DISCLAIMER: This recap of the What If…? episode “What If… Thor Was an Only Child?” is riddled with spoilers. Proceed at your peril, Midgardians.
Welcome back, Marvel fans! This week’s What If…? outing is quite a different breed compared to its predecessors. “What If… Thor Was an Only Child?” plays on the god of thunder’s capacity for lightheartedness and humor. It’s fun, cotton-candy-fluffy and straightforward in its premise and a departure from the usual high-stakes fare we’ve seen thus far.
Of course, we see a rise in stakes toward the end of the episode. The cliffhanger involving the arrival of Vision-Ultron certainly alters the narrative. I hope this ending gets a resolution soon!
While it’s easy to think the ramifications of Thor’s partying ways are nonexistent (I mean, who doesn’t love to have fun?), What If…? sneakily conceals those repercussions underneath all the Vegas fun and Fandral’s many goats. It highlights the importance of Loki in Thor’s life — the god of mischief shapes who Thor is and catalyzes many significant MCU events on the sacred timeline.
But it’s worth noting Thor still has a sister: Hela (this is Hela erasure).
Ready to delve into “What If… Thor Was an Only Child”? Let’s get to it.
We open with the Watcher (Jeffrey Wright), ushering in a new tale. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) attempt to warn S.H.I.E.L.D. about an oncoming alien invasion. We see Thor (Chris Hemsworth) arrive in Vegas with Lady Sif and his crew. He tells everyone their dull lives are going to change because the party prince is here!
In a flashback, we see Odin return baby Loki to his Frost Giant family. Thor never experiences an Asgardian childhood with Loki, which drastically changes his trajectory.
Back on Asgard, Odin falls into a deep slumber. Frigga (Josette Eales) seizes the opportunity to celebrate the solstice with her gal pals, entrusting Thor with, well, everything. She orders him to study the Nine Realms he’ll one day rule. But once she departs, it’s party central. Thor and his buddies sneak past Heimdall and make a break for Earth.
Now, the partygoers consist of more than just Asgardians. We see the shapeshifting Skrulls, Ravagers, Drax, Nebula, The Grandmaster, Korg, Mantis and more.
Next, Jane determines that Thor is the first extraterrestrial to arrive on Earth. Darcy wanders off with Howard the Duck for half-priced nachos (this is a pairing I can get behind).
Jane approaches Thor and questions him regarding Alpha Star Icarus and its death. The event preceding it happened again that night. Did he have anything to do with Alpha Star Icarus’s demise? Thor butters her up and insists it was merely a fun party, and Jane falls for him hook, line and sinker.
What transpires is a montage of epic party proportions. Every frat bro would seethe with envy. Darcy and Howard the Duck experience a Vegas wedding when an Elvis impersonator marries them. Jane and Thor get tattoos. Even the Grandmaster deejays the event.
The following day, Jane wakes up in a hotel room. We see everyone is asleep save her. Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) knocks on her door. She’s the Acting Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. since Nick Fury is indisposed, thanks to Korg’s cannonball.
So, Maria wants Jane to help them eradicate Thor. After all, Jane was the one who initially reported the alien invasion. We hear Thor remark on the “cute rabbit” in the sink — it’s Rocket Raccoon! I appreciate this Easter egg.
Meanwhile, Maria procures Fury’s transmitter pager so that she can call Captain Marvel. Thor is currently in Paris, posing for selfies with the Sovereign.
Suddenly, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) appears with his Frost Giant gang. Naturally, he looks a bit different. When you think the pair might duke it out, we see the “brothers from another mother” lovingly gush about each other. It’s a far cry from the complex relationship we’ve seen on the sacred timeline.
Then, Captain Marvel (Alexandra Daniels) makes her grand entrance, equipped with her astounding superpowers and 80s/90s pop culture references. She orders Thor to pack it up, and however, Thor christens her a “party pooper.” The pair wind up in Stonehenge and the American desert amid their ensuing fight. There are lots of punching.
Methinks the What If…? team wanted a Carol Danvers/Thor showdown, and I’m here for it.
Later, Captain Marvel returns to Maria Hill empty-handed because Thor is a worthy opponent. After Maria chastises CM, Darcy fawns over her, and she wants to work for Captain Marvel. Jane receives a phone call from Thor, who reassures her that he didn’t cause Alpha Star Icarus’s death with his constant partying.
Next, Darcy comes up with the idea of retrieving Frigga. What does a partier fear more than anything? Why, their mother, of course!
Captain Marvel transports Thor to Siberia after another party montage featuring a slew of extraterrestrials (including a flirtatious Surtur who the Statue of Liberty turns on). Meanwhile, Jane contacts Heimdall, who directs her to Frigga.
Maria Hill prepares to decimate Thor, but Jane is hard at work telling Frigga about her debaucherous son. Thankfully, before Maria kills him, a hologram of Frigga pops up. Frigga reprimands Thor and claims she’s heading home to Asgard.
Then, Thor frantically attempts to coerce his compatriots/party pals into cleaning up Earth. He successfully taps into his powers of persuasion, and we see everyone return the planet to its normal state. Loads of tidying up are happening here.
Later, Frigga finds Thor studying hard on Asgard with his friends. Captain Marvel pops by with more studying material to legitimize his claims of innocence. Frigga buys it until she spots Mjolnir, which contains evidence of his rager.
Next, Thor visits Jane on Midgard, and he asks her out on a proper date. Suddenly, we see Vision-Ultron and his lackeys emerge from a portal, cornering Thor.
Overall, this is a delightful outing, and I’m curious to see how it plays out. Howard the Duck marrying Darcy in Vegas is easily one of my favorite parts of the episode. Hemsworth gives a fantastic vocal performance as our partying god of thunder, and I’m convinced that no one else can (or should) play him.
I love the homage to the “party bro” trope and the classic clean-up-before-mom-gets-home bit.
New episodes of What If…? are available to stream every Wednesday on Disney Plus.