Killmonger Plays the Entire MCU in New “What If”
Marvel What If…? Episode 6 Review
Who’s the best villain in the MCU? Given how most of the MCU baddies are forgettable, there are only three real choices right now: Thanos, most versions of Loki, and Erik Killmonger. Erik Killmonger may not be a demi-god like Loki or a universe-altering warlord like Thanos, but he’s still one of the best villains in the franchise. His backstory elicits sympathy. His motives, while violent, are understandable given what he went through. And though he lost, he ended up changing the Black Panther’s view on the world. So, when I saw that Killmonger would be coming back for Marvel What if…?, I was excited to see how things would turn out for him in this part of the Multiverse.
Having seen the episode, though, I am…a little let down.
What If…Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?
In the latest alteration to the MCU timeline, the fateful attempt of the Ten Rings to capture or kill Tony Stark fails, thanks to the intervention of Erik Killmonger. According to him, he was in deep cover with the Ten Rings when he got word about the attack, and thus saves Tony from the events that make him Iron Man. Then, to further ingratiate himself (and show just how far above he is over most of the MCU villains), he ousts Stane as the mastermind behind the attack.
That is only step one of Killmonger’s master plan. From here, he orchestrates a Machiavellian chess game that would make Littlefinger and Tywin Lannister jealous. Firstly, he talks Tony into building mini Gundam drones (he likes anime, just like his actor). Then, he offs both Rhodey and T’Challa and frames both sides for the other’s deaths. Tony follows suit, along with Klaw (Andy Serkis was great as him), and uses it to get himself into Wakanda where he “heroically” saves the day from the drones he helped to create.
On the one hand, this just hammers home how dangerous Killmonger really was, rivaling even Loki in terms of manipulation. On the other hand, it feels like they wasted him this time around.
What the What If…? Should’ve Been
When I first saw the teaser for this episode, I hoped that things would take a far different turn than what they did. Saving Tony Stark could’ve been Killmonger’s start to a better life, one where he could actually do some good for the world. He could’ve turned his back on his violent past, become a better person, and become the Prince he could’ve been if T’Chaka hadn’t left him behind. If he did that, then he could’ve entered Wakanda under much happier circumstances.
Instead, they wasted one of the MCU’s best villains just to hammer home how dangerous he really is by playing everyone like a fiddle. Almost everyone, really; Pepper and Shuri team up at the end to stop his plans for good; that seems like even more of a cop-out than it did when Hank Pym killed the Avengers. Even the Watcher disapproved of how things turned out.
The Watcher May Not Watch for Much Longer
Speaking of the Watcher, this episode dropped a subtle, yet important, clue about his role as the show continues. When we started out, we never saw the Watcher; only his silhouette. Then, we saw him cloaked in shadow. The story with Dr. Strange had him directly interact with events in the show. And this week, we see him in full view as he watches everything with disgust.
Those who read the comics will know the Watcher’s history, and that despite his oath to not interfere, he ends up breaking it many times for the greater good. My guess is that as these alternate timelines in the MCU continue to grow worse, it gets to the point where the Watcher says “Screw it. I need to fix this mess!”
I would not blame it. There’s a time to observe and a time to take action. And something tells me the Watcher will take action soon. Until then, Disney should go back and use an alternate Killmonger better.
They did, however, hit home with this scene of T’Challa’s funeral.
I Give “What If…Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?” a 2/5
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