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What If… Happy Hogan Saved Christmas?

This was fun.

Do I need to say more? Yes, okay fine.

So, the episode is aggressively derivative. As in the entire premise is one long homage to Die Hard, down to some pretty straight parallels to the movie and a direct call out. The fact that they lamp-shaded the plot as basically a copy of the movie means I can give that potental plot issue a pass. So what was left? Honestly not terribly much, and it has a real your-mileage-may-vary problem with the characters they focused on.

Namely Happy Hogan and Darcy Lewis. These two sidekicks of Tony Stark and Jane Foster respectively (Foster stepped up and became a bonafide hero in later movies so Darcy is a sidekick retroactively), are kind of annoying. Their personalities are painfully stuck in neutral as the butt of jokes, and they have also been better served in other properties (see Spider-man No Way Home for Happy and WandaVision for Darcy).

So, if I didn’t like the leads, and the plot was so-so, was there anything I actually liked? Well yes, somehow despite all the issues with character and plot, it is wrapped in an obnoxiously fun package. The tongue in cheek humor, the overtop villain reprisal by Sam Rockwell (last seen a decade ago the short All Hail the King back in 2014), and the general farcial tone offset all the other problems for me. Then there was the ridiculousness with the Hulk blood turning Happy into a slightly smaller and purple Hulk, which feels like it should be added to the main timeline.

Then there is the core idea for the story, which is a meta take on the traditional hero tale, where the sidekicks are the heroes of the hour. I kind of love it as a writing choice, especially since a lot of the secondary characters in the MCU have taken on a larger role recently. Although I doubt we’ll get a live action project with these characters starring in a plot like this, that does seem to be the entire point of What If?, to try out new things and new realities.

I think the biggest reason this works at all is the setting: a Christmas party. It makes it all feel light and the stakes low. The villain is clearly not a real Avengers level threat, and the way he is dispatched is appropriately anti-climatic. It was also a lot of fun to see the entire original Avengers line up again, even if it was in animation. I don’t know, because it is a light-hearted Christmas tale, I feel it is better than the sum of its parts.


Apparently Happy Hogan does get superpowers in the comics on occasion, where he's known as The Freak.

The store scene was a riff on a similar scene from Jingle All the Way.

W.E.R.N.E.R. feels like a jab at Captain America, and so isn’t entirely without merit.

All of the main characters were voiced by their original live action actors: Jon Favreau (Happy), Kat Dennings (Darcy), Cobie Smulders (Maria Hill), Sam Rockwell (Justin Hammer), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner) and Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye). Except for Tony Stark (Mick Wingert), Natasha Romanov (Lake Bell) and Steve Rogers (Josh Keaton). Jon Favreau is now the longest running actor in the MCU save for Samuel L. Jackson.

This has nothing to do with this episode, or Marvel in general, but there are active rumors circulating that Disney is going to produce a What If? style show in the Star Wars universe.

Good or bad, it’s kind of hard to say. I think the fun outweighs the the annoying for me, but it isn’t the strongest entry in the series.

2 out of 4 Christmas Decorations

Samantha M. Quinn spends most of her time in front of a computer typing away at one thing or another; when she has free time, she enjoys pretty much anything science fiction or fantasy-related.

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