What If… the World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes? | Transcript

Nick Fury struggles to launch The Avengers when candidates are targeted by a serial killer.
What If... The World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?

Season 1 Episode 3
Original release date: August 25, 2021

Over the course of a week, S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury attempts to recruit heroes for the Avengers Initiative but they are each mysteriously killed: Natasha Romanoff injects Tony Stark with an unexpectedly fatal injection, Clint Barton accidentally shoots and kills Thor before dying in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, Bruce Banner / Hulk explodes, and Romanoff is attacked and killed while investigating the other murders; before she dies, Romanoff tells Fury that the murders are related to “hope”. The Asgardians, led by Loki, arrive on Earth to avenge Thor; Fury proposes an alliance to apprehend the killer. Fury deduces that Hank Pym is the murderer and has been using his shrinking technology to commit the murders as revenge for the death of his daughter, Hope van Dyne, who died in the line of duty as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Fury and Loki defeat Pym, who is taken into Asgardian custody. Loki chooses to stay on Earth, becoming its ruler. Fury begins assembling more heroes, finding Steve Rogers frozen in ice and summoning Carol Danvers to Earth.

* * *




It’s more than a linear path.

It’s a prism of endless possibility,

where a single choice can branch out into infinite realities,

creating alternate worlds from the ones you know.

I am the Watcher.

I am your guide through these vast new realities.

Follow me and ponder the question…

“What if?”

There was an idea to bring together a group of…

ROMANOFF: Remarkable people?

To see if they could become something more?

I know. I’ve heard the speech.

Then you realize what’s at stake.

Which is why I’m surprised you’d wanna bet

the future of the Avengers Initiative on that.

Stark may be eccentric, but he’s got potential.

What he’s got is a hangover.

Did I ever tell you about this one time

I actually recruited a Russian assassin to join my American covert ops team?

Vaguely rings a bell.

Then you should know, I’m not afraid of a big swing.

Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to exit the donut.

I told you I don’t wanna join your super-secret boyband.

No, no, no. See, I remember, you do everything yourself.

How’s that working out for you?

I’ve been worse.

You’ve become a problem, a problem I have to deal with.

Contrary to your belief, you are not the center of my universe.

STARK: I get it.

Hit him.

(SCREAMS) God. What’d she just do to me?

What did we just do for you?

That’s lithium dioxide. It’s gonna take the edge off.

It’s not a cure, it just abates the symptoms?

Stark! You okay?


FURY: Stark!

ROMANOFF: Tony. Tony!

He’s dead.

WATCHER: Humanity, so eager, so willing to face the impossible,

yet blind to the bigger picture.

Inside one week, three strange and separate stories unfolded.

A genius battled his demons both inside and out,

while the world met the monster hiding in the man.

And a godly prince fell to Earth.

I am the Watcher.

And where humans see chaos,

I see the crucible that would transform

this collection of individuals into a team of heroes.

At least, that’s how things played out in one universe.

But in this one…

Sir, we found it.

Kind of in the middle of something here, Coulson.

COULSON: Not sure it can wait, sir. Locals are getting curious.

Set up a perimeter and tell the team I’m en route.

I may not have been a fan of Tony Stark, but I didn’t kill him.

Save your spin for Pierce.

He wants you in New York first thing for questioning.

Wanna give us a minute?

This wasn’t me.

I know that, but S.H.I.E.L.D. has protocols,

so my hands, like yours, are tied.

You know these won’t hold me.

Oh, I’m counting on it.

Someone inside S.H.I.E.L.D. compromised Stark’s antidote.

I need someone on the outside to find out who.

Sure you wanna take another big swing on me, boss?

Safest bet I’ll ever make.

Wow. So serious.

Maybe we should get some tunes going.

Lighten the mood.


You guys are no fun. Here. Mind holding these for me?

Of course. Uh… What?


I never did get what he sees in her.

Sure, she can land a punch, but only ’cause people don’t expect it.


What? Stop! Stop the truck!


