How ‘What If’ Turned the Avengers Into an Agatha Christie-Style Whodunit

“We knew we wanted to play with Fury’s big week,” head writer A.C. Bradley tells TheWrap

Marvel Studios

(The following story contains spoilers from the third episode of Marvel’s “What If…” on Disney+)

The third episode of Marvel’s animated anthology “What If” answers a question that would horrify every Disney executive in the Magic Kingdom: What if The Avengers never happened?

“We knew we wanted to play with Fury’s big week, which is a very much a deep cut for serious Marvel fans,” A.C. Bradley, the series’ head writer, told TheWrap. The “big week” Bradley is referring to is the fact that in the MCU timeline, Phase One films “The Incredible Hulk,” “Iron Man 2” and “Thor” all occurred within days of each other.

Bradley continues: “We know the eyepatch. We know Sam Jackson. What’s the side we haven’t seen? Fury is a man of secrets. He’s a man who keeps his eye on the big picture. He’s a man who seems to know everything that’s going on behind the scenes at all times. Well, what if we strip that away? What if his greatest plan falls apart before he can even get started?”

Bradley said that idea eventually turned into turning Fury’s assembling of “a group of of remarkable people” into a murder mystery: “So then it became this idea of: What if the Avengers, Agatha Christie style, we’re getting killed off one by one?”

The episode mixes in well-known scenes from “Iron Man 2” and “Thor,” like Tony Stark hanging out in a giant donut and Thor trying to lift Mjolnir. It even reminds us that “The Incredible Hulk,” the ugly duckling of the MCU, did in fact exist.

Unlike the first two episodes, the guiding premise of “What If” — a single decision that is made differently from the main MCU timeline — isn’t revealed until the end, when a murderous and unhinged Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), sporting a Yellowjacket suit, is shown to be the one killing all the Avengers. In this timeline, Hank’s daughter, Hope Van Dyme, became a SHIELD agent and ended up dying in the field.

“It just became a matter of building a puzzle, like, okay, here’s how the pieces are going to work and how they’re going to play,” Bradley said. “And as for the killer, it was like, oh, who has the biggest beef with SHIELD? That was always gonna be Hank Pym.”


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