*Warning: This article contains spoilers for episode seven of What If…?*
Well, after six anthological episodes, What If…? seems ready to crack open an overarching plot that will lead into The Multiversal Avengers. At least, that’s what the tease at the end of this week’s episode, What If…Thor Were An Only Child? seems to foreshadow. At the end of the episode, it is revealed that Ultron took possession of Vision (Paul Bettany)’s body and acquired all six Infinity Stones. Cut to black. Cliffhanger. Most What If…? episodes have ended in unresolved plot points, and the show seems finally ready to crack its multiversal war wide open. It’s a shame that the attack leading to the finale isn’t excellent, to begin with.
The concept of Party Thor (Chris Hemsworth) could’ve been a fun one since the petty side of the character hasn’t been explored, save for one fight against the frost giants during the opening of Kenneth Branagh’s film. But the episode itself doesn’t work, as it is littered with unfunny jokes and uninteresting spins on the characters, save for a few funny moments here and there. The one funny joke of the entire episode comes in the form of one word: foam. This line is spoken by The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), and its punchline is quite funny, as opposed to everything else that happens in the episode. For the first time in the MCU, Thor is amazingly unlikeable. Maybe it was the point, but the character has always learned from his mistakes in the sacred timeline. Unfortunately, in this bit, he’s uninterested in learning any lesson from what he causes, nor taking any form of responsibility for his ludicrous and adolescent actions, as he unleashes a worldwide party on Earth and uses the planet as his playground.
While, once again, that concept could’ve been fun, audiences can’t attach themselves to the protagonist, whose traits are too bitter for anyone to have a liking for him. Even Doctor Strange, who ends the entire world to save the love of his life, had some emotional attachment from the audience because his character traits remained the same. He did anything to regain control of his hands and will do anything to bring Christine back. It makes sense. Fratboy Thor makes sense in isolation, as he did adopt that attitude at the beginning of the first movie. Still, the spin here makes the character an egotistical antagonist who doesn’t care about the ramifications his party antics cause on Earth. Instead, he would confront superheroic beings or, as he so eloquently puts it, “party poopers” instead of realizing the mistakes he is currently making.
He goes head to head with Captain Marvel (Alexandra Daniels), who urges him to stop partying because he’s actively harming human life. Unfortunately, he would rather fight her instead of realizing that maybe serving him and him only is bad for the world. Though a confrontation with Ultron could provide Thor the realization, he needs that it’s perhaps not just about him, and that, well, to sound clichéd, “with great power comes great responsibility.” However, What If..? presents a rather unsympathetic version of the God of Thunder filled with immature and obnoxious humor.
Some will say, “that’s the point of Party Thor!” but even the later iterations of Thor from Hemsworth, in Ragnarok, for example, retained the upbeat nature of Thor and always made him a compelling character who hides his vulnerability with Fratboy-like quips. Party Thor has no apparent vulnerabilities: he’s just obnoxious for the sake of being offensive, and the bit wears itself relatively thin after two minutes.
Though audiences who stay until the end of the episode will be treated to a set-up that could potentially crack What If..?’s anthological multiverse storylines wide open, and it’s for that reason only that the episode should be sought out. The mid-season sneak peek gave us a look at Party Thor meeting Doctor Strange Supreme, which means that Captain Carter and T’Challa Star-Lord may be joining the mix very soon in the hopes of defeating Ultron, who makes his grand return as a formidable foe for Earth (or in this case, the Multiverse)’s mightiest heroes.