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The MCU Teased How Powerful A Wasted Phase 1 Villain Will Be When He Returns

Warning! This article contains spoilers for What If…? season 2, episode 3, “What If… Happy Hogan Saved Christmas?”


Summary

  • What If…? season 2 features the return of Justin Hammer, who breaks out of prison and becomes a skilled fighter in an alternate reality.
  • Hammer’s transformation makes him comparable to Tony Stark, as both are skilled fighters without superpowers.
  • Hammer’s return in the MCU’s Earth-199999 timeline is possible, and he could be a compelling villain in the upcoming series Armor Wars, posing a threat to Iron Man’s allies.

What If…? season 2 brings back a notable Iron Man 2 villain and showcases how he might look if he returns to the franchise. The sophomore outing of the anthology series once again dives into strange alternate realities in the MCU multiverse. Considering its December release, it was only apparent that What If…? would feature a holiday-themed episode. One of the stories of What If…? season 2 takes a page out of Die Hard’s book with Tony Stark’s dutiful bodyguard, Happy Hogan, protecting the Stark Tower from armed assailants on Christmas Day. It also featured the return of an early Iron Man villain.

With Jon Favreau returning to voice Happy Hogan’s variant in What If…? season 2, the director and actor continues his recurring involvement with the MCU. Iron Man 2, which also starred Hogan, might be a less universally praised MCU movie, but it did introduce Oscar winner Sam Rockwell’s snarky, fast-talking take on weapons industrialist Justin Hammer. The antagonistic entrepreneur and chief of Hammer Industries struck an enmity with Tony Stark. Barring a cameo in a Marvel short, not much has been known about Hammer’s whereabouts. What If…?, however, reimagines an alternate Hammer after his downfall.

Related

What If…? Season 2 Cast & Marvel Character Guide

What If…? season 2 premieres on December 22, 2023, on Disney+, bringing new and returning voice actors to the animated worlds of the MCU’s Phase 5.


What If…? Revealed Justin Hammer Got More Powerful In Prison

Justin Hammer smiling in What If season 2

In the What If…? season 2 episode 3, “What If… Happy Hogan Saved Christmas?” the Justin Hammer of another reality is revealed to have broken out of prison and assembled a team of armed goons. Seeking revenge on his business rival and Tony Stark, Hammer orchestrates a plan to take over Stark Tower and turn the Iron Legion rogue. The What If…? Christmas episode further reveals that Hammer has been training himself in the prison yard, picking up several martial arts in the process. That’s why Hammer, who was earlier thought of as just a shrewd businessman, also becomes a master of hand-to-hand combat in this alternate reality.

This character transformation, in many ways, makes Hammer comparable to Stark himself. Without the Iron Man armor and the arc reactor powering his heart, Stark was a superhero without any superpowers. But his scientific prowess and industrial armory aside, MCU’s Iron Man is also a skilled fighter. Iron Man 2 finds him sparring with MMA techniques against Hogan, while Iron Man 3 shows a sparring dummy in his house, implying his interest in diverse martial arts. So, if Hammer, with his scientific expertise and weaponry, has increased his physical endurance in What If…?, this MCU reality might have an interesting counterpart to Stark.

Justin Hammer’s Return In Armor Wars Can Wrap Up His MCU Story

What If…? might have only featured a variant of Justin Hammer, but the evil arms dealer can return in the MCU’s Earth-199999 timeline as he is not dead yet. Iron Man 2 is the last time Hammer has been seen on the big screen, and he also made an appearance in prison in the Marvel One-Shot “All Hail The King.” If this version goes through a similar transformation while imprisoned, Hammer can be a compelling villain in the upcoming MCU series Armor Wars. While the show might not bring back Tony Stark since he died in Avengers: Endgame, Hammer’s return is possible.

One of Justin Hammer’s comic book creators is David Michelinie, who also created War Machine, Venom, Carnage, and Ant-Man (Scott Lang).

Since his introduction to Iron Man 2, Hammer has had his eyes on Stark’s technology and has attempted to coerce the US government into putting pressure on Stark to revoke his patent for the Iron Man armor. This move would have easily allowed a competitor like Hammer Industries to enter the weaponized armor market. Now, with Stark out of the way, he can easily be one of the Iron Man villains returning in Armor Wars. If he indeed breaks out of prison like his What If…? variant, Hammer can finally be a compelling threat to Iron Man’s current allies like James Rhodes instead of just being used for comedic relief.

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