Opening in the continuity of WHAT IF… CAPTAIN CARTER WERE THE FIRST AVENGER? with the very beginning of Captain Carter’s version of THE WINTER SOLDIER (something it’s rumoured that WHAT IF…? Season 2 will circle back to cover), WHAT IF…THE WATCHER BROKE HIS OATH? begins with our constant narrator doing just that in spectacular fashion as he raids previous episodes of the series (and, in one case an unfinished episode) to recruit a team of Guardians Of The Multiverse in an attempt to neutralise the omnipresent threat of the multiversal Ultron.
In addition to Captain Carter, we get Star-Lord T’Challa (as well as a brief glimpse of Ego and that universe’s Peter Quill), Killmonger, party boy Thor and an appearance by an alternative Tony Stark and Gamora on Nidavellir (from the unfinished episode) which results, much to Tony’s chagrin, in Gamora being recruited and not him. Brought together by the Watcher and dark Doctor Strange,
Where previous episodes have muddled through with mostly replacement cast members, this season finale immediately impresses with its collection of original cast. Chris Hemsworth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael B Jordan and Hayley Atwell all report for duty and Kurt Rusell himself returns to deliver Ego’s single line of dialogue. Of course, this episode is destined for notability for one poignant reason: it gives us the final performance of Chadwick Boseman before his untimely death.
While it may not be the epitaph anyone would have chosen, it does at least provide a suitably epic setting for T’Challa’s last appearance, pulling together every single episode of the series thus far – yes, including the zombie one in a battle which spans multiple worlds and multiple rounds without ever feeling forced or repetitive.
In common with many of the Marvel Disney+ series, it does feel like a pretty good (in this case animated) movie has been padded out to provide enough content to be serialised across multiple weeks in service of a subscription-building strategy. As the Marvel content conveyor belt gets ever more crowded, spreading a multiverse across multiple platforms, you have to wonder how much room there will continue to be for quirky little side projects like this.