In What If…? episode 5, “What If…Zombies!?,” an Easter egg pays homage to Joss Whedon, who has had a huge impact on the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Warning: Contains spoilers for Marvel’s What If…? episode 5.
In Marvel’s What If…? episode 5, “What If…Zombies!?,” Marvel included a small nod to the work Joss Whedon did for the MCU across two Avengers movies. Joss Whedon worked for Marvel on both The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron as both writer and director. He also served as the creator and executive producer for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which ran for seven seasons.
What If…? episode 5 sees Hulk return to earth at what would have been the start of Avengers: Infinity War to find the planet overrun by a plague of zombies that includes many of the MCU’s heroes. Among the survivors is Peter Parker’s Spider-Man (Hudson Thames, replacing Tom Holland) who saves Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) alongside Janet Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly). Peter catches Bruce up on the zombie apocalypse with his own homemade orientation video.
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Peter Parker’s orientation video opens with his construction of a title card made that reads “SO YOU WANNA SURVIVE THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE.” At the end of the title card, Peter moves a paper cutout zombie across the screen from right to left and quietly growls “Grr. Argh.” This is an exact recreation of the logo stinger for Mutant Enemy, the production company that was founded by Joss Whedon. The stinger, which appeared at the end of shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and Dollhouse before it was updated for Whedon’s latest project, HBO’s The Nevers, shows the words “MUTANT ENEMY” while a cutout monster moves from right to left while uttering, “Grr. Argh.”
The clear homage to Joss Whedon’s production company in What If…? acknowledges the work that Whedon put into creating the Marvel properties as they are seen today. However, it is also a slightly odd choice for two reasons. First, Whedon and Marvel parted ways after Avengers: Age of Ultron under poor circumstances. Reportedly, Joss Whedon and the studio disagreed strongly about which scenes should be included in the final cut of the movie, and Whedon has not worked directly with Marvel since.
Second, studios have been trying to distance themselves from Joss Whedon since multiple misconduct allegations have been lobbied at him. Ray Fisher accused him of abusive and inappropriate behavior on the set of Justice League and Charisma Carpenter came forward with further allegations from her time on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Multiple other members of those productions have since corroborated those statements. While there is value in Marvel’s What If…? acknowledging Joss Whedon’s contributions to the franchise, it seems strange to provide an uncritical homage to a figure that has been revealed as toxic within the industry.
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Marvel’s What If…? releases new episodes every Wednesday on Disney+.
- Eternals (2021)Release date: Nov 05, 2021
- Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)Release date: Dec 17, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)Release date: Mar 25, 2022
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)Release date: May 06, 2022
- Black Panther: Wakanda Forever/Black Panther 2 (2022)Release date: Jul 08, 2022
- The Marvels/Captain Marvel 2 (2022)Release date: Nov 11, 2022
- Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)Release date: Feb 17, 2023
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)Release date: May 05, 2023
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The MCU Just Secretly Acknowledged Joss Whedon’s Avengers Work