This review contains spoilers for WHAT IF…? episode 3.
The coming together of the Avengers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2012 was movie magic for superhero fans, as Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Hulk, Thor and Hawkeye defended Earth from Loki and the Chitauri under Nick Fury’s surveillance.
However, in episode 3 of Marvel series What If…? on Disney Plus, viewers discover what could have happened if each of the Avengers suffered untimely deaths.
The episode follows Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) at the early stages of the Avengers program when the future members of the group were on his radar but not yet a superhero team.
Out of nowhere, Nick, Clint Barton(Jeremy Renner) and Natasha Romanoff have to deal with enhanced individuals being killed in mysterious circumstances, all the while dealing with the arrival of Loki (Tom Hiddleston) on Earth.
Tony Stark meets an early demise
The third episode of What If…? opens with a scene from Iron Man 2, as Nick Fury finds Tony Stark chilling inside a huge doughnut by a diner.
After Tony discovers that Natasha is actually a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, she goes to inject him with an antidote that will reduce the blood poisoning caused by the arc reactor in his chest.
However, unlike in the original film, the administering of the antidote ends up killing him on the spot.
As Black Widow is taken away by S.H.I.E.L.D., she manages to overcome an entire vehicle of agents to make her escape.
She sets off on a mission to find out how she was framed for the murder of Iron Man and who the real culprit is behind his death.
Avengers are eliminated one by one
Before Nick Fury is able to begin bringing the prospective members of the Avengers together, they are picked off one by one by the unknown assassin.
Within the space of a week, the stories of Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk and Thor unfold, each resulting in the respective heroes being killed.
After Hawkeye is arrested after seemingly killing Thor with his bow and arrow, he is soon also found dead in his cell.
Just as Black Widow seems to have discovered the truth behind the spate of murders, she is apprehended by an unseen individual, but not before telling Nick that the fatalities are all about ‘hope’.
Evil Hank Pym seeks revenge
Hope, of course, refers to Hope van Dyne, the daughter of quantum physicist and original Ant-Man Hank Pym (Michael Douglas).
In this universe, Hope was an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. who died while carrying out a mission – something which Hank is unable to forgive.
Using the Pym particle, Hank was able to shrink to such a small size that he was able to kill the future members of the Avengers while remaining undetected, donning the suit of villain Yellowjacket.
Nonetheless, Nick was able to put the clues together, catching the vengeful Hank while visiting Hope’s grave.
Ending Loki taking over planet earth?
At the end of What If? Episode 3, Hank Pym is caught as the villain. It is Hank Pym’s Ant-Man who has been killing the Avengers.
Hank Pym kills the Avengers because he feels Nick Fury is responsible for the death of his daughter, Hope.
What If? Episode 3’s final battle seemingly pits a very capable Nick Fury against Ant-Man. However, it turns out that Loki, the trickster god, is behind Nick Fury’s fighting prowess. Loki defeats Ant-Man and takes Hank Pym into Asgardian custody.
Loki then decides to take over the Earth and he is seen in command of the entire planet, forcing everyone to be his servant. This is the plan he attempts to implement in the original Avengers movie, only there are no longer any Avengers to stop him.
Thankfully, the ending shows Nick Fury hunting down Captain America. While searching through the ice, Nick Fury finds the shield. Then Captain Marvel appears.