I don’t normally write reviews, certainly not for TV show episodes. Yet, here I am with a What If Captain Carter Were The First Avenger review. The first episode of Marvel’s What If…? aired today on Disney+ and unlike most TV series, this has an anthology feel to it which I think merits individual reviews. I get the feeling you could hate one episode and love another pretty easily with this format, so let’s get to it. Oh first off, is it just me or is the title bad grammar? Should it not be, ‘what if Captain Carter was the first Avenger?’, were would normally be used there for a collective, a group, not an individual. Anyway!
The Captain Carter episode pretty much played out almost as I imagined it would. Likely this episode is the one we have all seen the most of from trailers, so there was always going to be less surprises. Then again, perhaps a few surprises would have been nice and there was not much here on that front. I’ll start with what I enjoyed. The animation style was fine, I’m no big animation fan, or expert, so it was…fine. I thought the action scenes were the best part of the show and set up really well. The majority of the voice work was good, to average. As for the actual story, it really was just Captain America: The First Avenger told by switching Steve and Peggy around, so not a tricky one to master.
A Mixed Bag
However, the episode had a lot going against it as well.
For a start everything feels so damn rushed. Part of that is trying to squeeze the plot of a two hour movie into a half-hour cartoon. It plays like Cap 1 at high speed with all the character building taken out. In that respect it does remind me of a typical Saturday morning serial aimed at kids, and I kinda hoped What If…? would be a cut above that. There are also details that we are required to suspend disbelief on, a little too much. Well, for my taste anyway you understand.
I’m spoiling nothing by talking about Steve Rogers in the Hydra Stomper, it’s been advertised, a lot. I had no issue with Steve Rogers or the way he was portrayed or played. However to think that Howard Stark could create a functioning Iron Man suit just with the power of the Tesseract is a little too much. Sure, Hydra created advanced weapons’ with the Tesseract in the Cap 1 as well, but the 40’s seems far too early to make the Hydra Stomper. Though, this is not a major gripe, I just thought it was worth mentioning.
As for the voice work, the one I really struggled with the most was Sebastian Stan. Yeah I know, surprising. However I feel like they really gave Stan nothing to do here but say a few one liners so it was as much the writing as the performance for me. As for the story, I had some issue with the roles everyone was asked to play. I won’t spoil what does happen, instead I will say what I would have liked to see happen.
I’d have liked to see Rogers presumed dead, just like Bucky was and the role he filled taken over a little by Stan, without the romance side. Then I would have loved to see a sequel in which Steve Rogers and not Bucky was the actual Winter Soldier. Captain Carter and The Winter Soldier would be a damn cool sequel, which you absolutely already know is coming anyway in What If…? Season 2.
That would have been more surprising and surprise was what was missing here for me. Oh, one final note to say that the narration from Jeffrey Wright is absolutely stellar and the best part of the episode.
To summarize, the Captain Carter episode is a mixed bag of results. It has some nice tasty treats in that bag, and when you get one is feels delicious. However someone is making you taste the sweets far too fast and the vast majority just taste of cardboard. By the end of it, you wish you had just made your own bag of sweets to begin with.
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