‘What If…?’ Season 2 (Episode 3)- Happy Hogan’s Adventure is a Festive Treat

Published 12/24/2023, 10:45 AM EST

Nakatomi Tower. A security individual. A one-man army against a group. Christmas Eve. That sounds rather like Die Hard. That’s how famous the 1986 film is, but what if the same scenario was taken to the MCU? The Watcher seemed to have just that in some Universe, with his tale of Happy Hogan eschewing the spirit of Christmas. He even introduced it as “Twas the night before Christmas.” With an understanding of how the What If…? episodes have played out, Happy Hogan would have saved Christmas, right? What if he didn’t? Let us find out what happened in the episode.

What If… Happy Hogan Saves Christmas touches upon a character from Iron Man 2, and the events of The Avengers.

What If…? Happy Hogan Saved Christmas (Season 2 Episode 3) Recap

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Happy Hogan is overseeing an Avengers Christmas Gala preparation at the Avengers Tower when there is a hostile takeover. The group secures control of the Iron Man armors, with only Agent Hill, Darcy, and Hogan available to save the day. Why? The Avengers on Earth are tied up in Christmas activities, or dealing with ghosts from their past. And also J.A.R.V.I.S. is down.

Tony Stark’s personal assistant learns the item Justin Hammer is after and aims to secure it. In the fighting, the syringe of Hulk Blood pierces him in the leg resulting in the creation of a new being.

This fresh character, labeled “Freak” by Hammer, single-handedly thwarts the Iron Man suits. He also frees a captured Hill and Darcy to allow them to reboot the system. Just as Freak was about to destroy the Hulkbuster-clad Hammer, the Avengers show up and mistakenly attack Happy.

Darcy comes through for Happy Hogan and Tony Stark dismantles the Hulkbuster suit with a few clicks. Iron Man praises his assistant but does not provide a reply to whether he can reverse the Hulk Blood effect in Happy Hogan.

What If…? Happy Hogan Saved Christmas (Season 2 Episode 3) Review

One positive was that this Christmas episode was laced with Christmas film references. Right from How The Grinch Stole Christmas to A Christmas Story, the episode features mentions to have the Christmas theme really come through. Die Hard references are prevalent as mentioned above, and it is not just with the film’s setting. What works is the writers don’t go overboard with this, and remain focused on delivering an MCU story.

Considering it is a Marvel story there are the usual attempts at wordplay, humor, and banter between protagonists and antagonists. Apart from the puerile expectations, the subject matter comes across as quite good.

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MCU continuity aspects get explored well, with any questions about Justin Hammer’s future coming to light. Where did he go after Iron Man 2? This could even hint at a potential story featuring a character that got replaced in Iron Man 2.

With just 27 minutes to tell the story, there isn’t much planning around. It fits well for a character that is functioning with Banner’s blood: Brain directs brawn, allowing the protagonist to move rapidly.

On the flip side, there seem to be too many unexplained things. How did Justin Hammer know J.A.R.V.I.S. would be offline? How did he have an idea that every Avenger would be away on duty? And the one question remains: What If… the Avengers invest in some security? Sentinels maybe, if security guards would prove to be mere street thugs.

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DIVE DEEPER

Following ‘Joker 2’s’ Musical Approach, Marvel’s ‘What If…?’ Season 2 Could Have a Similar Setup

6 months ago

Watching What If… Happy Hogan Saved Christmas is a festive treat. However, the episode won’t stand on its own and it will remind you of many other Christmas Classics. Die Hard could see streaming interest renewed, all thanks to The Watcher.

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Reubyn Coutinho

52 articles

Reubyn Coutinho is an Editor and Film Critic at Netflix Junkie. This Mass Media Graduate from St. Xavier's has attended MAMI (2019) as a film critic.

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