Our What If…? episode 2 review discusses every detail of T’Challa’s trip to space as he assumes the moniker of Star-Lord.
Last week on What If…? episode 1, we saw what happened when Peggy became a super soldier and assumed the moniker of Captain Carter.
As the Watcher continues to preside over the infinite stories Marvel has yet to tell, we’re brought along for the journey, whether they take place on Earth or in a galaxy far from this one.
One of my favorite aspects of this series is that it calls back to the Marvel movies we’re familiar with—whether it’s through a place, a character, or a specific line of dialog. Then it subsequently makes a hard left into new territory.
Perhaps the second episode of Marvel’s What If… is even better than the first, not least because it reunites us once again with Chadwick Boseman, who finds himself amongst the stars.
‘What If…?’ episode 2 review
In a different life
In this reality, the change is a bit more significant than with Peggy Carter’s episode. Instead of Yondu picking up his quarry, he sends his men to do it for him. But they don’t return with Peter Quill—they pick up T’Challa instead.
It’s a pretty significant mistake, but the galaxy might be all the better for it. Where our Star-Lord isn’t too worried about doing the right thing in the beginning, T’Challa takes home the title for Best Ravager in the Galaxy.
This really is a beautiful story—one where T’Challa wishes to explore the stars, gets his chance at a different life, and spends 20 years doing what he can to improve the livelihood of billions of people across the universe.
Though this episode was obviously filmed before his death, the story feels like an homage to Chadwick Boseman and his legacy as Black Panther. T’Challa has always been a good person, but with the entire universe at his fingertips, you can see how much he could’ve done if given the chance.
The episode ends with “Dedicated to our friend, our inspiration and our hero, Chadwick Boseman,” and it’s hard to imagine any other episode in this series will have a bigger impact than this one. Out of the first three episodes, the What If…? episode 2 review was the one I was most excited to write.
The friends we make along the way
One of the best parts of this episode is seeing all the characters we know and love (or hate) show up as different versions of themselves. It’ll be hard to fit all of them into this What If…? episode 2 review, but I’m certainly going to try.
At the beginning of the episode, we see T’Challa on Morag, where he runs into Korath the Pursuer (Djimon Hounsou). Hilariously, Korath has heard of this Star-Lord, and he’s a huge fan! After beating up his men, T’Challa takes Korath under his wing to join the crew.
Korath’s enthusiasm was my favorite part about this episode. He’s such a fun-loving guy, and you really wouldn’t have known that from the versions that came previously. His reverence for T’Challa provided more than a few chuckles, but it’s also reflective of how many people see this character.
Where Peter Quill isn’t the brightest bulb in the pack, T’Challa is clever, charming, and smooth. He’s kept all his previous regality, which is why he’s been able to surround himself with such a large and loyal group.
Yondu is pretty much the same character as he is in the movies, though he’s been influenced heavily by T’Challa’s good nature. The others Ravagers aren’t too different either, though they all follow Star-Lord’s lead without much prompting.
The most intriguing addition to the team is Thanos. T’Challa was able to talk him out of destroying half the universe with a snap of his fingers by finding a solution for their dwindling resources. If T’Challa’s Star-Lord wasn’t impressive already, this certainly seals the deal.
As a side note, Thanos would like it to be known that his plan would have been more efficient.
Drax shows up as a bartender, and thanks to—you guessed it—T’Challa, his wife and daughter are still alive. Nebula makes a grander entrance, and her soft cooing of “Cha-Cha” has a ring of intimate familiarity that I quite enjoyed. They’re the ship I didn’t know I wanted and now cannot live without.
Unfortunately, we don’t see Gamora, Rocket, or Groot in this episode, which I was looking forward to writing about in this What If…? episode 2 review, but there’s only so much room on the ship. Out of everyone, I would’ve liked to see Gamora the most, but it was nice to see Nebula have a softer role in this reality.
It was all a ruse
Nebula brings T’Challa another mission—steal the Embers of Genesis from the Collector, which will allow them to terraform millions of planets and save billions of people.
In this reality, the Collector is a kingpin—and surprisingly jacked. He’s less concerned about saving planets than he is making sure he has the dopest wall displays. The Black Order guards his fortress on Knowhere, but Nebula has a way in. They just need Korath and Captain Genocide to cause a diversion.
Once inside, T’Challa runs into Howard the Duck (“When you’re out of luck, always go duck”), but the Collector is waiting. While T’Challa was in on Nebula’s ruse as a way to pay off her debt (“Classic Star-Lord”), no one knew about the ship he’d find in the collection.
Yondu told T’Challa Wakanda was destroyed in a senseless war, but a message on the ship proves King T’Chaka never stopped looking for his son. Although initially upset by Yondu’s lie, T’Challa forgives him. He wanted to see the stars, after all, and Yondu granted his wish.
When the Collector attempts to put T’Challa on display, Star-Lord tells him he’s no one important, and then challenges him to a fight. The Collector agrees, and he pulls up his arsenal, which contains Cap’s shield and Hela’s helmet, amongst other artifacts.
But the only thing stronger than the Collector is family (Dom Toretto would be proud). As Nebula goes back to rescue Thanos, Yondu goes back for his adopted son. They put the Collector in a box of his own, and then hand over the controls to Carina, who sets everyone else free to exact their revenge.
In the end, T’Challa returns home, and his father welcomes him with open arms. It’s interesting seeing the crew interacting with the people of Wakanda, especially when Thanos embarrasses Nebula by trying to explain how efficient genocide is.
Before the credits roll, we also get to see what happened to Peter Quill. He ended up sweeping floors at Dairy Queen before his father showed up in his egg-shaped ship. Without the Guardians by his side, would Peter even have a chance to resist his father’s megalomania? How else would Yondu’s decision change the course of history as we know it?
These are the kinds of questions that make writing articles like this What If…? episode 2 review so interesting.