Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Review

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is here! The film is the second of four MCU cinema releases scheduled for 2021, unlike Black Widow, Shang-Chi is exclusively at cinemas and won't be available on Disney+ Premier Access. Although the pandemic means that not everyone can freely go to the cinema currently, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings would be wasted on TV. The scale of the film, particularly the visuals in the second half require a cinema viewing. Just like Black Widow deserved a cinematic release so did Shang-Chi, representation matters. So, is Shang-Chi a classic MCU origin story hit? Yes, it is! This is the first origin story since Captain Marvel in 2019, and this film is clearly the first step to forging a refreshed Avengers team. I am so excited about this film and its characters, I already cannot wait for what's next. Read on for my full review: there will be spoilers beyond this point! Where does Shang-Chi fit in the MCU timeline? The main events of th

What If...? Review

What If...? the first animated MCU project is here on Disney Plus starting on the 11th of August 2021, the show will run for 9 episodes and will release weekly on Wednesdays. Good news What If...?  was renewed for a second season before the first even aired, so we can expect good things from this show. What If...? follows on from Loki where the multiverse was opened. Each episode will feature a different scenario, where events led to a different outcome to the ones, we have seen so far in the MCU. It has been confirmed that What If...? is canon, but what affect it will have on the live action movies and TV shows has yet to be revealed. Just like with the other MCU Disney Plus shows I will be reviewing each episode of What If...? I will upload reviews weekly on this post after the episode has aired - so make sure to save this post and check back each week for updates. There will be spoilers beyond this point!

Check out my Loki reviews: Loki Review (justanotherfilmblog.uk)

Episode One: What If... Captain Cater Were The First Avenger? 


Scenario:
Peggy Carter takes the super serum not Steve, she becomes Captain Cater and Steve becomes a Hydra Stomper.

Differences: Peggy becomes Captain Carter; she and Steve Rogers still have a connection. In the end Peggy is the one to disappear, but she falls through a portal saving the world and returns when the Tesseract is activated in Avengers: Assemble. Bucky does not become the Winter Solider, we get a much happier version of his character. 

Returning Voice Cast: Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Samuel L. Jackson, Stanley Tucci, Dominic Cooper, Toby Jones and Introducing Jeffrey Wright as The Watcher.  

Review: I'm not a big animated TV show fan, so I was a little unsure that despite the narratives, What If...? would be not to my liking. However, I enjoyed episode one greatly, the style is vivid and has a very comic book vibe to it. The nature of the narrative was not compromised by the animation either, actually the episode was rather violent with gun shots and plenty of fight scenes which resulted in obvious deaths. The watcher begins by stating that the events of What If...? happen in alternative universes, aka the multiverse that was opened in Loki, where changes happen because people make different choices, it's a fantastic concept. As the narrative is set during World War Two the episode acts as a social commentary with Peggy having to overcome female stereotypes of the time to become the hero she is meant to be. I loved seeing Peggy in more of a central role, since her introduction to the MCU she has developed beyond being just an interesting love interest, now she is a female superhero. It was fun to see Howard Stark back, his creation of a Iron Man prototype suit called a Hydra Stomper is brilliant. The two jokes about Bucky 'you almost ripped my arm off' and 'Hey, I need a hand' are perfectly timed and quite sweet, Bucky was not fated to become the Winter Solider. But Peggy and Steve it would seem are always fated to be apart, Peggy getting her own, 'the war is over' speech from Nick Fury and Hawkeye. Honestly, I love all the twists to Captain America, I wish we could get more Captain Carter content. Which might be happening as Hayley Atwell is rumoured to cameo in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Overall, a great first episode, its going to be fun to see these alternative narratives over the course of the season - after all anything could be possible. 

Episode Two: What If... T'Challa Became a Star-Lord? 

Scenario: 
Yondu and the Ravagers kidnapped T'Challa instead of Peter Quill? T'Challa becomes Star-Lord the Robin Hood of space.

Differences: T'Challa is taken from Earth and raised by Yondu in space. Ego finds Peter Quill on Earth when he is an adult. The Ravagers are hero's that save planets and people across space. Thanos joined the Ravagers and never killed half of the galaxy. The Guardians of the Galaxy do not exist. 

Returning Voice Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Michael Rooker, Sean Gunn, Djimon Hounsou, Chris Sullivan and Kurt Russel.

Review: Rightly episode two of What If...? is dedicated to the late Chadwick Boseman, whilst it is fantastic to hear his voice again in the role of T'Challa, this will also be his last appearance in the MCU. This is sure to be an emotional episode for all MCU fans and Boseman fans, the dedication at the end of the episode fitting and emotional. Narrative wise I felt this weeks episode was a jumble of some really great elements and some very cheesy ones. T'Challa being taken and raised by Yondu was well thought out and executed perfectly. T'Challa's Star-Lord is the opposite of Quills, he is famous, humble, selfless - he is known and loved by many, something Quill wanted but failed to achieve due to his self-serving personality. This meant there was a lot of changes, Drax's planet was saved, the Ravagers joined T'Challa saving people, Thanos was stopped early on through reasonable arguments and The Collector filled the void left by Thanos when he joined the Ravegers. There are a lot of easter eggs throughout this episode, from Howard the Duck, the knife of a Dark Elf, Hela's headwear and the hand of Korg. Whilst some of this was perfect, some parts like Thanos turning his life around felt very cheesy, this episode had a children's TV vibe which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but at times this episode felt at odds with itself. I'm glad that T'Challa returned to Wakanda in his final moments of the episode, he went home which is fitting considering this is the last time we will ever see his character. There is also a possible spin off to this episode, as the ending hints that an adult Quill found by Ego could lead to the destruction of earth. So perhaps a future episode will focus on this. 

