What if major moments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe occurred differently? How different this universe would be? These alternate scenarios open all kinds of possibilities and as many comic-book fans know, it is endlessly fun to speculate and debate about the tantalising ‘what ifs’ and cook up our own stories for our favourite characters.
Marvel Studios’ anthology animated series What If…? crystallises a few of those scenarios. A trailer was unveiled on Thursday. Inspired from the alternate scenario storylines of the same name in Marvel Comics, it has Jeffrey Wright voicing The Watcher and narrating the series. The Watchers are a race of extraterrestrials (and one of the oldest) whose purpose is to watch over the multiverses. They appeared briefly in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.
Here are five major takeaways and the things you may have missed from the trailer:
Tony Stark is saved by Killmonger
Erik Killmonger saves Tony Stark in an alternate version of the ambush in the beginning of 2008’s Iron Man and is not actually captured by the Ten Rings. Killmonger is the king of Wakanda and Black Panther in the What If…? version of history, although it does not look like he has become that when he rescues Tony.
T’Challa is Star-Lord — Chadwick Boseman’s last role
Chadwick Boseman’s death last year sent a wave of shock across the world. What If…? will be the last time one can witness his performance, even if just his voice. T’Challa is not Black Panther and king of Wakanda in this imagined reality, he became a ravager and then Star-Lord instead of Peter Quill. We will have to see how far the series takes this obviously interesting premise. An earlier teaser for the series had shown a young T’Challa being abducted by Yondu and the ravagers.
Peggy Carter was injected with the Super Soldier serum in What If…? and not Steve Rogers, and became a superhero. Interestingly Peggy calls herself Captain Carter, and not Captain Britain, even though her chest and shield bear the Union Jack symbol. This might be an indication that we are going to see a Captain Britain in the main MCU continuity in near future.
The trailer shows the zombie versions of Iron Man and Captain America, a nod to the 2005-2006 storyline from comics written by Robert Kirkman (best known for The Walking Dead) and drawn by Sean Phillips. An alternate version of Marvel’s main continuity, it had superheroes being infected with a virus that turned them into flesh-eating monsters. The interesting thing is, they retain their intelligence and memories. For instance, they still know how to use their powers, which makes them far more dangerous than run-of-the-mill zombies. It appears What If…? is going to allow MCU fans to visit that universe.
A fleeting glimpse of Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch appears for a shot in the trailer. Is she Wanda Maximoff? What is her significance? We do not know yet. But we expect her story in the series as well as Doctor Strange’s to tie in with Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.
What If…? releases on August 11, 2021 on Disney+.