This review is spoiler-free.
Marvel Wednesday’s are back! This time with a new animated anthology series which explores alternate timelines in the MCU and asking the question, “What if?”
In terms of the story, I think this was a very safe episode in which to introduce the concept of the show to not only die-hard Marvel fans, but casual viewers as well, as this first episode is a very faithful retelling of Captain America: The First Avenger – with the obvious titular twist! About 70-80% of the episode was essentially the film you’ve already seen, but what they did manage to add to the story was very entertaining and fits seamlessly within the context of the existing story. My biggest take from the story was how differently the overall response to Captain Carter was in comparison to Captain America. The blatant misogyny she still faced, even as a kick-ass super soldier, was such a good story thread to follow and has such a great payoff. Exploring this concept so earnestly ensures that this episode delivers so much more than just a simple gender swap.
I feel very strongly that getting the original actors back to play their characters is going to be such an important part in the show’s success. For fans of Agent Carter, I’m sure they are very pleased to have Hayley Atwell back as the main star. I enjoyed what Atwell did in terms of ramping up Peggy’s personality to match her newly acquired super soldier powers. It lead to a few funny moments early on before she becomes comfortable and use to her new role. From her performance, it sounded like Atwell had a lot of fun playing Captain Carter. Supporting Atwell, Sebastian Stan is back as Bucky Barnes as is Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark. These two again just fall right back into their characters and just keeps that movie feel to the episode. As for Steve Rogers, I must say that Josh Keaton does a great job given the circumstances. Yes you can tell that it’s not Chris Evans, but it’s a good impression all the same. Speaking of impressions, if you can’t get Hugo Weaving back, then bringing Ross Marquand back to voice Red Skull is a no-brainer! One final note in terms of the cast, I am very glad that they brought back Bradley Whitford as John Flynn, Peggy’s sexist boss, who was last seen in the Agent Carter Marvel One-Shot. I love Bradley Whitford, so hopefully one day we’ll get to see him play this character in live action once again.
As for the animation, I really enjoyed the style they used here and I think it really suits this time period. Now, from the trailer, it does appear that this will be the default style going forwards. Now, I am ok with this, as it’s really slick and aesthetically pleasing, but I’m still hoping that they shake things up here and there with a different style, as I think this will make for a much more visually interesting series. In regards to this first episode, there are plenty of great moments and they really played to the strengths of this animation, with one scene in particular that will leave a lasting impression.
What If… Captain Carter Were The First Avenger was a very strong start for this new series, quickly establishing the concept early on so that you can sit back and enjoy the rest of the episode and have a lot of fun with it! Wonderful character performances and some nice twists made for a thoroughly enjoyable outing for Captain Carter!