Riffing on his long-standing reputation for spoiling Marvel movies, Avengers: Endgame star Mark Ruffalo took to social media to share a clip from this week’s episode of What If…?, which introduces the Marvel Zombies. What starts as a familiar enough scene centering on a confrontation between Bruce Banner (Ruffalo) and members of the Black Order quickly gets weird when Iron Man shows up to “help,” but goes a little overboard when dealing with Thanos’s minions. Based on a series of miniseries originated by The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, Marvel Zombies opens a window into a world in the Marvel multiverse where the heroes and villains of the MCU were turned into flesh-eating monsters…but with intelligence and super powers.
So, a little like Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead, actually. Except with familiar, established characters and powers that don’t need much explanation and are instantly horrifying in the hands of the undead.
You can see the clip below.
— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) September 7, 2021
As ComicBook’s Christian Hoffer explained in a 2015 write-up, Marvel Zombies is a world in Marvel’s multiverse where zombie versions of Marvel’s superheroes rule Earth and feast on its few remaining survivors. Unlike other zombie stories, most of the Marvel zombies retain their intelligence, although an all-consuming hunger for flesh overtakes their normally heroic instincts. The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman wrote the first two Marvel Zombies miniseries and Marvel has published several sequels since. Remnants of the Marvel Zombies universe even made their way to the universe shattering Secret Wars event, where they’re kept behind a wall erected by the God Emperor Doom.
The success of Marvel Zombies in the comics not only helped push even more copies of The Walking Dead to Marvel fans curious for more of Kirkman’s work, but likely helped inspire stories like DC’s Blackest Night and the critically-acclaimed Afterlife With Archie as well.
For the TV version, Marvel Zombies seems to be dropping right into Infinity War, and taking place within something that at least looks like the main MCU continuity. It might be interesting to see what happens in a world where monstrous versions of Marvel heroes with no moral compass are pitted against Thanos, a deeply-deranged villain who believes himself to be morally right.
What If…? drops on Disney+ on Wednesdays.