Return of The King. What if…T’Challa Became Star-Lord?
Marvel What If…? Episode 2 Review
Like so many others, I was left stunned by Chadwick Boseman’s sudden passing last year. The fact that he spent his entire time as T’Challa fighting cancer, and letting almost one know about it, serves as a testament to that man’s will. He knew how important T’Challa was, and he tried to see it through to the end. And while we will likely not see T’Challa again in the main MCU, Marvel What if…? offers a chance to see Chadwick have one last hurrah as the iconic character.
Since his passing makes it very hard not to have a bias regarding his episode of What if…?, I won’t bother hiding it. This series will posthumously include Chadwick in at least four episodes, each with a different version of the character. As of now, though, I think this was my favorite, as well as my favorite episode of the show.
What If… T’Challa Became A Star Lord
Whereas the first episode of What if…? started out with a relatively safe story, the second episode goes all in, showing us just how crazy these stories can, and will, be.
In the main MCU, Peter Quill was abducted by Yondu, who got hired to take him to his Dad. However, here he had Kraglin and Taserface do it instead. They grab T’Challa by accident, and Yondu decides to just keep him around.
Flashforward two decades, and T’Challa’s become Star-Lord. And unlike Peter, he’s every bit as legendary as Peter wanted people to believe. He doesn’t just steal from others: he takes the wealth of the powerful and gives it to those who can’t help themselves. In other words, he’s an intergalactic Robin Hood with admirers across the universe.
T’Challa at His Most Free
Given how serious and responsible T’Challa is in the MCU, one would think that What If…? took some liberties with this version’s personality. However, once the show gets a few minutes in, you’ll see that Chadwick’s playing T’Challa as essentially the same person from the MCU. The difference here is that this T’Challa does not have the burden of the Black Panther to weigh on him.
The T’Challa we get in this episode is light-hearted, charismatic, and free-spirited with an insatiable curiosity to explore the universe. He loves being Star Lord. However, at his core, he’s still the same noble and just person who fights injustice. When he steals, he does it to help people, and a lot of characters are in a better place than when we found them in the MCU. Drax never lost his family and is a happy bartender. Yondu and his Ravagers now help people through their thieving activities. Thanos works alongside them.
This Version of Thanos is a Hero
Yes, you read that right: Thanos is not only a hero, he works alongside T’Challa and the Ravagers. Apparently, T’Challa reached out to him and made him realize that his plan to use the Infinity Stones wasn’t the right answer. Now he focuses on gardening and trying to atone for what he did to Nebula (who flirtatiously calls T’Challa “Cha Cha”.)
Seeing the man who served as the overarching villain for the MCU fighting as a good guy may seem unsettling to some. However, his prescence serves a purpose in the show’s narrative. Infinite number of universes means infinite versions of a character. And some of them can turn out to be heroes instead of villains. Or villains instead of heroes. The possibilities are infinite.
Farewell to Chadwick Boseman
This episode won’t be the last time that we see T’Challa in Marvel What if…? There will be at least three other versions of him in future episodes. However, for all intents and purposes, this episode serves as a send-off to the character, and to Chadwick Boseman.
Looking back, I honestly cannot imagine anyone other than Chadwick playing the role of the Black Panther. He brought the perfect amount of charisma, inspiration, and physical prowess that the character needed. There may not be another actor like him for a long, long time. So, while we say goodbye to Chadwick as T’Challa, let’s remember the impact he had on the world. And this episode’s essentially a love letter to everything he did to bring the Black Panther to life.
I Give “What If… T’Challa Became a Star-Lord?” A 5/5
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