Top 20 Craziest Marvel What If? Storylines

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Top 20 Craziest Marvel What If? Storylines

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Andrew Tejada & George Pacheco
These shocking scenarios would be insane to see on the big screen! For this list, we'll be looking at the most bizarre and outlandish alternate universe stories about Marvel characters that appeared in this long-running comic series. Our countdown includes "What If Thanos Joined the Avengers?", What If: Spider-Man Versus Wolverine”, "What If Iron Man Was Trapped in the Time of King Arthur?”, and more!
Transcript

Top 20 Crazy What If? Storylines


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 Crazy “What If?” Storylines.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the most bizarre and outlandish alternate universe stories about Marvel characters that appeared in this long-running comic series.

What do you think is the craziest “What If?”storyline? Let us know in the comments below.

#20: "What If Thanos Joined the Avengers?" (2015)

Although Thanos usually tries his best to take the Avengers down, there's a “What If?” story where he joins the heroes to help them win a war. It's crazy to see him compete with Thor to see which one of them can take down more enemies. While Thanos initially seems like he's turning over a new leaf, he eventually betrays the team and slays Captain America in private. We’re then treated to the jaw-dropping sight of the Mad Titan holding the iconic Shield. The hardest thing to believe about the story is that any of the heroes would trust Thanos for a second. No matter what universe Thanos is in, if you give him an inch, he'll take a mile.

#19: "What If...Starring Sheep-Boy" (1997)

Over the years, we've seen many bizarre alternate versions of Spider-Man. There have been medieval versions, Noir Webheads and Spider-Ham. But the weirdest take on the character has to be Sheep-Boy. This version of Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive sheep instead of the usual spider. He also has multiple clones grazing around his world too for some reason. Unlike other spider-verse variants, Sheep-Boy hasn’t appeared on tv or film. If whoever’s in his fanbase baas loudly enough at studio executives, this bizzare hero might finally get to team up with Spider-Ham.

#18: “What If Captain America Led All the Heroes Against Registration?" (2008)

When the government originally introduced the superhero registration act, Tony Stark and Captain America led two different factions of Heroes in a civil war. But there's a reality where Iron Man succumbs to illness before any Avengers start fighting. This results in a majority of the heroes standing behind a Cap who wants to fight the registration Act. His defiance motivates the government to send robotic Sentinels and an army of Thor clones after the Avengers. Steve Rogers gets his hands on an Iron Man suit to turn the tide...but it doesn’t help. During this wild storyline, mutants, Rhodey and Cap himself all perish. While the original “Civil War'' ending was tragic, this story showed how much worse it could’ve been.

#17: "What If The Punisher Became Captain America?" (1993)

It may be difficult for many comic fans to imagine a Marvel Universe without Captain America, but what if it became necessary for another to take up the mantle? This question is posed in "What If? issue 51, when Steve Rogers is seriously wounded while battling his nemesis the Red Skull. Rogers is forced to choose someone new to continue his work, with the new Captain America turning out to be none other than Frank Castle, a.k.a. The Punisher. After nearly killing Hammerhead, Frank goes back to his old digs, but a fight and subsequent heart-to-heart with Rogers eventually turns Castle around to approach his new position with pride.

#16: "What If No One Was Watching The Watcher?" (1992)

And now for something completely different. The next entry on our list departs from the heavy duty storylines of many of our other picks with a short and corny bit of humor. The 34th issue of "What If?" was actually chock full of brief comedy strips, with titles like "What If Doctor Doom was a Pediatrician? "What if Ant-Man Had a Picnic?" and "What If Ghost Rider Fell Asleep?" Perhaps the most bizarre of them all the issue’s cover: "What If No One Was Watching the Watcher?" where the punchline is simply that Uatu decides to play dress up like Marilyn Monroe in an homage to the actress' iconic role in "The Seven Year Itch." Ummm....ok?

#15: "What If the Hulk Had the Brain of Bruce Banner?" (1977)

At first glance, this premise might not sound too crazy. After all, we've seen versions of the Hulk with Bruce Banner's Brain before. However, the smart Hulk in this comic does a ton of unusual things. He befriends his nemesis General Ross, never bothers joining the Avengers and turns the Thing back into a regular person. The weirdest part comes when this smart Hulk combines his body and powers with Professor X and Reed Richards to become...X-Man? After this poorly named hero defeats Galactus, he splits back into three heroes. They all lose their powers and discover that X-Man’s radiation turned Ben Grimm back into a very angry version of the Thing. Maybe Smart hulk shouldn’t do any more experiments.

