Why Heimdall Is So Bad At His One Job | Screen Rant

WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Marvel's What If...? episode 7.

Marvel's What If...? episode 7 continues the MCU's habit of depicting Heimdall as oblivious and bad at his job despite being the one Asgardian who is supposed to be able to see everything. 2011's Thor introduced Idris Elba's Heimdall as Asgard's powerful gatekeeper. With the ability to see and hear everything across the universe, Heimdall is supposed to be the most effective guard a kingdom could wish to have. However, Heimdall fails to spot every single invasion attempt that happens to Asgard and the Nine Realms in the MCU, and now that What If...? episode 7 brought him back, he has also failed to watch over Thor during his trip to Earth.

A group of Frost Giants manages to infiltrate Odin's vault in Thor and almost succeeds in stealing the Casket of Ancient Winters. Shortly afterward, Heimdall realizes Loki has concealed the group from Heimdall's sight in order to travel to Jotunheim and back without him noticing. After Heimdall ignores acting king Loki's orders to close access to the Bifrost so the Warriors Three can travel to Earth to speak to Thor, Loki is able to freeze him, leaving the Bifrost Bridge vulnerable and resulting in its destruction. In Thor: The Dark World, Heimdall loses track of Jane Foster and fails to stop Malekith's attack on Asgard after the Dark Elf leader glamoured their ships invisible, which results in Frigga's death. It's only when Heimdall goes underground after Hela's invasion in Thor: Ragnarok that he truly becomes helpful, as he informs Thor of Hela's moves, keeps the Asgardians in hiding safe, and joins the final battle against her. Before his death at the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War, Heimdall makes his biggest contribution by sending Hulk to Earth so he can warn Doctor Strange and Tony Stark about Thanos.

Related: The MCU Just Forgot Mjolnir’s Rules

Now, Heimdall's only job in What If...? episode 7 is to watch over Thor while Odin remains in Odinsleep and Frigga visits her friends. As is usual for him, Heimdall only realizes everything has gone wrong when it's too late, as Jane Foster has to send him a signal so she can warn Frigga about Thor's dangerous party on Earth, thus saving the world from catastrophe at the very last second. Heimdall is often incapacitated or forgotten, but this time he has no reason not to intervene and no reason to have not seen Thor, who doesn't have Loki's powers of concealment or the Dark Elves' powers of invisibility. However, it's precisely because Heimdall is so powerful that he's been so bad at his job throughout the MCU.

Heimdall's all-seeing abilities make him one of the most powerful figures in all of Marvel. He can predict any event across the universe long before it happens. So, for any conflict to work, the MCU has to put him out of action so the plot can move forward. Otherwise, Heimdall could inform Odin, Frigga, and other heroes of any potential inconvenience right away and any story would grind to a halt in a matter of seconds. Thus, he needs to be kneecapped by some contrived means, like Superman with kryptonite, and previous movies have suggested that Heimdall has overlooked most major attacks due to magical interference (i.e. the Dark Elves' invisible ship and the Aether in Jane Foster's body).

It could be argued that, like many times in the past, Heimdall disobeys Odin and Frigga's orders in order to let their son have some fun in secret (like the time he helped Loki become the mysterious D.B. Cooper after losing a bet to Thor). However, it makes no sense that he puts the fate of the Nine Realms at risk in Marvel's What If...? episode 7. Ultimately, the reason that Heimdall keeps failing at his job is purely out of narrative necessity. If he didn't, he would be the MCU's greatest killjoy.

More: Marvel’s What If Just Went Too Far

Marvel’s What If…? releases new episodes Wednesdays on Disney+.



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