Most What If? stories center around a single different decision causing an alternate path of events. By contrast, this week’s What If? episode is an unlikely, wild mash-up of two MCU tales.
The movie worlds of Iron Man and Black Panther collide in Episode 6’s “What If…Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?”, producing a very fascinating alternate series of events. But, as in many What If? tales, the journey may be different, but often the end results are very similar if not the same.
It should be no spoiler to say that in any reality, Eric Killmonger will be a vindictive asshole and a cold-blooded killer, obsessed with revenge, the Wakandan throne, and the desire to reshape the world, as he showed in our world’s MCU. One look at Killmonger's face on the episode poster will tell you that. This is a story that won't end well.
Killmonger’s path through this alternative MCU begins with him being in the unlikeliest of places: in the same part of Afghanistan, just as Tony Stark’s convoy is ambushed (or, is this all part of Killmonger's grand plan?). The Stark Industries missile that lands next to Tony in the first Iron Man movie is quickly picked up by badass American soldier Eric Killmonger and thrown away, before it can explode and critically injure Stark. Without the injury to his chest, and his capture by the Ten Rings terrorist organization, Tony Stark had no reason to develop a miniaturized arc reactor or the first Iron Man armor. So, Killmonger’s intervention robs this alternate reality of its Iron Man. It also robs the world of Stark’s come-to-Jesus moment where he renounces Stark Industries’ commitment to weapons development. Instead, he doubles down.
The rest of the episode reveals a complex web of planning by Killmonger to achieve his goals. Many events mirror those in the Black Panther movie, especially Killmonger’s arrival and reunion with his uncle, King T-Chaka. But it is the divergent events that are so interesting and what makes What If…? stories so imaginative and unpredictable.
In past reviews, I have mentioned the fluctuation in the quality/accuracy in the effort to produce recognizable likenesses of the actors reprising their movie roles. With the exception of Killmonger, not enough effort seems to have been made to do so across the board. Why spend the money to have these actors voice their roles if you aren’t going to make the animated characters look like them? It may sound nitpicky to some, but to me it’s a job worth doing well, especially since all the What If? stories are direct references to MCU movies and scenes we are all familiar with.
Once again, another What If…? episode ends with a ray of hope that sets up the possibility of a sequel in Season 2.
The 9-episode first season of What If…?airs Wednesdays on Disney Plus