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 1×06 focuses on Killmonger and Tony Stark in a way I didn’t know I needed.
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 Lizzie to review What If…? Join us each week as we rejoice, commiserate, and hopefully enjoy the show. Let’s do this!
Lynnie: Killmonger in this episode was even more badass than he was in the movie (and he was plenty badass). The cool thing was that they used his considerable intelligence to take on Tony Stark, arguably one of the smartest people in the MCU, as well as T’Challa, Shuri (the smartest), and all of Wakanda. It was fascinating to see his plot unravel in a new way and how he managed to orchestrate a war between the Americans and the Wakandans. He didn’t try to strong-arm anyone or bully his way through like he did in the movie. Instead, he let other people’s biases and assumptions work for him so that he became the next Black Panther and took on Wakanda from the inside.
Lizzie: It was interesting that this episode allowed Killmonger a chance to be better at strategy than the Black Panther movie did. This was actually a good plan! In a way, I guess what this episode proved is that, no matter what universe he inhabits, Killmonger is truly the best MCU villain? Somehow, though, despite how interesting Killmonger was, and the fact that I had fun seeing this alternate universe, I just …didn’t feel any emotional connection to Killmonger in this, even if I sort of did in Black Panther. So this left the episode as more or less another thought exercise for me, entertaining, but not something I care much for or want to revisit.
Lyra: Honestly…this episode felt weak. And it was absolutely due to the fact that I didn’t have that emotional connection with Killmonger. I did in Black Panther. He was compelling, dynamic, and made you feel his pain. In this episode of What If…? I just felt like he was going through the paces and ended up being pretty predictable aka the last thing you want sometimes. That’s especially trying for a series that makes you think about the endless possibilities of the multiverse.
Lynnie: The most difficult part of the episode was seeing Killmonger murder Tony and T’Challa for me. I know that he was chasing revenge and that he was willing to do whatever it took, but seeing some of my favorite heroes die was difficult. I took solace in the truth that it was in another universe, but it was still hard to see T’Challa be so casually taken down considering he’s one of the strongest, best heroes in the MCU. How’d you feel about it? And did you have a part that was harder to watch?
Lizzie: Tony’s death should have been the hardest, and it was hard, but I think, perhaps, the fact that I already watched Tony die – even if I’ve ignored it – helped me a bit. T’Challa is a different thing, it was bad to see him die, and it was really, really bad to see Rhodey die. I didn’t even know I cared so much about Rhodey, and then they killed him. Honestly, if I learned anything in this episode is that everyone should listen to Pepper Potts.
Lyra: Seeing the flashback of Tony saying, “I am Iron Man.” brought on the tears. I’m still not over it. Never will be over it. And I was sad for T’Challa and Rhodey, but they didn’t get me in the feels. That changed during the closing scene where the Watcher says, “Heroes are never really gone. They live forever. As do the ones they inspire to carry on the fight.” Then I started thinking of T’Challa. That led to Chadwick Boseman. Then the tears happened because the impact that man has had on our world and its people will forever be remembered. And yes, I mean forever. Someone as kind, compassionate, and giving as Boseman lives on in our memories of him forever.
Lynnie: The queen being the general and fighting the murder robots was a lot of fun, and I loved seeing her be a badass and win her battles with all that grace and beauty. I also really liked how they focused on Killmonger’s story, his intelligence, and his perspective, in a way that we didn’t really get in the movie. I mean, I hated him, and I hated him hurting people I like, but he makes a really good, compelling villain. So, what was your favorite part of the episode?
Lizzie: My favorite part of the episode was Queen Ramonda – or is it General Ramonda?- kicking ass. Or okay, maybe my favorite part was the end, with Pepper and Shuri, a combo I never knew I needed. And wait, wait …I gotta mention that part with T’Challa warning Killmonger, because just …hearing Chadwick still makes me emotional, okay?
Lyra: DANG IT, LIZZIE. I just stopped crying over Chadwick and here I am again. Shoutout to the people who have worked on What If…? to continue telling the story of one of the best Avengers out there.
Lynnie: That ending was rude in a lot of ways, mostly because I wanted to see Shuri and Pepper be the heroes of the story, see them stop a war, save Wakanda, and bring peace to the world. I suppose that means it’s good storytelling, in that I want to see more. I’m already imagining a dozen ways they could take on Killmonger, all of them inevitably circling back to the queen and the Dora Milaje.
What about you? What would you like to see happen, and would you like to see more of this world?
Lizzie: I actually didn’t really care until the ending, which means they did something right, because in some of these episodes they lost me at the ending. This one actually introduced a possibility I was interested in – apparently my perfect What If…? story is the women of the MCU fighting together.
Lyra: The ending is what sealed it for me. I’ve been so hesitant about what’s to come with the Black Panther movies but…seeing Shuri stand up like that and make such bold moves has given me hope. She can be that badass. I feel it in my bones, and you know that T’Challa would be proud. And Chadwick, if he was still here he’d be the first one to say, “Let’s do this!”