“What If… Thor Were An Only Child?” leans heavily into lighthearted comedy as a break from the profundity of alternate universes and timelines, having a good, welcome laugh at its own expense.
This recap of What If…? season 1, episode 7, “What If… Thor Were An Only Child?”, contains spoilers.
The story of Thor has always been the story of family — all-powerful father, meddling brother, momma’s boy at heart. He ticks all the boxes. So one of the most compelling questions you can ask about the character isn’t “What if he got fat?”, as Endgame figured, but what if he never had a reason to get his worst impulses under control? What if a sibling rivalry never taught him to strive for more? What if everything was simply given to him?
What If…? season 1, episode 7 recap
“What If… Thor Were An Only Child” stops being a story about family, then, and starts being one about privilege, about an unruly spoiled rich kid who fits more neatly into classic Disney’s oeuvre than Marvel’s. The hook is that Thor, left to his own devices, decides to throw a massive intergalactic party on the most “backward, backwater realm” possible — Midgard, aka Earth, a planet so uninteresting that even Heimdall doesn’t keep an eye on it. The trouble is that Thor’s parties are so grandiose that they literally kill planets, which is how Jane Foster and Darcy Lewis get wind of his impending arrival.
As it turns out, though, Thor without a world-saving mandate is carefree and charming enough to lead Jane on a wild night out and I’m pretty sure a one-night stand. That leaves Jane a little slighted and S.H.I.E.L.D. furious, especially acting director Maria Hill, who has been thrust into that position of responsibility because Korg body-checked Nick Fury from behind and he’s still unconscious. Thor doesn’t see his relentless partying as a reign of intergalactic terror, but Carol Danvers does, so it’s her responsibility to play “party pooper” and break up the festivities. Cue a comedic super-fight in which Thor thwacks her with Mjolnir all the way from France to the U.K.
Loki is still around, by the way, just in frost giant form, and he’s Thor’s “brother from another mother” rather than his actual sibling. He’s as down for a party as Thor is, but that seems to be the extent of their relationship. Any and all seriousness comes from S.H.I.E.L.D. and Captain Marvel, though in the manner of a parent chastising a child more than anything (and that’s before the episode really does become about a parent chastising a child). The whole episode is like that — a knockabout, farcical excuse for various unexpected cameos and jokes at the expense of Thor himself and several aspects of the MCU in general. It’s a mixed bag, humor-wise, and it’ll definitely divide opinion, but there are some aspects that work pretty well, so let’s talk about those.
For one thing, the fight between Thor and Captain Marvel is nicely animated and allows Captain Marvel to give a better account of herself than any of the live-action movies have, including her own. Darcy, riding high on her rejuvenated popularity following WandaVision, fits right in and feels like more of a presence than even Jane, whose character is dulled somewhat by basically becoming Thor’s number one fan after spending the night with him. Some of the cameos — Howard the Duck! — are good for a giggle, and while not all the jokes land, some of them definitely do. It’s a nice break after something like the heartbreaking Doctor Strange episode or the daring, adult-skewing zombie one for an installment of What If…? to just take itself entirely unseriously, not bothering to unpack the profundity of alternate universes and branching timelines, just having a laugh at its own expense. I wouldn’t want every episode to reduce iconic Gods to petty momma’s boys, but I’m glad this one did.