After the season finale of Loki blew up the MCU's Sacred Timeline in order to introduce us to the multiverse, Marvel's new Disney+ series What If. . .? explores how a single choice can turn the reality we knew on its head.
Based on the long-running comic series and narrated by Uatu the Watcher (Jeffrey Wright, who's doing comic-double duty as Commissioner Gordon in 2022's The Batman), each episode of this animated anthology series explores an event in the MCU from an alternate universe where the characters we know and love are forced into new circumstances and their actions change the course of history. Check out the recaps for episodes 1-5 here.
Episode 6: Killmonger to the rescue?
If there was any flaw with 2018's Black Panther, it was that Michael B. Jordan's instantly iconic villain Killmonger was dead at the end of it. Since the MCU has long had a lack of compelling villains, Killmonger was one of the few whose complexity begged for more screen time. We finally get more of Killmonger in the sixth episode of What If…? which asks the question of what would happen to Tony Stark if he was saved by him in Afghanistan at the start of 2008's Iron Man. Not only would Iron Man not exist but it would change the history of Wakanda forever.
It's in Killmonger's capacity as a Navy Seal that winds up saving Tony Stark (Mick Wingert) once he comes under attack but being saved from injury sets Tony off onto an entirely different trajectory than the one of personal heroism and sacrifice that culminated with him saving the world from Thanos in Avengers: Endgame. Without the life-threatening injury caused by his own weapons, Tony doesn't realize the error of his ways with Stark Industries and Killmonger uses Tony's genius to further his own revenge against Wakanda through the creation of a vibranium-powered, anime-influenced drone. Pepper Potts (Beth Hoyt) remains suspicious but there isn't much she can do while Tony is fully enamored with his new military buddy.
Through a series of double-crosses in order to obtain enough vibranium to power his drones, Killmonger kills T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman), Rhodey (Don Cheadle), and eventually Tony himself while engineering the United States into a war with Wakanda. After Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) gets him to Wakanda's border, Killmonger kills Klaue and uses him as a peace offering to get an audience with the still living T'Chaka (John Kani). T'Chaka recognizes the eyes of his brother in his nephew and since T'Challa is dead (and seeing his coffin here is just a brief glimpse of what 2022's Wakanda Forever might bring), Killmonger is in the perfect place to assume the role of Black Panther. His position is almost assured after he helps defeat his own drones in a dynamic battle alongside Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), Okoye (Danai Gurira) and the rest of the Wakanda army.
As he goes through the ceremony to become the next Black Panther, Killmonger has achieved everything he wanted but on the ancestral plane, the spirit of T'Challa warns him that "Power, unearned, can be a very volatile force, cousin. It'll get the best of you, eventually. On your plane, or on ours."
While the United States military prepares to attack Wakanda, Pepper gets confirmation that Killmonger killed Tony in a surprise visit from a young but still brilliant Shuri (Ozioma Akagha), who knows that this new Black Panther also killed her brother. As the Watcher notes from above, "Heroes are never really gone. They live forever. As do the ones they inspire to carry on the fight." So it's up to Pepper and Shuri to stop this war and Killmonger's mad grab for power along with it.
Video courtesy of Disney +.