No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

Oh! Come on!



BARTON: Best we can tell, it’s extremely powerful and not from around here.

Electromagnetic, neutron, vita radiations, all off the charts.




Well, that doesn’t sound ominous at all.

It’s been happening all night.

The artifact has a bit of an attitude.

Also, no one can lift it.

Not even Jackson and he does CrossFit.

Something that powerful goes missing, someone always comes looking.

We just have to cross our fingers that someone is an ally.

So, what’s the move?

Same as always. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

We got a man down. Sound the alarms.



I think the worst just got here.

FURY: Coulson, talk to me.

We got a perimeter breach. Multiple agents down and…



I got visual on the intruder.

He’s a Caucasian male, mid-twenties with…

really great hair.

Excuse me?

COULSON: It’s an accurate description. Sir, he’s gorgeous.

I need eyes in the sky. Barton.

BARTON: Already on it.

He’s making a move on the hammer.

One shot, one kill, sir. Just say the word.

FURY: Hold your fire. I wanna see this.


Whoa. Coulson wasn’t lying about the hair. That’s nice.

Fury, now or never.


FURY: Hold your…

Damn it, Barton. I told you to stand down.

I did! Wasn’t me! I didn’t shoot!

GUARD 2: Drop your weapon!

I swear, I didn’t shoot.

Your arrow would indicate otherwise.

This doesn’t make any sense. I don’t slip. I don’t misfire.

What’s the word on our intruder?


And if his blood samples are to be believed,

he’s almost a thousand years old and not of this world.

First Stark, now Muscle Beach.

That’s two high value S.H.I.E.L.D. targets killed by our own agents inside 24 hours.

Barton’s sticking to his story?

He’s pretty bent out of shape.

Won’t talk to anyone.

He’ll talk to me.


Wake up, Sleeping Beauty.



Barton. Coulson, get a medic.

How could this… Who did you let in here?

No one.

COULSON: No one.

Stay with me. Stay with me.

We’re running a tox screen to see if it was a cyanide capsule.

Barton had a wife and kids.

If he was gonna go, it wouldn’t be willingly.

You think he was murdered.

If I had to guess, my money is on the same someone who killed Stark.

But Barton was in a locked cell under observation.

There was no sign of struggle, no entry wounds.

It’s weird, but I also have a space corpse

that looks like a Chippendales dancer rotting on the next table over.


Oh, wow.

Even while rotting, he smells like lavender.

Really? (SNIFFING)


Still, there’s not a lot connecting a billionaire playboy

and a S.H.I.E.L.D. assassin, unless you have any ideas.

There was an idea.


Dr. Ross. Not sure if you remember me, but…

(SIGHS) Oh, I remember.

And I’ll tell you the same thing I told you

the last time S.H.I.E.L.D. came poking around.

I haven’t seen him.

I’m not here about the green guy.

His name is Dr. Bruce Banner. And I’m in a rush, Agent Romanoff.

I’m here about Tony Stark. I believe he was murdered.

What? By whom?

Me. Or at least someone’s trying to make it look that way, using this.

So, why did you come to me?

You’re an expert in the tactical applications of cellular biology.

There are plenty of others. Why did you really come here?

I need to keep this off S.H.I.E.L.D.’s radar

and you seem to have some experience in that department.

Mmm. Well, your injector’s clean

and there’s no traces of lethal pathogens of any kind.

Then what killed him?

BETTY: Whatever it was, it wasn’t biological.

Your antidote didn’t even make it out of the syringe.

It looks to me like a tiny projectile of some kind was fired from the needle.

You’re thinking nanotech?

I’m a biologist, not a ballistics expert.

And I believe we’re done here.

Huh. You got a side job, Dr. Ross?

What? I don’t know. I…

A student must have left it there.



FURY: I got bad news and worse news.

You in a secure location?

Not currently.

FURY: Barton’s dead.


FURY: I know what he meant to you.


Who do I kill?

FURY: Looks like his and Stark’s murders are connected.

