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Review: ‘What If…?’ Explores the Realm of Infinite Possibilities for Phase Four of the MCU and Beyond

August 10, 2021Ben MK

The notion of a multiverse is an idea that has existed within the pages of Marvel Comics for decades. However, it's only recently that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has begun exploring the concept, most notably in the recent Disney Plus miniseries Loki. Now, in the new series What If...?, the creative minds behind the MCU are taking things even further, with an anthology of stories that examines what might have been if the events we're all familiar with had unfolded just a little differently.

Marking Marvel Studios' first-ever animated series, this 10-episode journey into a comic book-inspired Twilight Zone of infinite, alternate realities features a who's who of Marvel's on-screen roster of characters — and it all begins with Peggy Carter. An elite agent of the Strategic Scientific Reserve, one of the founders of S.H.I.E.L.D., and, of course, the love interest of Steve Rogers, Peggy has always played a supporting role in the MCU. But what if she was one of its central figures? As the show's first episode illustrates, when Peggy is the one to receive the super soldier serum instead of Steve, she becomes Captain Carter, using her superior strength and agility — not to mention, her vibranium shield — to prove that women can be just as skilled in the battlefield as their male counterparts, as well as to defeat the Red Skull and save the world from an interdimensional invasion.

From there, the show jumps to Wakanda, where a young T'Challa is abducted by a group of aliens who also happen to be none other than Yondu Udonta and his mercenary crew of Ravagers. Fast forward 20 years, and T'Challa's absence from Earth has meant that his father, King T'Chaka, has had to find someone else to inherit the mantle of the Black Panther. Meanwhile, T'Challa has taken on a new name — Star Lord — and alongside Yondu and his crew, which also includes Thanos, Korath and Nebula, he fights to right the galaxy's wrongs. Much like an interplanetary version of the Avengers, this group is ready to take on any and all challengers. But when T'Challa learns that Yondu has been lying about the fate of his fellow Wakandans, will this betrayal lead to the end of the Ravagers?

Speaking of the Avengers, What If...?'s third entry is one that strikes at the very heart of the MCU. After all, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye and Captain America together form the very foundation on which the MCU was built — but what if Nick Fury's plans to assemble this group of Earth's Mightiest Heroes was thwarted before it could even begin? When a mysterious and stealthy assassin begins picking off the once and future Avengers before they even have a chance to come together and fight Loki and his Chitauri army in the Battle of New York, it's up to Black Widow to uncover the true identity of the elusive killer — before she becomes the next victim.

Guided by head writer A.C. Bradley and narrated by an omnipotent cosmic being known as the Watcher (Jeffrey Wright), the result not only builds upon Marvel Studios' rich and storied past, it also offers an exciting glimpse into its not-too-distant future. Suffice to say, if these first three episodes of What If...? are any indication of what's to come, then Marvel fans are most certainly in for a treat — and that's more than just mere speculation.

What If...? begins streaming August 11th, exclusively on Disney Plus.

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