Episode 7: “What If… Thor Were an Only Child?”
BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
SEPTEMBER 25, 2021
“More than battles won or lost, it’s relationships that truly define a hero. The people who shape them, their stories.”— The Watcher (Jeffrey Wright)
Every episode of “What If” up to this point has felt on the darker, more severe side. Evil Doctor Strange, zombie Avengers, Tony Stark vs. Killmonger. But “What If… Thor Were an Only Child?” finally takes a lighter approach.
Instead of adopting Loki, Odin returns him to the Frost Giants. That leaves Thor to grow up alone, not learning some of the lessons that Loki would have taught him. He ends up being the equivalent of a Norse fratboy. When his father enters the Odinsleep, and his mother departs Asgard to visit family, Thor uses that time to treat Midgard (aka Earth) as his very own playground.
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like for a God to come down and party in Las Vegas, that’s what this episode aims to answer. And it’s just as fun as it sounds.
Messing mainly with the timeline of the first “Thor” film, the episode still sees scientist Jane Foster meeting Thor. Darcy Lewis is also there, but this time she’s more focused on Howard The Duck. Loki is not in Asgard to take the throne from Odin this time around and, therefore, does not send the Destroyer to kill Thor. Instead, he’s a Frost Giant and gets along very well with Thor. His “brother from another mother,” if you will. He even joins in on the party.
The drama of the episode comes from Thor wreaking havoc all over Earth. S.H.I.E.L.D. tries to step in, but when Nick Fury is rendered unconscious by a stampeding Korg, Maria Hill takes control and borrows the receiver that calls Captain Marvel (seen in the ends credits of “Avengers: Infinity War”). Upon Captain Marvel’s arrival, she battles Thor in a Superman-like brawl all over the globe. It’s not until Jane gets Heimdall and Thor’s mother, Frigga, involved that Thor sees the errors of his way. And not a moment too soon, as S.H.I.E.L.D. points nukes at Thor.
The voice cast for this episode is impressive. Chris Hemsworth reprises his role of Thor, while Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings, Tom Hiddleston, and Jaimie Alexander all return to their characters Jane, Darcy, Loki, and Lady Sif, as well. Jeff Goldblum and Taika Waititi are back for their “Thor: Ragnarok” characters. At the same time, Karen Gillan is the only Guardian of the Galaxy to return, despite Rocket and Drax being in the episode. Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, and Clark Gregg all reprise their roles as agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Not returning is Brie Larson as Captain Marvel, with Alexandra Daniels taking the vocal mantel once again. Josette Eales voices Frigga instead of Rene Russo, and Seth Green is back as Howard the Duck. Odin and Heimdall do not speak, so no need for Anthony Hopkins or Idris Elba. And Jeffrey Wright once again voices The Watcher.
My relationship with Marvel is often marred by the humor rising too much to the surface. Still, in a series that has been relatively doom and gloom for six episodes, this comical interlude was much needed and perfectly delivered. Not to mention, the stinger at the end opens the door to so many more “What If” possibilities.
September 22, 2021
Jeffrey Wright … The Watcher (voice)
Chris Hemsworth … Thor (voice)
Natalie Portman … Jane Foster (voice)
Tom Hiddleston … Loki (voice)
Kat Dennings … Darcy (voice)
Samuel L. Jackson … Nick Fury (voice)
Jeff Goldblum … Grandmaster (voice)
Cobie Smulders … Maria Hill (voice)
Clark Gregg … Agent Coulson (voice)
Frank Grillo … Brock Rumlow (voice)
Taika Waititi … Korg (voice)
Karen Gillan … Nebula (voice)
Jaimie Alexander … Lady Sif (voice)
Seth Green … Howard the Duck (voice)
Alexandra Daniels … Carol Danvers / Captain Marvel (voice)
Rachel House … Topaz (voice)
Josette Eales … Frigga (voice)
David Chen … Hogun / Additional Voices (voice)
Fred Tatasciore … Volstagg / Drax / Additional Voices (voice)
Max Mittelman … Fandral / Additional Voices (voice)
Clancy Brown … Surtur (voice)