ROMANOFF: By what?

FURY: The Avengers Initiative.

Seems our killer is going after the candidates.

ROMANOFF: If someone wanted to kneecap S.H.I.E.L.D.,

that’s a good place to start.

Who else is on the list?

FURY: That’s the thing. Bruce Banner and you.

ROMANOFF: Under different circumstances, I’d be flattered. So would Clint.

FURY: You need to get yourself to ground. But first, find Banner.

Funny thing, boss. Think I already have.

I… I’m sorry, but I can’t let you in there.

Move, or I’ll make you move.

No need for violence, Agent Romanoff.

That’s probably not gonna work out. For anyone.

What? What is it?

We need to go. Now.




FURY: What’s your 20, Coulson?

Coffee run. Needed a breather.

Got you a double macchiato. Just how you like it.


What the…

Director, sensors are reporting a massive energy surge.

Seems like it came out of nowhere.

What are you seeing, Coulson?

A meteorological phenomenon of some kind.

Oh, boy. Whatever it is, it came with bogeys.

They look like they’re from Earth?

COULSON: Maybe Middle-earth?

Go get ’em, boss.

Looking for directions, sir? Because you seem to have lost your way.

(CHUCKLES) You would do best to kneel before a god.

We don’t really do that here. No matter who or what you are.

I am Loki, Crown Prince of Asgard.


The rightful king of Jotun…

(CLEARS THROAT) Jotunheim. And God of M…


Mischief. Are you gonna take that? I’m in the middle of something.

Damn it, Fury! Pick up.

Hey, I’m telling you, it’s safer for everyone if I fend for myself.

I sort of can’t die.

Then I guess you’re in luck.

Look alive, people.

I want strike teams locked, loaded, and ready to move in on my mark.


I’m a little busy here, Widow.

ROMANOFF: Oh, good. We’ll start a support group.

I’ve got General Ross, a dozen snipers and a few tanks.

What are you dealing with?

FURY: Space Vikings.


FURY: Handle it, then get to ground.



Lady trouble?

Well, what exactly is it that brought you here, Mr. Loki?


An agent of this planet murdered Thor Odinson, the Crown Prince of Asgard.

Natasha Romanoff, agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

I have Bruce Banner in my custody. You need to stand down.


Hey, hey! Don’t shoot!

Who the hell opened fire?

SOLDIER 3: Not us, sir.

Bruce! It’s okay. We’re okay, right?

I’ll get you out of this. I swear on my life.

Director Fury, you fail to comprehend the enormity of the situation.

Oh, I’m comprehending, all right.

Agent Romanoff, I think you might be better off getting out of here.

Which is why I have to ask, what’s in the box?


Such insolence will not be tolerated.

And your planet will be taken as retribution.



Take it down!








Oh, you want some of this? Come on!

Father! No! Stop! Stop, please!



There’s nothing you can do.

That’s my father. He’ll listen to me.

The General isn’t the one who started this.


Then who did?




(SOBBING) No. No, no, no. Bruce.

But he can’t die. He can’t die.

He can’t.

Declaring war on this planet will not bring your prince back!

SIF: Wait.

He’s not wrong. The All-Father would want us to listen.

We have the same enemy here.

The person who killed your brother also killed two of my people.

Good people. We should be working together.

We are not allies.

Then let me help you.

I promise, when I find your brother’s killer,

you will have your pound of flesh.

What a fascinating choice of words.

But I shall require the entire corpse.

You need to give me time.

Very well.

You have until the next rise of Midgard’s sun to deliver my brother’s assassin,

or I will reduce this planet to ash and ice.

COULSON: (OVER PHONE) Why do you need my password?

ROMANOFF: (SIGHS) I need to get into the Avengers Initiative files,

but I’m locked out of the system and wanted for murder.

COULSON: I’m not telling you my password, Romanoff.

ROMANOFF: Why not?

COULSON: Because I’m not.

ROMANOFF: Coulson. Clint was your friend, too.