Episode Three: What If... The World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?

Scenario: Nick Fury fails to create the Avengers team after Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow and Hulk are murdered by an unknown killer. 

Differences: Five of the original six Avengers are killed before the team is created. Hank Pym becomes Yellow Jacket and murders the Avengers after the death of his daughter Hope. Loki comes to Earth with the Warriors Three and Lady Sif to avenge Thor's death, eventually taking control of Earth. Captain Marvel returns to Earth years before the events of Endgame. Agent Coulson Survives. 

Returning Voice Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleson, Michael Douglas, Clark Gregg, Frank Grillo, Mark Ruffalo and Jaimie Alexander. 

Review: Episode three has a really interesting premise, it is always a bold choice to kill off a hero let alone a whole team of them. The episode starts off great, during the events of Phase 2, within the opening minutes Iron Man is murdered and Black Widow is framed. Next we see the death of Thor presumably at the hands of Hawkeye, who then also turns up dead. A real engaging mystery taking shape, the big question: who is killing the Avengers? Next to die is Hulk, who brutally blows up, Black Widow now next on the hit list. Just when I was really getting into the episode and the great mystery it was creating, Loki turns up to avenge Thor, striking a deal with Fury to spare Earth if the killer is handed over. This all leads too Hank Pym being revealed to be the murderer, who after the death of his Shield agent daughter Hope swore revenge and became the Yellow Jacket. Honestly at this point the episode like last week, becoming over complicated and a little muddled. This episode should have been What If... Hope Died, as that was the event that put these events into motion. Hank is quickly captured by Loki and Fury bringing his killing spree to an end. The episodes ending is perhaps the most disappointing of all, in a bazar twist Loki manages to take over Earth in a matter of a day. And Fury uncovers Captain America from the ice as Captain Marvel arrives on Earth after Fury called her. Clearly Fury is creating an alternative Avengers team, highlighting the fact that the Avengers that died were completely replaceable.  The episode should have focused on either the mystery deaths, with a different killer, or Loki taking over or even the death of Hope and Hanks decent to villainy. After episode one I have to admit I expected a lot more from this season. Hopefully next weeks episode will have a more focused narrative with less random subplots. 

Episode Four: What If... Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?

Scenario: In the car crash Doctor Strange does not suffer any hand injuries, instead Christine dies and leaves Strange depressed.

Differences: Christine dies, Strange becomes a sorcerer to save her rather than to use his hands again. Strange breaks all the laws of the universe in an attempt to bring Christine back to life. The universe is destroyed. 

Returning Voice Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Tilda Swinton. 

Review: After the last two muddled episodes of What If...? I expected the same over stuffed approach this week, however I was happy to be proved wrong. Episode four of What If...? is brilliant, sad and emotive. It takes us on a journey where one, just one action changes the course of the universe and leads to its destruction. This episode is bold and brave, in the final moments there were countless opportunities to save the universe, to take the easy happier route narrative wise. But none of them are taken, instead the universe is destroyed and the watcher uses it as an example as to what can happen when those who are meant to be hero's change paths and fail to listen to those around them. I loved that The Watcher had more involvement this week, more than just a narrator we see him lurking in the story itself. One theory I have is that he sent The Ancient One to Doctor Strange. But what really interested me is his comment that his interference could jeopardise other universes, how and why? We have a lot to learn about The Watcher and his role in the multiverse I think. The whole episode felt concise, the focus solely on Doctor Strange and his pain. The idea of two versions of the same character existing in the same universe was a nice addition and certainly gears us up for the future of the MCU which with the opening of the multiverse means that we could see more than one version of a character on screen at the same time (I'm looking at you Spider Man). Overall, a fantastic episode that gave us an alternative storyline without a happy ending, sometimes mistakes can't be fixed. Lets hope the reason of the season carries on in the same concise and bold way. 

Episode Five: What If... Zombies!?

Scenario: When Hank Pym brings back his wife Janet Van Dune from the Quantum Realm he also brings back a Zombie virus. The virus spreads and the Avengers go on the attack only to become Zombies themselves. 

Differences: Everyone becomes Zombies. 

Returning Voice Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Sebastian Stan, Evangeline Lilly, Paul Rudd, Jon Favreau, Danai Gurira, Emily VanCamp.

Review: Episode 4 of What If...? Is terrifyingly brilliant, and 100% not for children. Seeing the Avengers as zombies is horrible, but the jump scares and reveal shots are terrifying. The narrative this week is perfect: full of stakes, hints of horror and twists and turns. This could have easily been a feature length episode. The episode gives us an alternative to the Avengers: Infinity War events with Hulk arriving to warn Earth of Thanos' arrival and ends with a Zombie Thanos ready to use the infinity stones. As in the other timeline Vision dies, but not before he lures Avengers to his hiding place under the impression he had a cure. I did not see the twist coming at all, but Vision capturing people to feed a zombie version of Wanda is vile and clever. It would seem Vision did at least create a cure, as thats what the remaining team consisting of Black Panther, Spider-Man and Scott take to Wakanda. There are little hints of what could happen next, for example: Spider-Man may become the sorcerer supreme, Hulk and Wasp might be able to be cured as we don't see them die and Thanos may be able to carry out his plan. What's really interesting though is the fact that these zombies seem to retain there abilities and how to use them, this is not normally the case in zombie movies, so this new take was certainly fun to watch. The amination style really worked this week, this episode looked the best in general with the mixture of interior and exterior scenes, the combination of night and day. Another perfect episode of What If...? I am starting to think the messy second and third episodes where isolated incidents. I hope that in season two we get part two of this story because I need to know if Thanos can be stopped and if a cure works!

Please let me know what you think in the comments below. 

Thank you for reading xx


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