Wednesday, September 8, 2021

What If...?: Episode 5

5. What If... Zombies!?
In an alternate universe, Bruce Banner is sent back to warn the Avengers about Thanos’ plans to a world dominated by zombies, including the Avengers themselves. As Hank Pym traveled to the Quantum Realm two weeks prior to rescue his wife, he was welcomed by a zombie virus-infected Janet Van Dyne. A surviving group of uninfected heroes head to Camp Lehigh in New Jersey where a cure is said to be waiting. One by one they fall along the way: Happy Hogan, Sharon Carter, Hope Van Dyne. The rest discover Vision at their destination who claims to have found a cure through the mind stone but can’t heal a zombified Wanda who is just too powerful, feeding her with human sacrifices instead. Kurt, Bucky, Okoye, and the Hulk sacrifice themselves as the Vision commits suicide and T’Challa is rescued. Peter Parker holds on to the infinity stone en route to Wakanda with Black Panther and Ant-Man’s severed but alive head. Outside Wakanda’s barrier stands a zombified Thanos with his infinity gauntlet in hand.

Will this show ever disappoint? Seriously? The MCU has not really dealt with horror just yet, what more the zombie subgenre. While not too terrifying to have you screaming on your bed with jump scares, the episode has an eerie Train to Busan vibe, perhaps because of the premise and the train setting along with all the zombie subplots that by now we are already familiar with. Did I mention Okoye is here too? Danai Gurira is becoming a staple of TV Zombieland. In the end, what makes this interesting as with some previous episodes is the new team-up of heroes every week, some of whom never really got to interact onscreen and probably no longer would. My only qualm about this storyline is how Wanda, of all people, got infected by the zombie virus, although I acknowledge that her subplot is indeed convenient to tie neatly with Vision’s who they have to frame as some sort of reluctant villain with a redemption arc. All in all, a good tribute to the genre care of the MCU. The episode is rather weird but hella fun.

“Like too many great catastrophes, this one sprang from a place of love and hope.” –Uatu

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