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What If…? Starts a Cautious First Look at MCU Multiverse

Marvel What If...? Episode 1-Captain Carter

Marvel What-If Episode 1 Review

What if? That may be one of the most important questions in the history of mankind. It opens up an infinite realm of new possibilities. What if Hitler became a successful painter rather than the monster history knew him as? What if we learned we weren’t alone in the universe? Or what if COVID-19 never happened? This question has helped drive mankind to innovate, explore, and create for untold eons. And it also happens to be one of the best tools for any storyteller.

The other great tool of any storyteller is, fittingly, the multiverse theory. The idea of an infinitely expanding number of universes lends itself perfectly to this. And the MCU looks ready to capitalize on the concept that’s been present in Marvel Comics for decades. With the end of the first season of Loki throwing the gates to the Multiverse wide open, fans of the MCU get their first glimpse into these new realities with the new animated series “What If…?” For its first outing, we get a fun, but relatively safe, story involving Peggy Carter.

What If… Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?

As we all know, in the main MCU, Steve Rogers was the one who got the super soldier serum, becoming Captain America and going on to help save the universe. However, in this story, things happen differently. A decision by Peggy Carter to stay in the room to watch the procedure leads to the HYDRA spy setting off his bombs far earlier. As a result, Erskine and Colonel Phillips die and Rogers is too injured to undergo the procedure. In that moment, Peggy makes the decision to use the serum on herself, becoming a super-soldier in Steve’s place.

From that point on, the episode tells an alternate, accelerated version of the events of Captain America: The First Avenger. Despite never having to take part in USO shows, Carter faces much of the same hurdles that Steve overcame in the film. Possibly more so due to her status as a strong woman living a very sexist period of time. This doesn’t change much of Peggy’s personality, though. Rather, her newfound strength means that if she wants to do something, now no one can stop her. And once she becomes Captain Carter, she has the time of her life!

Steve Rogers, Hydra Stomper

What was probably most unexpected, but not unwelcome, was what they did with Steve Rogers. While circumstances mean he can’t become Captain America, he becomes a hero in his own way. Thanks to changes to the timeline, Howard Stark manages to build a armored suit much like Tony would have decades later, giving Steve the chance to pilot it into combat.

I have to admit, I never expected to enjoy being able to see Steve Rogers pilot a giant, Iron-Man-esque suit, but once I saw him in battle, it was awesome. And while Steve does end up going MIA in battle, unlike Bucky, he isn’t turned into a ruthless assassin. Unfortunately, fate once again conspires to keep the two apart. Only this time, it’s because Peggy gets stuck fighting a giant, Cthulu-esque monster in another dimension. When she comes back, it’s been 70 years.

A Safe, but Good, Start

Considering just what they could have started off, the first episode of “What If…?” is relatively tame with very few surprises. Roles were reversed and key details altered, but otherwise, this first “what if?” follows the events of the main MCU. However, this is less from lack of creativity and more that Marvel wants to ease us into the realm of possibility. As the series continues, the stories will likely deviate more and more from the films.

As for Captain Carter, I thoroughly enjoyed her character. She’s strong, tough, and just an absolute joy to watch on screen. In addition, the ending to her story leaves us open to seeing more of her in the future. If we somehow get a multiverse-spanning team of Avengers, I hope to see Captain Carter as part of it.

I Give ” hat If… Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?” a 4/5

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