Serial Consumer celebrates and interrogates Evan’s relationship to franchised media and his addiction to purchasing its licensed products.

What If Yondu had kidnapped T’Challa?

The second episode of What If…? starts with a premise I thought would be incredibly stupid: What if Yondu had kidnapped T’Challa (voiced by the late Chadwick Boseman) rather than Peter Quill and the former had become Star-Lord? The character-swap dynamic seemed redundant coming directly off the Peggy / Steve swap in Episode 1. Turns out I was wrong. This swap fundamentally changes the Marvel Universe in an impressive way that underscores what makes T’Challa such a special character and inadvertently acknowledges what makes Peter such an annoying protagonist in each of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies.

T’Challa is a fundamentally good man whose goodness is radiant. In this universe, Star-Lord is a Robin Hood, who has inspired the Ravagers to do the same. Even a certain Mad Titan changes his ways thanks to an empathetic talking-to (although he still insists his plan would have worked). When (a much happier version of) Nebula approaches T’Challa with a heist that could make the world better, the hero and his friends have no choice but to accept. But when the heist leads to T’Challa learning about a lie told to him by Yondu, he has to come face to face with what family means and whether his destiny belongs in the stars.

The key to this episode is that the character change is used to explore in greater depth the make-up of T’Challa, whose mainline MCU counterpart overcame rage and pain to become a better man and, eventually, a better leader. This version of T’Challa is more self-actualized from the jump and must face the burden of leadership in a different way. It’s fundamentally the same T’Challa, and the writers do a great job of presenting different conflicts without making him unrecognizable.

One of the problems with James Gunn’s Guardians movies is that Peter is an angry little boy; that’s also one of the series’ strengths, but, as time goes on, I feel it makes him less empathetic. This What If…? episode postulates that a better man would’ve been able to make the universe a better place. It doesn’t detract from Guardians one bit. It only emphasizes the way Peter’s flaws affected everyone around him in the main movies. It makes both Black Panther and the Guardians films more interesting.

Plus there’s an amazing remix of the Black Panther and Guardians musical themes here that just soars.

What I Bought

Got a sweet clearance Wolverine figure as well as the new Loki figure, with his cool Time Variance Authority costume.

What I’d Buy

Unfortunately, I don’t like the design of the Marvel Legends T’Challa Star-Lord figure or the Heist Nebula, although I would buy both at a clearance price if I found them. The figure I really want from this episode is Ravager Thanos, who has given up genocide in favor of gardening. What an amazing twist.