By Janie Walenda
There’s no denying how important Thor and Loki have been to the MCU as a whole. Loki remains the MCU’s most iconic villain and remains a major character in this universe even after his tragic demise in “Infinity War” (thankfully, multiverses allow for such paradoxes). While the “Thor” movies have had their ups and downs, Thor himself has only grown in popularity, as evidenced by his upcoming fourth movie. This sibling rivalry defined much of the early MCU, and still affects the universe to this day. “What If…Thor Were an Only Child?” explores what the god of thunder’s life would have looked like if he hadn’t grown up with Loki at his side.
In this alternate timeline, the conflict and competition between the brothers that has been the hallmark of these characters no longer exists. Compared to the first “Thor” movie, this Thor doesn’t have a care in the world and takes every opportunity he can to party. So, once Odin is asleep and Frigga is out on vacation, Thor decides to throw the best party ever on one of the most inconspicuous planets in all the nine realms: Earth.
This episode’s comedic bent is further proof of the lasting influence of “Thor: Ragnarök.” Not only did that movie change the tone and characterization of Thor but it also moved Thor from fantasy to sci-fi. While this episode brought Thor back to Asgard, the space theme is still strong, with cameos from Nebula, Drax, and the Grandmaster.
The most notable party-goer, however, is most definitely Loki in frost-giant form. It appears that no matter the universe, Loki and Thor are destined to have a brotherly relationship. With no competition to fuel jealousy and resentment, the brothers can enjoy a more positive relationship. Their banter was hilarious, especially their shooting star bit. We’ve seen quite a bit of Loki this year, and it was nice to see a non-villainous variation.
Thor’s primary “antagonist” (or in his words “party pooper”) in this episode is none other than Captain Marvel. Their fight was my favorite part of the episode. The transition from goofy jokes to epic battles was smooth, and the visuals were stunning. The fight was well-choreographed and thrilling to watch, thanks to the location changes and utilization of Thor and Captain Marvel’s powers. I loved watching two of the strongest Avengers (and two of my favorites) battle it out.
It was weird that Brie Larson didn’t return to voice Captain Marvel, given that everyone else did. While it makes sense that actors playing characters who have died, like Tony, Steve, and Natasha, didn’t return, Captain Marvel has a sequel coming up next year. It’s a bit odd but not especially distracting.
This episode also marks the return of Jane and Darcy, which is especially noticeable given Jane’s imminent return in “Thor: Love and Thunder” as Mighty Thor. This episode doesn’t appear to have any foreshadowing for that storyline, but it is great to see Natalie Portman as Jane again. I’m always glad to see Darcy, and I hope we get more of her in the MCU beyond this episode and “WandaVision.”
I promised myself that I wasn’t going to complain about the character design this week, and I’m not going to. At this point it’s very clear that the characters are meant to be variations of their live-action counterparts, intentionally bearing a more comic-book-like stylization.
After four episodes of doom, this episode is a literal party. The jokes are non-stop, and very few of them miss. My personal favorites include Thor calling Rocket a rabbit again, the party spreading to Pennsylvania Dutch country (sadly never visualized) and Thor fixing the Leaning Tower of Pisa. This episode takes a lot of inspiration from classic teen movies like “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” including the frantic cleanup before the parent (inside this case his mother Frigga) comes home. Just when you think “What If…?” has returned to its earlier light-hearted stories, the episode ends with an ominous twist. With two episodes left and heavy teases for inter-story crossovers, Party Thor is likely the last respite we’ll get before what’s bound to be an intense series finale.
Episode seven of “What If…?” is now streaming on Disney Plus.
Janie Walenda is a freshman Global Business major and an A&E writer for Cedars. She enjoys musicals, movies, and rereading the same books ten times.