“What If… T’Challa Became a Star Lord?” Review and Discussion

Amanda and Reagan are here to talk about the latest episode of Marvel’s What If….?

GateCrashers’ coverage of What If…? returns with Amanda and Reagan’s discussion of episode two. Beware – there be spoilers ahead!

What You Missed in Episode One:

If you haven’t seen the memes, then you probably need a bit of a refresh on what the series premiere of What If…? was all about. I can break it down for you in three words:

Captain. Peggy. Carter.

In the first episode of What If…?, Peggy takes the super-soldier serum in Steve’s stead, following a series of what the Watcher identifies as small choices that make a big impact. She becomes Captain Carter, Howard essentially makes Steve an Iron Man suit, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Peggy and Steve never did get that dance.

Now, back to your Episode Two coverage with Amanda and Reagan!

Reagan: Episode Two of What If…? follows a version of T’Challa who was taken by Ravagers and became a very different Star-Lord from Peter Quill. Take for example the first scene of this episode. It’s basically the same as the first scene of Guardians of the Galaxy except people actually like T’Challa. 

Amanda: I mean, I would definitely argue that people liked Peter until we properly found out that Chr*s Pr*tt sucked, ahaha. Unless of course, you meant characters in-universe actually like T’Challa as opposed to Peter, which… very fair, and I love it. Nothing tickled me more than watching the scenes and characters we know so well happening through the lens of T’Challa as Star-Lord. Korath being a huge Star-Lord fanboy? Was so. Good. And also, Drax’s family still being alive? Because of T’Challa? RIP me.

I also really loved T’Challa’s dynamic with Nebula and also Nebula as a character in general. While I absolutely adore the character journey they took Nebula one in the Infinity Saga, it was nice seeing her as someone who was confident and fully in control of her own life (to a certain extent), rather than buckling under Thanos’ thumb. I couldn’t get with the blond hair, though. I was very confused by that. 

The Collector was also super fun here! They made him a lot more bad-ass, which was kind of cool. I don’t dislike the film’s characterization of the Collector, because I like that he’s a little weird and squirrely, but it was fun to actually watch him fight to defend and expand his collection as opposed to letting it all just languish. What’s the point of a collection you don’t use? What a waste. Get with the times, theatrical film releases!

I will say, though, there was a severe lack of 80s music, aka, GotG’s biggest money-maker.

Reagan: T’Challa and Yondu’s relationship is really interesting in that they’re actually like father and son here whereas we didn’t get that between Yondu and Peter until the very end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

Amanda: I’m a big ole sap for a good father/son dynamic, so I was absolutely one of those people that fell for Peter and Yondu’s relationship in GotG2 (“He may have been your father, boy, but he wasn’t your daddy” dear god), and it was really nice to see a different side of that dynamic here with T’Challa and Yondu. “I’m not leaving without my kid” HELLO???

So while Peter and Yondu’s relationship had a foundation of animosity that stemmed from a lack of communication (and, y’know… trying to kill each other), T’Challa and Yondu showed mutual respect for each other and actually listened to one another. Honestly, this episode of What If…? goes a long way in showing us the kind of Star-Lord we could’ve had. *Adele voice* WE COULD’VE HAD IT AAAAAAAAAAAALL

Reagan: Let’s talk about Thanos. This Thanos is, like a lot of the characters we see in this, someone who has been changed by the fact that they encountered T’Challa. He’s given up his quest to kill half of the universe with the infinity stones.

Amanda: Yo, Thanos showed up and I SCREAMED I was so shocked. I was flabbergasted. I was ready to rumble. I was like SIR. PLEASE. And then this man was all T’Challa showed me the error of my ways, they’re really just out here hammering the point home. We get it! T’Challa is a vastly superior human being!! We already been knew!!! 

The frequent (and…kind of jarring) references to genocide were perhaps a little on-the-nose for me; I don’t think they needed to say it quite so many times, but also, this is coming from me, a person who was very aware that Thanos committed genocide. I’m also sadly, incredibly aware that there are people on this earth who thought he had a good idea in that noggin of his…to which I say…please…get off the internet…

Reagan: I think the stinger at the end with Peter and Ego could have been removed. The rest of the episode feels like a loving tribute to Boseman and his character and to have what feels like an ending show a scene with two completely unrelated characters feels unnecessary and a little bit jarring, especially when it’s almost immediately followed by an in memoriam for Boseman. 

Amanda: I totally agree with that. So much of this episode was not only just… a fun look at how literally everything is better when T’Challa is around, but also worked as a wonderful reminder that Chadwick really did enrich the lives of everyone around him. (Though, of course, I love Kurt Russell so much that I’m willing to overlook it.) I think it could’ve been a fun little bit after the in memoriam.

And also, as someone who’s watched the first three episodes already, I fully believe that this should’ve been the series opener. While I know episode one has a lot of great meme material and I do love the role reversal of Captain Carter and Steve Rogers, I just think this story has more heft and fun to it. Though I guess I can see why they’d want to start with What If…?’s chosen First Avenger. 

But for anyone who may have gotten through the first episode and said “that was okay” I implore you to stick around for this week’s episode. In my opinion, this is exactly what What If…? stands to bring us more of—a deep appreciation for the stories we already know and love, and an even deeper fondness for the amazing characters and actors who have told them to us.

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