WHAT IF…? Season 2 Episode Review -The MCU Meets BLADE RUNNER in This Week’s Epic Premiere

In the Season 2 premiere, Nebula seeks to unravel a mystery with the fate of Xandar hanging in the balance. Jeffrey Harris takes a look at "What If... Nebula Joined the Nova Corps?"
What If...? Season 2

Marvel’s What If…? returns for its sophomore season this week, and the Season 2 debut is an epic mash-up of the MCU meets the cyberpunk classic, Blade Runner. The Illuminerdi was on hand for the world premiere of Season 2, where Marvel Studios and Disney showcased two episodes from the upcoming season.

RELATED: WHAT IF…? Season 2 Surprise: Michael Douglas Returns as Hank Pym in an Alternate 1980s Avengers Line-up

In the Season 2 premiere, “Nebula Joined the Nova Corps,” The Watcher observes a new fragment of the Multiverse, showcasing an alternate reality where Ronan the Accuser defeated Thanos and betrayed Nebula (Karen Gillan). However, after being left for dead, Nebula is given salvation by the Nova Corps, and with nowhere else to go, she becomes a bonafide officer to protect Xandar, but now, Nebula’s skills are put to the test as she faces a mystery that could mean Xandar’s destruction.


While Ronan the Accuser managed to defeat Thanos, he hasn’t stopped his campaign to achieve personal revenge against Xandar and the Nova Corps. In her mission to protect Xandar and its people, Nova Prime uses a last-ditch effort, launching an impenetrable shield around the planet that Ronan cannot get through.

What If...? Season 2

However, the shield turns Xandar into an isolated dystopia. Episode director Stephan Franck and writer Matthew Chauncey aren’t even subtle about the inspirations of the 1982 sci-fi classic Blade Runner in the episode, which this story is trying to evoke. That largely adds to the episode’s charm and appeal, seeing a redeemed Nebula, as a Nova Corps officer seeking to protect the last salvation of her life from utter annihilation.

Following the introduction, Nebula begins investigating the murder of another established MCU character fans will find familiar. That sets her on a path to uncover a deeper mystery that could mean Ronan getting through the shield and bringing destruction to his hated target. The episode also features appearances by Kree warrior, Yon-Rogg, once again voiced by Jude Law. However, the true scene-stealer is none other than the one and only Howard the Duck, who runs his own casino on the darkened, dystopic Xandar, moonlighting as a part-time C.I. for Nebula. Seth Green is back to voice Howard, and of course, he’s got Korg as his bartender. Taika Waititi is also back to voice Korg in the episode.

RELATED: Marvel’s WHAT IF..? Season 2 Introduces New Groundbreaking Native Hero: Kahhori’s Story and Impact

The strength of What If…? as an animated series is that it captures the vibe and tone of the original comic series, showcasing alternate scenarios of famous Marvel Comics events or characters. The animated series simply presents the style of the original comic series through the MCU lens. The Nebula episode is no exception.

Considering Xandar is completely engulfed by a shield, the lighting of this episode is incredibly dark, which is appropriate. It reinforces the Blade Runner influences, complete with the large, towering buildings and flying Spinner-like cars. And considering that Nebula herself is a cyborg, that adds to the cyberpunk factor.

It’s interesting that in this universe, Nebula still found her redemption and turned over a new leaf. It simply happened in a different way than Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The added antics of Howard the Duck, Korg, and a familiar Flora Colossus. Considering Marvel Studios has yet to truly explore the existence of Howard the Duck in the MCU, this episode is as close as fans will ever get to an MCU Howard the Duck story. And no, Howard’s extended cameo in the first season doesn’t count.

Marvel Studios What If Season 2 - Screenshot
Courtesy of Marvel Studios

The Season 2 premiere also works as a nice standalone episode, and that’s the beauty of many of these episodes. They are nice offshoots and experiments of the existing MCU, allowing audiences to peek at different scenarios, along with seeing other characters who have never met each other finally interact for the first time. The Season 2 debut of Marvel’s What If…? nicely sets the stage for what looks to be another solid and fun season.

Marvel’s What If…? Season 2 debuts on Friday, December 22 on Disney+. Marvel and Disney will be releasing new episodes daily, with the Season 2 finale dropping on December 30.

About Marvel Studios’ What If…?

Marvel Studios What If

Season 2 Release Date: December 22, 2023 (1 New Episode each day, with the season finale on December 31, 2022)
Directed by: Bryan Andrews (S1)
Head Writer: AC Bradley (S1)
Executive Producers: Brad Winderbaum, Kevin Feige, Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Bryan
Andrews, AC Bradley
Production Company: Marvel Studios

MCU Stars Reprising Roles (S1): Andy Serkis, Angela Bassett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Benedict Wong, Benicio Del Toro, Bradley Whitford, Carrie Coon, Chadwick Boseman, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Sullivan, Clancy Brown, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Danai Gurira, David Dastmalchian, Djimon Hounsou, Dominic Cooper, Don Cheadle, Emily VanCamp, Evangeline Lilly, Frank Grillo, Georges St-Pierre, Hayley Atwell, Jaimie Alexander, Jeff Goldblum, Jeremy Renner, John Kani, Jon Favreau, Josh Brolin, Karen Gillan, Kat Dennings, Kurt Russell, Leslie Bibb, Mark Ruffalo, Michael B. Jordan, Michael Douglas, Michael Rooker, Natalie Portman, Neal McDonough, Ophelia Lovibond, Paul Bettany, Paul Rudd, Rachel House, Rachel McAdams, Samuel L. Jackson, Sean Gunn, Sebastian Stan, Seth Green, Stanley Tucci, Taika Waititi, Tilda Swinton, Toby Jones, Tom Hiddleston and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor.

Synopsis: Season two of “What If…?” continues the journey as The Watcher (voice of Jeffrey Wright) guides viewers through the vast Multiverse, introducing brand-new and familiar faces from the MCU. The series questions, revisits, and twists classic Marvel Cinematic Universe moments with an incredible
voice cast that includes a host of stars who reprise their iconic roles.

Season two features fan-favorite characters this season like Nebula, Hela, and Happy Hogan, episodes are directed by Bryan Andrews (eps 2-9) and Stephan Franck (ep 1) and written by AC Bradley (eps 3, 4, 5, 8), Matthew Chauncey (eps 1-3, 7, 9) and Ryan Little (eps 6, 8). The animated series is executive produced by Brad Winderbaum, Kevin Feige, Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Bryan Andrews, and AC Bradley. The animated series begins streaming on Disney+ on Dec. 22—with a new episode debuting nightly for nine nights.

What are your thoughts on Marvel’s What If…? so far? Are you looking forward to Season 2? What was your favorite plot scenario from the first season? Any ideas for Season 3? Let us know your thoughts about the show on The Illuminerdi’s social media.

KEEP READING: WHAT IF…? Season 2 Throws Happy Hogan and Darcy Take the Spotlight in an Incredible Christmas Episode


Jeff Harris

Jeff Harris

Jeffrey is an entertainment journalist and podcast host based in Los Angeles. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Science in Radio, TV, & Film and a Bachelor of Arts in Theater. Jeffrey is also a Staff Writer at where he writes about movies, TV, games, wrestling, interviews talent, and covers special events such as Anime Expo, Comic-Con, and CinemaCon. When Jeffrey is not binging his favorite seasonal anime or show, he enjoys playing dodge ball, gaming, watching films, and enjoying UT football. You can find him on Twitter @Wheeljack83.