In Marvel’s What If…?, the fan-favorite Marvel Zombies made their transition from comics to the screen but with a few significant differences. Although both versions follow a similar storyline as the dwindling few heroes struggle to survive while trying to cure the virus that has overtaken their world, the episodes’ ending went in a completely different direction with a familiar threat making itself known instead of Earth’s Hungriest Heroes taking their mission into space like in the comics.
In Marvel Zombies by Robert Kirkman and Sean Phillips, the Marvel heroes from a parallel dimension have an infected hero appear from an unknown world who turns the Avengers, beginning an invasion that devours the non-powered population while turning any superhuman into ravenous yet intelligent monsters. In Marvel’s What If…Zombies?, a version of the MCU is under attack by a zombie virus brought from the Quantum Zone by Hank Pym in his doomed attempt to save his wife Janet. Heroes and villains connected to the arrival of Thanos quickly learn of the fate that has befallen this Earth as the survivors struggle with the horrors that used to be their friends but also the decisions of others during this dark time.
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In the original Marvel Zombies, the undead heroes learn of the Silver Surfer’s arrival, surveying the desolate world to make sure it is worthy of consumption by his master, Galactus. Having never betrayed his planet-eating master nor spent time on Earth, Norrin Radd has little sympathy for the planet’s fate, but he still finds himself overwhelmed and consumed. When the zombies who consume the Surfer learn that they also absorb pieces of his Power Cosmic, they decide to set a trap for Galactus, hungry not only for his flesh but also his phenomenal cosmic power.
Although many undead heroes and villains perished at the hands of Galactus’ new heralds or from Galactus himself, the comic book Marvel Zombies were successful at defeating and consuming the devourer of worlds. Because nature abhors a vacuum, these zombies would become the new Galactus, traveling throughout the galaxy devouring all alien life they come across. In the MCU, Galactus has yet to be established so the big threat is an undead Thanos with a nearly assembled Infinity Gauntlet. Another significant difference is that the show focuses more on the survivors and their battle against the undead while the comics focus is the zombies, the former heroes who’ve become the kind of entity they used to fight against. While the fate of the few surviving humans on Earth was explored, the comic was overall monopolized by the zombies who had mostly given up on a cure and only wanted to consume until there was nothing left.
Like other classic stories of their genre, both versions of Marvel Zombies ended on cliffhangers. While the comics zombies learned to overcome their hunger, they were tricked into being teleported to another dimension that they would consume and hopefully be contained within. In Marvel’s What If…?, the survivors, armed with a cure, head to Wakanda where the battle from Avengers: Infinity War threatens to go in a different direction. Although it would have been great to see a version of Galactus in the MCU, it seems fans are still going to have to wait.