Disney+’s What If…? is both Marvel’s first attempt at playing in the multiverse sandbox, and the first animated show set fully in the MCU. But What If…? doesn’t seem interested in being a placeholder for the live-action shows, it’s got stories to tell, and some of them might end up being as interesting as the ones we originally saw. Episode 1×01 focuses on Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes and …Peggy Carter. Except this time, it’s Peggy Carter who takes the serum, and instead of Captain America we have …Captain Carter.
A show with so many characters and perspectives felt like it required more than one voice. So, I’m teaming up with my friends Lyra and Lynnie to review What If…? Join us each week as we rejoice, commiserate, and hopefully enjoy the show. Let’s do this!
Lizzie: First of all, the concept was fun, wasn’t it? I will admit that even though I enjoyed Captain America: First Avenger the most out of all the Captain America movies, as someone who didn’t watch Agent Carter I never felt this great sense of connection to Peggy. In fact, this might be my favorite Peggy. Big words, I know. But there’s also something about this Steve! He’s a “little guy,” but he figured out he didn’t need the muscles to be a hero. He was already one. And even though we didn’t get that much of Bucky, it was nice to see that in this universe, he didn’t become the Winter Soldier.
Lyra: I never thought a day would come where fanfiction was brought to life but here we are with Captain Carter and I’m absolutely loving it. I should’ve known from the very start that I would enjoy it. I have a love for buff women that can bench press me with one arm. Combine that with Peggy’s smarts, loyalty, drive, and determination, and you’ve got an unstoppable powerhouse that Hydra should be terrified of. And because this is fanfiction, What If…? took the things that I loved from the first Captain America and the show Agent Carter and gave me something fresh and unique. Now, I want more.
Lynnie: I really enjoyed this twist on the tale. The thing that stuck out to me the most was that Peggy was a cooler Captain America (Captain U.K.? Captain England? Captain Colonizer?). Sorry, Steve! She had fights that showed the effectiveness of the serum in that she could toss five men at once, got to move like a dancer, and was seen attacking tanks, cars, and even castles with the sort of high-flying larger-than-life fun and swagger that wasn’t matched in the first movie.
She was a lot of fun, too, and playful in a way that I’ve missed in my superhero shows. Also, her connection to Steve was lovely. I like that she still saw him despite not being the earth’s mightiest hero because of a serum. Like she said, he was her hero for being him and that was beautifully done.
Lizzie: We did get more of Steve and Peggy in this episode – and in a way I, again, enjoyed more than I did in the live-action movies. There was a certain tenderness to their relationships that really worked for me. But of course, we got more or less the same ending as in the original Captain America, because their love just isn’t meant to be, apparently. (You hear that, Avengers: Endgame?). Is Marvel just allergic to happiness or are they so convinced this super-soldier idea only works if the super soldier is alone? Both?
Lyra: Honestly, I’ve never really shipped Peggy and Steve. It was cute but it never touched my heart. This version of Peggy and Steve….THEY’VE STOLEN MY HEART AND I’M OKAY IF THEY KEEP IT! Every moment they had built up on their relationship, slowly developing into a power couple to end all. And I loved how they accepted each other, lifted each other up, and respected each other’s strengths. Seriously, I needed more and I was a little bummed out at the way it ended. MA BABIES! *sobs*
Lynnie: Unlike the heathen that is Lyra, I did ship Steve and Peggy in the original. I thought they did a good job of showing two people who were alike in their headstrong tendencies and the ‘tackle the world because the world tells them no’ mindset.
This episode, however, showed me more of that tenderness and love than I ever got in the movies. It made me wish that Peggy had been more on Steve’s team, fighting alongside him, in the first movie because they were a lot of fun to watch together and see working as a team. She was sidelined way too much for me.
But the thing that got me from a pure shipper point of view was the train scene. If we parallel this to the movies and the person who died on the train was Captain America’s love interest then does that mean Bucky was his one true boo all along? Curious minds want to know!
Either way, this version of Steve and Peggy was sweet, fun, and felt more organic and closer to each other than I ever felt they were before.
Lizzie: One thing we got in this version that we didn’t in the Steve one is a big deal of misogyny, oh yay! But in a way, I was glad that was in there. We aren’t in space, we’re in a very specific time period and those people would have behaved just like that. I also just really liked the multiple visuals of Peggy kicking men’s asses, over and over again. Also, we haven’t talked about how Howard Stark basically built Steve AN IRON MAN SUIT!!! The ironies of life, I swear. But also, that tesseract is trouble, lol.
Lyra: Oh misogyny, Captain Carter kicked your ass! She showed everyone that she was more than capable of being the soldier they needed. Or the Captain they needed. And watching her discover her strengths was fun and does so well in a way that Captain America could never. Also, it was just really nice to see a woman like me transforming into someone already inside of her and saving the day. That makes her a boss-ass bitch!
Lynnie: I think it’d be unrealistic to show Captain Carter without the male-dominated realities of war. Since the Marvel Universe tries to act like it’s real life, just extra, all the bad shit is a reality too. Misogyny is part of that. My favorite scene where they defied expectations was when the big blond Nazi walked out like they always show in the movies – rolling his neck, strutting like he’s got a little more dingle to his dangle, you know, the works – and then was immediately put down. I loved that they didn’t waste time trying to make her anything less than badass. I mean, Steve in the movies had to fight a guy in red paint. Peggy Carter had to fight an entire elseworld beast larger than a castle. It’s clear who the real badass is here. (I also enjoyed the physics of Peggy being lost in another dimension and losing 70 years than a man being frozen in ice. All of the science here felt more sensible and grounded, so go writers!)
Lizzie: What would have been your perfect What If…? for these characters? I really liked the Bucky part, at least he didn’t have to be tortured for all those years. I’m not a big Steggy shipper, so I wasn’t exactly mourning the separation – which I also wasn’t mourning when it was the other way around. But, with all due respect, if we keep the Bucky part, I’ll take Steve as the soldier and Peggy as the mastermind behind …well, so much. Peggy Carter changed the world already, without the serum. Steve Rogers is an outstanding man and a great hero, but …is the world better without Peggy Carter in it for all those years? I don’t think so.
Lyra: All of this basically goes to show you that Marvel could’ve brought us even more Agent Carter. And while I’m satisfied in this moment with this small sip, I want a whole pitcher and then some of how Peggy Carter changed the world by punching one asshole at a time.
Lynnie: My perfect What If…? was pretty close to this. All of them working more as a team and doing their thing instead of Peggy sitting on the sidelines and there being a short montage of Captain America saluting and shooting guns. I’d have wanted more of Bucky chiming in with the sass and following the heroic assholes around in exasperation and saying things like, “Sorry, gotta go save my impulsive idiots from themselves.” Or just rolling his eyes repeatedly. I guess I just like the family feels of it all, and crave more of it now that they did it so well in this episode.
Also, my head cannon is that Steve and Bucky lived happily ever after Peggy was sucked into the anus of doom, with Steve fighting crime in the original Iron Man suit and being uncles to Tony and showing him good parenting. Which means he turned out much less damaged and way more altruistic, and eventually starts his hero journey to honor them. And of course loses his shit when he meets the one and only Peggy Carter.
I think they’d all build a happier world that way.
Did you enjoy What If…? Share with us in the comments below!