The latest Marvel Disney+ series, What If…? kicked off last week with the introduction of Captain Carter. The animated anthology series, much like the comic with the same name, explores alternate timelines in the multiverse and sees what might have happened if critical moments in history occurred differently. In the most recent episode, we witness how the cosmic universe would change if a young Wakandan prince was kidnapped instead of Peter Quill.
T’Challa in space is much like the man we’re familiar with; idealistic and just. He’s become a Robin Hood-esque figure to the galaxy and his band of Merry Men are the Ravagers. This Star-Lord steals items to save worlds. He sets his sites on something bigger that has the power to change billions of lives on millions of planets. Unfortunately, the item is owned by the Collector, the biggest and baddest crime boss around.
The second episode of What If…? is an amusing romp. It’s an exciting heist story with great action, double crosses, and suspense. It captures the eccentric feel and humor of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy films while seamlessly incorporating T’Challa into this corner of the MCU. The character’s positive personality is so infectious that he changes those he is around into better people.
There are so many interesting takes on the different characters. Korath provides a healthy amount of comic relief being a huge Star-Lord fan boy. He’s so eager to learn and follow in the ways of his idol and is the incessant hype man. Thanos may be as fierce, but he’s a lot more mellow which is a testament to T’Challa’s influence. If Black Panther went up into space, the entire Infinity Saga may have been less eventful. Even Yondu has softened up. I doubt he’s ever threatened to eat his young ward and provides all the support to nurture T’Challa’s explorative and philanthropic endeavors.
The version of Taneleer Tivan in this episode of What If…? is a formidable foe who has tons of weapons at his disposal. He also has the Black Order working his security detail. It’s fun going through Tivan’s menagerie and seeing all the various Easter Eggs. Howard the Duck makes an appearance, although this might be the only animated form of him we’ll see considering his Hulu series was scrapped.
The episode also hits the emotional beats investigating the parent/child bond. There is the complicated relationship between Thanos and Nebula with the former always trying to make amends. More importantly, is T’Challa’s longing to return to Wakanda.
Despite all the adventures and good deeds he’s done in space, home still tugs at his heart. He gains a father figure in Yondu, but things become problematic when he discovers the truth. How our protagonist overcomes and reconciles with is adoptive dad is uplifting and leads to an awesome team-up. T’Challa, a noble rogue, also receives the Hollywood ending he deserves but in true What If…? spirit, a dark turn occurs elsewhere and it’s not all good news, particularly for Peter Quill.
The episode combines thrills and laughs with a poignant tale about never forgetting your roots. The overall upbeat and bright tone is a fitting way to spotlight T’Challa in one of Chadwick Boseman’s final performances as the character.