fun to see him interact with characters that reside outside of San Francisco. This would have been more fun had they actually brought back Tom Holland, who is weirdly absent from this episode, despite being confirmed for a future instalment down the line.
What was most enjoyable though was the involvement of Bucky Barnes, who gets more to do and more importance in this thirty minute episode than he did in an entire mini series in which he’s one of the two main characters.
The story of this episode will be very familiar to anyone that’s seen at least a few zombie films in the past. Admittedly there’s not much you can really do with zombies that’s original anymore especially when you’ve only got half an hour to do anything in. The difference being of course that this zombie story involves some of your favourite heroes.
While the story is a vague amalgamation of a lot of standard plots, there are some very obvious direct references to films, which shows the writers knew their inspirations well. Peter Parker does a Zombie training video (which was a bit cringe worthy and unbelievable, especially given Holland’s absence) in reference to Zombieland. Plus a few scenes take place on a train, which, yep you guessed it, is in reference to Train to Busan.
This week’s episode was a good bit of fun that pays homage to a beloved genre with a few heartfelt moments. There are some interesting points where the writers seem to address complaints from previous MCU Disney+ projects from this year, but otherwise this is exactly what it says on the tin.
What If…? is streaming weekly on Disney+.