A key element to every hero’s journey is the relationships they make along the way. It doesn’t matter if these people are good or bad, as they make a defining influence on our protagonist. Take Thor and his connection to his brother Loki as it made him into the hero he is today. This episode of Marvel’s What If…? explores what if Thor was an only brother. The dramatic path he would have taken goes down a wacky, fun detour that makes for a delightful outing.
Marvel’s What If…? is available to stream on Disney+. If you missed it last week, you could read about the sixth episode.
Story: Thor Odinson’s Day Off
It seems a little ridiculous that Thor would be this irresponsible party god without Loki as his brother. But, The Watcher does a good job by briefly explaining how Loki influenced his childhood. By showing a picture of them together as kids, we believe that he didn’t get any interactions that shaped him. Instead, he doesn’t care about any responsibility and just wants to party. It’s interesting to note that this timeline might be the most peaceful as enemies and heroes get along. Maybe because it doesn’t show the threats around, but it’s still fascinating when you think about it. Thor decides to go to Earth and throw a massive intergalactic party while Odin is in a deep sleep.
The whole tone takes on a classic 80s’ party movie, and that’s a ton of fun to witness. We get to see so many different cameos, and it’s great to see these interactions. Just like a great party, you never want it to end. Things get hairy when SHIELD gets involved, and the story hits a snag. It makes sense that they would see this as a threat, but the escalation feels forced. The stubbornness of SHIELD could have been preventable if someone just would have listened to Jane Foster. This Thor is just a party animal, not a world-destroyer god that wants to invade Earth.
Characters & Performances: My Thor Wants to Party All the Time
Chris Hemsworth does a spectacular job of fully embracing the fun-loving side of the God of Thunder. His charm is infectious as you want to join in with all the exciting chaos around him. We’ve seen glimpses of this before in the first Thor movie or Thor: Ragnarok, but it’s turned up to eleven in this episode. It never gets annoying or grating on your nerves as the likeability from Hemsworth is off the charts. There’s been a progression of his performance that makes his character less stiff and enjoyable to watch. It’s a balance of seriousness and goofiness that we see in the main timeline. In this episode, the comedic side is taken to the next level in the best possible way.
He’s joined by Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman, and it’s easily the best outing of the character. Her past appearances weren’t bad because of Portman’s acting, but more of the writing. In this episode, the angle that she gets is the fish out of water when she interacts with this god. Then being the connection for SHIELD helps make her someone who’s pivotal but doesn’t feel forced. Hopefully, we get this kind of relationship and chemistry when she returns in Thor: Love and Thunder. We also get one of the most entertaining Loki and Thor relationships in the MCU. The big twist with them of being brothers from another mother kind of way is very entertaining and sticks out as one of the best elements in the story. Again, if Thor and Loki weren’t brothers, maybe it would have been the best timeline for everyone.
Cinematography & Sound: Captain Marvel vs. Thor
Part of the fun of showing off the intergalactic gathering has it in Las Vegas. This shows off the bright neon colors that help inject a lot of energy into this episode. The bright purple and dark blues make it stand out from the drab scenes when we weren’t focused on the shenanigans with Thor. Then add in Captain Marvel’s vivid energy from her, and it’s spectacular to see. Along with the lighthearted tone, there’s also a playful spirit from the score by Laura Karpman. It’s like the MCU take on 80s movies, and it’s a nice change of pace in the universe.
We also get a Captain Marvel vs. Thor fight scene, which oddly feels underwhelming. You have two of the most powerful characters in the MCU up against each other, and it’s not bad, but it doesn’t live up to its potential. Imagine the hype and build-up on seeing which of the two all-powerful heroes would win in the fight, and it’s just average. Again, it’s not a bad encounter, but it could have been so much more, especially in the realm of animation, where the possibilities are just endless.
Editing & Pacing: A Watcher Surprise
Since the plot of this episode is simple, the pace doesn’t become dull as a process. We spend enough time with the celebration on Earth before it gets too tiring and annoying as a result. Even with the forced intervention of SHIELD and Captain Marvel, it makes sense with the timing. We also get some amazing montages of everyone celebrating that are laugh-out-loud hilarious. You’ll never look at some of these famous landmarks like the Statue of Liberty again.
It ends on a nice note until we get such a last-minute conclusion that’s very out of nowhere. The ending is so abrupt that even the Watcher is surprised by it. We’ve got a couple of these endings throughout the season, but the payoff is still unknown. With some elements still lingering, who knows what will come up next? Some promotional material has shown heroes from the different timelines together, yet the antagonist remains a mystery.