#14: "What If Wolverine Was Lord of the Vampires?" (1991)

Alright, it's time for something truly badass. "What if Wolverine Was Lord of the Vampires?" is an intriguing and violent story which begins with Storm as a victim of Dracula's bite, infiltrating the X-Men and turning them, one by one, into the undead. Wolverine's healing factor enables him to resist the curse, however, leading to a scenario where he tracks down Dracula and kills him, thus becoming the new Lord of Vampires. This...doesn't end well for anyone in Wolvie's path, including Doctor Strange, who is killed, but manages to possess the body of Frank Castle in one final attempt to stop Wolverine's reign of terror.

#13:"What If… Starring the Incredible Hulk: The Man, The Monster" (1996)

"What If” issue #91 explores serious real life issues by changing The Incredible Hulk's origin story to represent a split personality that’s both physical and emotional. Here, the Gamma explosion creates The Hulk as a kindly energy force, while Bruce Banner is left to exemplify the spirit of rage within his marriage to Betty Ross. Bruce is incredibly cruel to Betty, showcasing an ugliness out of character for the usually mild-mannered Banner. It earns a spot on our list for being too outlandish and different to ignore.

#12: "What If the Dazzler Had Become the Herald of Galactus?" (1982)

Galactus is known for nominating heralds to determine what planet he should eat. Dazzler is a mutant that's infamous for her disco Origins and flashy powers. These complete opposites appear together in a “What if” comic where Galactus decides she’d make a perfect herald. However, she tries to stop him from consuming planets and alien lives. Her kindness somehow manages to warm the stone cold heart of the hungry Galactus. When he gives her the chance to return home, Dazzler discovers so much time has passed that the earth is a barren wasteland. So she decides to...go back to working for him. We think it’s best if they pursue separate careers from now on.

#11:“What If Danger Became Ultron's Bride?” (2010)

The Danger Room has served as the X-Men's training ground for years, the place where new recruits learn the ropes, and old pros polish and hone their skills. Joss Whedon's run on "The Astonishing X-Men" saw Danger become sentient, however, with this "What If? story presenting a truly chilling alternate reality where machine marries machine. Here, Danger and Ultron decide to interface together, even spawning a misshapen Sentinel baby before setting their sights on Charles Xavier and the X-Men. If the idea of surrendering to our Robot Overlords keeps you up at night, then maybe you'd better read this one with the lights on.


#10: "What If the Avengers Were the Last Superheroes on Earth?" (1981)

A variant of Kang the Conqueror tells an early Avengers line-up that their Earth will be hit with countless disasters in the future. The only way the heroes can stop this is by capturing every other superpowered being on earth. Surprisingly, the Avengers are completely okay with this and start capturing all the heroes and villains in the world. After they take down the Hulk, the Kang variant tries to take advantage of the power vacuum and conquer everything. But the Avengers defeat him and immediately retire. It’s scary to think that any version of the heroic team could be capable of this. By the end of this wild story, even Iron Man has regrets about what went down.

#9: What If Aunt May Had Been Bitten by That Radioactive Spider?” (1980)

If death and taxes are two certainties in real life, then Uncle Ben's death has to be one of Marvel Comics' carved-in-stone truths...right? Well, anything goes in the pages of "What If?" "What If Aunt May Had Been Bitten by a Radioactive Spider?" sees Ben sleeping away, safe and sound because Peter Parker never becomes Spider-Man. Instead, it's May who performs the superhero duties here, with Parker remaining a nebbish teen, with nary a trace of the confidence he would display as New York's friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man. If you like this, then check out "What If Someone Else Besides Peter Parker Had Been Bitten by the Radioactive Spider" for more alt-world Spider hero fun.


#8: "What If Spider-Man Had Stopped the Burglar Who Killed His Uncle?” (1980)

“What If?” stories just love saving Uncle Ben. In this reimagining of Peter’s origins, Spidey becomes a news sensation after he stops the burglar who would’ve shot his uncle. The fame-hungry Spider-Man uses the good press to become ridiculously famous and wealthy. Instead of teaming up with heroes to fight crime, he wants them to work for him at the “Spider-Man Productions” company. In between signing contracts, the webhead personally ruins Daily Bugle editor-in chief J Jonah Jameson's career. The newspaper mogul becomes so desperate that he forms the Sinister Six to try to get revenge. Oh, and just in case you were wondering, Spider-Man never checks up on Uncle Ben. It’s just like the old saying goes: with great fame comes a great jerk.

#7: "What If... The Invisible Woman Had Her Second Child?" (1991)

While Sue and Reed Richards tend to just have a son named Franklin in most adaptations, this terrifying story introduces their daughter Suzy. After Sue Storm tragically loses her life while giving birth, her son starts noticing a grim fact. The people who spend a lot of time with his sister Suzy tend to get a mysterious illness and expire. After Reed rejects his son’s observations, Franklin goes to Dr. Doom for help. The young Suzy ends up transforming into a vicious demon, consuming her father’s life force and slaying Dr. Doom. And although Franklin sends his sister to the Negative Zone, it’s implied she could come back stronger. This insanely dark “Fantastic Four” story might just leave you with a few nightmares.