(SIGHS) Hashtag-Steve-Steve-SteveI-heart-Steve-0-7-0-4.


Good one, Coulson.


No, nothing. That’s great. Thank you.


Huh. How did a woman who died two years ago

access the database yesterday?

You won’t win. Not against me. Not against S.H.I.E.L.D.


FURY: You found me. You know what to do.


Fury, it’s Hope! It’s all about Hope!


ROMANOFF: (OVER PHONE) It’s Hope! It’s all about Hope!

It’s Hope! It’s all about Hope!

It’s Hope! It’s all about Hope!

COULSON: Four hours to sunup, sir.

I haven’t forgotten.

Sir, I understand that this Prince Loki situation is the very reason

you proposed the Avengers Initiative

for a group of remarkable individuals to fight the battles we can’t.

I wrote the speech.

There’s still one name left, sir.


I’m not the only Avenger left.


COULSON: Is that a beeper from the ’90s?

Also our last hope.

“Hope. It’s all about Hope.”



Where are you going?

Not sure.

Either make a pact with a god or deal with a devil.

You got a name, soldier?

I’m here to see your boss.

If it isn’t Hank Pym.

HANK: The balls you have to come here and stand over her grave.

Oh, don’t worry about her.

I doubt she’d mind, considering she’s dead.

She died because S.H.I.E.L.D. killed her.

She died because of you.

Agent Hope Van Dyne was killed on a mission outside Odessa, Ukraine.


She was my daughter! My little girl.

She missed her mother and you exploited that!

Her mother was an agent?

Don’t play the fool with me, Fury.

You filled her head with nonsense about protecting humanity and saving the world.

You just left out how she died the same way her mother did,

doing S.H.I.E.L.D.’s dirty work!

And that gave you permission to murder them?

Anthony Stark? Clint Barton? Bruce Banner? Natasha Romanoff?

You took everything from me.

I wanted you to hurt.

To witness everything you’ve ever worked for…

fought for…

hoped for…


And what of Thor, Prince of Asgard?

Goldilocks? You would have recruited him in a heartbeat.

Sold him some malarkey about being a hero.

That’s what you do. What S.H.I.E.L.D. has always done.

Find others to fight your battles.

That’s it? You murdered him because you could?

His death was a favor. Yours will be a triumph.

What the…

You’re still pretty spry for a guy with a corner office.

You never cared about Hope.

I don’t give a damn about any of them.



Fury! Come on.

You’re supposed to be a killer? Well, come on, then. Kill me.



HANK: How are you…


Stop moving, Fury.

What are you doing? Let’s go…

It’s like you’re everywhere. Aah!



Uh, what’s with the goth kid?

Hello. Trickster God. Hi.

S.H.I.E.L.D. is people,

people willing to give their lives for something greater than themselves

to save the world from men like you.

Agent Hope Van Dyne understood that and she will never be forgotten.

Then you honor her.

Then honor her.

Well, this was an absolute pleasure, Director Fury.

Good. Now take your hammer and get off my planet.

(CHUCKLES) About that, we should be allies.

You know, I’ve just had an idea.

I was thinking I might extend my stay here on Midgard.

For how long?


Good evening, my loyal subjects.

It is with great pride that I stand before you today

to announce that in just one day’s time,

the nations of Earth have put aside their differences

and united under my command.

It’s the unspoken truth of humanity that you crave subjugation.

The bright lure of freedom hobbles you, diminishes your life’s joy.

You were made to be ruled.

So I have come to help you fulfill your destiny.

The Avengers fell before they had a chance to rise.

May they rest in peace.

They can, but we won’t.

The Avengers were always meant to be more than a team.

They were an idea,

the affirmation of humanity’s need to believe that in our darkest hour,

we will find our heroes.

I believe that in this universe, as in every other, hope never dies.

As long as someone keeps their good eye on the bigger picture.

Welcome back, Captain.

So where’s the fight?



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read More

Weekly Magazine

Get the best articles once a week directly to your inbox!