Marvel’s What If…?: “What If…Thor was an Only Child” (Episode 7) Review
*This Review Contains Full Spoilers*
I feel like a broken record saying it, but Marvel’s What If…? continues its unevenness with an episode focusing on Thor’s partying antics that’s full of cliché story beats and contains no substance.
Rather than just rip from a direct story in the canon, aside from maybe the first Thor movie, this episode, “What If…Thor was an Only Child,” gives us a glimpse into what would happen if Odin never adopted Loki (voiced by Tom Hiddleston) and Thor remained an only child. The big issue is that this episode doesn’t do much to create a different impression of Thor and only creates poor impressions of familiar characters. Thor has never really been this upstanding hero and has always had party animal vibes, so the only “difference” is that this party animal within him comes out in full blast as he creates a world-destroying, intergalactic party on Earth.
At first, this seems like a fun idea as it could bring Marvel’s intergalactic universe together in a fun way. This episode is chock full of Guardians and S.H.I.E.L.D. cameos and plenty of other familiar faces, but they never amount to anything special. Just some lackluster jokes and mediocre screen time. We even get to see what Loki looks like as a Bifrost giant and although that would seem like we would get a different kind of Loki, it’s not one that’s exciting or ambitious. He might be big and blue and even have a tighter relationship with Thor since they didn’t have to compete for Odin’s love, but his “bro” attitude just matches Thor’s in an uninteresting way.
This entire episode just has this loose and wild feel to it that likely stems from party animal Thor driving the action that almost makes the story and character arcs non-existent. There’s no real moment where Thor has to clean up his act aside from an incredibly cliché final sequence where he has to clean up his party before his mother Frigga (voiced by Josette Eales) arrives to spoil the fun. Honestly, the main women in this episode are portrayed really badly as they basically fit into one of two camps – party poopers or wild love interests.
The return of Captain Marvel (voiced by Alexandra Daniels) and Maria Hill (voiced by Colbie Smulders) sees them as these overly serious party poopers that are no fun. The return of Jane Foster (voiced by Natalie Portman) and Darcy (voiced by Kat Dennings) isn’t much better as they are portrayed as these wild love interests that mostly sees Jane just drooling over Thor for most of the episode. Foster at least gets some moments for her to stand on her own and make a difference in stopping Thor’s non-stop partying in her own way, but it still feels like this character is trapped in this love interest role – which is a shame because Foster has so much depth and attention in the comics. It’s a shame too that after such a fun stint on WandaVision, Darcy retreats back into being an overbearing comic relief. There’s just no real depth to these female characters and they’re just sidelined into roles that don’t allow them to be something more. Hopefully, both Thor: Love and Thunder and The Marvels can do better.
The only really great thing this episode can offer is an epic battle between Captain Marvel and Thor that’s improved by it being animated. With their bout being animated, there’s no limit to how their fighting can be elevated visually. It’s a blast to see Thor knock Captain Marvel into different countries and their intense powers cause this epic fight in the clouds that looks like a lightning storm. It could’ve definitely gone to Dragon Ball levels of epic, but it’s still a lot of fun to watch, nevertheless.
Although a What If…? focusing on Thor throwing an intergalactic party on Earth sounds like a fun idea, it just ends up dragging the series down to its lowest point yet. It contains no real story or stakes, certainly does no favors for its female characters, and is an idea that’s solely meant to set up its final scene that’s hinting at big crossover that will hopefully be stronger than this.