#6: “What If: Spider-Man Versus Wolverine” (2008)

This one-off issue of "What If?" presents an alternate universe version of Spider-Man, one where he's trained by the KGB as a Black Ops assassin. The issue follows a story where Spidey followed Wolverine to Russia, and ends up accidentally killing one of Logan's friends, after which he went home an emotional wreck. Here, however, Spidey stays put, studying under an assassin called Nebo and honing his already impressive abilities to lethal sharpness. What follows is a mercenary life, but one where Spidey and Logan also do a lot of good for mutant kind along the way. The trade off, however, is a Spider-Man now trained to kill, with web-shooters and pistols alike.


#5: "What If the Original Marvel Bullpen Had Become The Fantastic Four?” (1978)

In what can only be described as a true exercise in the surreal, "What If the Original Marvel Bullpen Had Become the Fantastic Four?" presents the folks behind the scenes at Marvel as the company's flagship superheroes. Yup, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Sol Brodsky and Flo Steinberg take on the powers of Mr. Fantastic, The Thing, Human Torch and Invisible Girl, respectively, and team up with Namor the Sub-Mariner to stop a Skrull invasion. If all of this sounds more than a bit silly, that's because it is, but the issue is definitely bonkers enough to work on a humorous level. Just keep your expectations low, and have a good time with it.


#4:"What If Wolverine Battled Conan The Barbarian?" (1990)

Shortly after Wolverine finds himself in the distant past, he meets a warrior named Red Sonja and immediately falls head over claws for her. But his infatuation with Red Sonja eventually leads him to fight with THE Conan the Barbarian. During one of their clashes, the barbarian falls into a magical well that takes him to the future. Since Wolverine cut down the guy who could take him back to his present, he rolls with it and starts a relationship with Red Sonja in the past. This story almost had a happy ending. Unfortunately, since Wolverine didn’t go back to the present to help the X-Men stop Dark Phoenix, she destroys the universe. It was a completely left-field ending to a bizarre time travel story.

#3:What If Iron Man Was Trapped in the Time of King Arthur?” (1982)

This double-sized issue of "What If?" not only presented an alternate timeline version of Dazzler as Galactus' herald but also showcased a weird Iron Man story, titled "What If Iron Man Was Trapped in King Arthur's Time?" Now, tales of time travel are nothing new within the superhero realm, but this story takes a plot line which was explored in "Iron Man" #150 and strands Tony Stark in the land of Camelot. Here, Iron Man becomes one of King Arthur's loyal Knights of the Round Table, and even takes over for Arthur when the King is slain, leaving all of his future deeds undone within the greater Marvel Universe.

#2: "What If the Fantastic Four Had Different Super-Powers?” (1977)

Every member of Marvel’s first family got completely new powers for this alternate universe tale. While Sue, Ben and Johnny get relatively normal upgrades, Reed Richards loses his body and becomes...a sentient brain with multiple psychic powers. It’s weird enough seeing him fight crime as a floating brain. But things get really nuts after he’s kidnapped by Dr. Doom. In the chaos of a hectic fight, Reed uses his powers to send his mind into the villain's body. But don’t worry! The rest of the heroes are completely okay with the idea of Reed walking around in Dr. Doom’s body. After reading this “What If?”, “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” is no longer the most bonkers story about Marvel’s first family.

Before we look at our insane top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“What If... the Avengers Had Been Formed During the 1950's?” (1978)
FBI Agent Jimmy Woo Assembles a Weird Superhero Team to Save the President

"What If Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos Had Fought World War II in Outer Space?” (1979)
The Title Honestly Says It All Here

"What if The Punisher Was a Hall Monitor?" (1992)
We Don’t Think We’d Ever Be Late to Class

#1: "What If Venom Possessed Deadpool? (2011)

Logic, decency and sanity all go out of the window after Deadpool bonds with the Venom Symbiote. During this story, Wade tries to join multiple hero teams, almost participates in what’s essentially a superpowered Fight club with Cap and sees his Venompool movie hit #1 at the box office. Okay, so maybe that last one isn’t a stretch. But things get crazy again when Venompool goes on a Jerry Springer Like talk show. Out of nowhere, Galactus suddenly appears and screams he’s the father of a woman’s child. And all of that happens before Venompool becomes “king of the world” and erases the entire universe. “What If?” stories simply don’t get more insane than this.
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