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The Most Ridiculous "What If?" Questions Marvel Ever Asked

Updated September 25, 2019 2.4k votes 533 voters 18.4k views20 items

List RulesVote up the most out-there Marvel What If? stories.

There may be no more powerful combination of two words in the Marvel universe than “what if?” Rather than a rhetorical question about hypothetical possibilities, Marvel’s version of What If? demotes a very specific type of alternate timeline. And the weirdest Marvel What Ifs? are hands down some of the most ludicrous stories put to print in the publishing giant's history. These crazy Marvel What If? stories are an anthology series of alternate realities spanning over half a century, usually exploring a specific moment in the continuity and positing what would have happened if things had gone differently. In most instances, these stories are narrated by the all-seeing Uatu the Watcher, an extremely powerful being in the Marvel universe.

Comic books are rife with trips to alternate dimensions and parallel timelines, but what sets the What If? brand apart is its complete and total disregard for any sort of continuity. Fans have known from the beginning that What If? tales “don’t count,” and this freedom has allowed decades of writers to craft some impressively bizarre stories. In the world of Marvel, it appears that the answer to the question “What If?” is almost always “something crazy.”

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    What If... Sgt. Fury Had Fought World War II In Outer Space?

    What If... Sgt. Fury Had Fought World War II in Outer Space? came out not too long after the original Star Wars movie, so it’s pretty easy to see what Marvel’s motivations were in crafting this tale. The story features the cigar-chomping Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos taking to the stars in a spacecraft full of annoying robots and information-dispensing computers.

    All of the trappings of ‘70s sci-fi are present as Fury, Dum Dum Dugan, and the rest grumble their way through a climactic space battle, puffing away on tobacco in the vacuum of space.

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    What If... Thanos Joined The Avengers?

    The cover of What If... Thanos Joined the Avengers? features a striking image of the purple, wrinkle-chinned titan wearing Captain America’s costume. Set during the epic cosmic event known as Infinity, the story sees Thanos joining Earth’s forces in their war against the Builders, rather than using the conflict as an opportunity to take over Earth.

    Thanos’ aid helps make short work of the Builders, but his intervention comes at a cost. The world soon finds itself under the bootheel of a tyrant wearing the colors of their former protectors.

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    What If... The Original Marvel Bullpen Had Become The Fantastic Four?

    In the earliest days of Marvel Comics, the staff were practically characters themselves, with notables like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby making frequent appearances in the pages of their own comics. What If... The Original Marvel Bullpen Had Become the Fantastic Four? cast Lee, Kirby, Flo Steinberg, and Sol Brodsky as original superhero family, with Lee himself obvious taking on the role of Mr. Fantastic.

    What should have been a fun tale was actually marred with troubling sexism aimed at Steinberg, and mostly served to make the Marvel staff look like a bunch of jerks. Stan the Man himself was the worst of the bunch, which at least makes him consistent with the real Mr. Fantastic.

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    What If... Dazzler Had Become The Herald Of Galactus?

    While What If... Dazzler Had Become the Herald of Galactus? is only one half of a single What If? issue, it contains enough craziness to power a small city. The tale casts the disco-mutant Dazzler in the role of the Silver Surfer, although there’s no particular reason mentioned and her powers don’t really seem to jive with searching the universe for consumable planets.

    Dazzler starts the story horrified by her task of finding planets for Galactus to eat, but over time she develops feelings for the gigantic, purple-clad cosmic devourer in an unlikely (and in the long-term, wildly impractical) twist. Sometimes, it seems like What If? should really be titled Why Not?

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