What If…? returns this week with a second episode that greatly improves upon the first. Where the Captain Carter episode had surface-level changes that barely affected the narrative, episode 2 is the exact opposite. The second episode of the series asks the question, What if T’Challa was taken by the Ravagers instead of Peter Quill? Moreover, instead of giving us a beat-for-beat remake of the first volume of Guardians like the Captain Carter episode did of First Avenger, we’re given a new story entirely. This second episode shows the true potential of What If? and filled with heart and a truly engaging story.
Chadwick Boseman is at the center of this episode. Playing a version of T’Challa that becomes Star-Lord, Boseman’s presence in this episode is profoundly heartbreaking, and audiences will cherish every minute of it. Boseman is more charming than ever, playing a T’Challa unburdened by a throne of the nation. Rather, a swashbuckling hero of the oppressed who has helped make the galaxy a better place.
Along for the ride are T’Challa’s team of ravagers. Filled with several familiar faces from the cosmic side of the MCU, this team of Ravagers is a pleasant surprise. Veteran MCU actors like Karen Gillian, Djimon Hounsou, Michael Rooker, and a few other surprise guests make up T’Challa’s team. Seeing someone else other than Peter Quill in the role of Star-Lord made for a hilarious change of circumstances.
T’Challa is implied to be overall more efficient, kind-hearted, and influential in the galaxy when put in Quill’s place. The hilarious meta-commentary on the dichotomy of the two characters is what the show is all about. One change in a character’s place in the universe could change everything.
In terms of story, this second episode is a heist/action mixup that has T’Challa go up against the Collector. It’s a creative plot that differentiates itself from previous Guardians adventures we’ve seen makes for exciting new content. The animation is able to convey even more fantastical elements than the previous episode as well.
The Collector’s base on Knowhere, beautifully depicted in premium animation format, shows the capabilities of this series. Moreover, the Collector himself is changed for this alternate universe to be more of a threat than ever. Amidst the heist and top-notch action, T’Challa is given a heartwarming character arc as well. This Star-Lord isn’t afraid to come to grips with his past. Rather, he embraces the past and learns to accept who he was as well as who he can be.
T’Challa’s relationship with Yondu also makes for an episode highlight. Rooker and Boseman work well together. More importantly, the interaction is one that would’ve never worked or made sense in the main canon. However, in What If…? anything is possible. The episode wraps up nicely and provides a heartwarming conclusion for this what-if scenario.
Overall, this second episode is a major improvement. In Chadwick Boseman‘s final performance as T’Challa, we get everything we loved about his performance of the character. This episode even serves as a reminder that no matter what reality, Boseman’s character is sure to leave a legacy of kindness, bravery, and loyalty. A positive force in whatever corner of the universe he’s in. A comforting thought for a life gone too soon. – Ernesto Valenzuela