This review contains very minor spoilers for episode six.
This week’s instalment of Marvel alternate universes showed us a world where on the fateful day when Tony Stark was attacked by the Ten Rings in Afghanistan, he was saved by Killmonger instead of being captured.
Unlike the Doctor Strange episode, this one understood why Tony Stark became Iron Man. He used Iron Man as a means to escape capture and then let the identity evolve into something all the more heroic. The writers here understood that without Stark being captured, he would never need to become Iron Man and wouldn’t really learn the same lessons he did in that film. This factor alone makes this episode one of the best of the series but it does also help a lot that the story was really great too.
Though the story seems to be more like an episode about Tony Stark, the real main character is Killmonger. He’s the driving force of the plot and the journey he goes down is thoroughly cool. Again, his character isn’t betrayed during this plot. All the things that he does are completely believable as actions that the villain from Black Panther would take. He has the same motivations, he just decided to act on them sooner. One could point out however that Iron Man is set just under 10 years before Black Panther so really the Killmonger here should be a younger and less experienced version of the antagonist we see in the 2017 film. The Killmonger in this seems even more intelligent, though maybe that’s just because he’s more successful.
What’s more is that Micheal B Jordan does bring back his dulcet tones to this episode, which is very welcome. More so than the quite frankly awful impressions of Robert Downey Jr and Gwyneth Paltrow that are annoyingly frequent throughout this episode. Tony Stark is obviously easy to recognise so the voice isn’t as distracting but Pepper Potts is so different to her movie counterpart that it takes someone calling her by name to make you realise who the character is actually meant to be.
Chadwick Boseman is beginning to be the MVP of this series as he keeps popping up in every episode. The official number of episodes that were confirmed to have him was four and we have now seen three of those. This was definitely his best so far. Though he only gets two scenes, the latter one is such a fantastic twist on the events of Black Panther and it’s so satisfying to have it played out by both the original actors.
The episode also shows a different side to a lot of MCU characters and locations that we’ve known and loved for these past years, Rhodey and Wakanda being the most notable examples.
This episode of What If…? has rejuvenated the potential of this show and its concept. It took us down an interesting path that kept diverging further and further from the established canon without betraying the personalities of the characters involved. After a few weeks of quite bad and/or bland episodes, it’s good to see the show at this level again.
What If…? Is streaming on Disney + weekly.