Marvel’s What If…?: What If…T’Challa Became a Star Lord? (Episode 2) Review
*This Review Contains Full Spoilers*
On this week’s episode of Marvel’s What If…?, we get to see the King of Wakanda become the leader of the Ravagers in a multiverse heist caper that sees T-Challa, voiced by the late Chadwick Boseman in his final role, taking on a new role as Star Lord.
Hopefully for the rest of the season, there aren’t too many more episodes that are basically “what if this person was actually this person.” It’s not that it’s not entertaining or interesting to see Peggy Carter become her own “Captain” persona or T’Challa be someone other than Black Panther, but these kinds of stories just don’t show the series’ full potential. They offer a different vision of the characters and lore but aren’t as ambitious as other What If…? stories that this series could be touching on. It’s a little boring to get two of these stories in a row and hopefully the series touches on more of its weird and wild potential sooner rather than later. However, that doesn’t mean “What if…T’Challa Became a Star Lord” isn’t a great improvement from the premiere.
While the overall concept of the story is pretty much the same as the premiere as we see T’Challa grow up to be Star Lord after Yondu (voiced by Michael Rooker) and his crew of Ravagers accidentally snatch him up and make him a part of their crew, there are a lot of changes that come with T’Challa being Star Lord over Peter Quill (voiced by Brian T. Delaney). With Quill’s more rebellious and hardheaded attitude being replaced by T’Challa’s more diplomatic and peace-oriented way of handling things, people actually like Star Lord. I know, it’s actually pretty crazy considering how we’ve Star Lord and the Guardians be pegged as chaotic outlaws in the films, but with T’Challa, people actually respect him. It’s pretty hilarious to watch the opening scene from the first Guardians film go in an entirely different direction with Korath (voiced by Djimon Hounsou) fanning out the second he sees him, a joke that is a little overdone in this episode.
Before T’Challa, the Ravagers were just a group of criminal mercs, but his influence changed them to be a force for good and even changed the mentality of a particular Mad Titan. That’s right, even Thanos (voiced by Josh Brolin) gives up his plans to cut the universe in half and although he still fancies the idea, he’s actually a part of the Ravagers now because of T’Challa convincing him otherwise. Anyone who believed that Quill is the worst for his actions in Infinity War will find the evidence they need to prove that the world would be a more peaceful place without him right in this episode. It’s legitimately crazy to see the whole atmosphere of the Guardians world be changed by simply having T’Challa there instead of Quill and even the relationship between Thanos and Nebula (voiced by Karen Gillan) is greatly improved.
The ramifications of T’Challa’s influence are immense and a great reflection of his character. Even as he’s placed in the violent world of the intergalactic criminal underworld, T’Challa tries to find a more peaceful way to resolve things – something that stems from his short time in Wakanda. With his father barring him from the outside world because of constant wars, T’Challa has had this innate desire for peace since he was young and it’s great how he uses this belief to bring his two worlds together. It’s an excellent culmination of T’Challa’s character and the writing and voice acting here is much stronger. There’s just a greater synergy between the writing and performances and hearing Boseman’s voice one last time, especially in this role, is really something that can’t be missed. All the perfect pieces come together to deliver a unique T’Challa story and it’s amazing that Boseman was able to go on one last ride.
Also, it’s just a really fun episode that sees The Collector (voiced by Benicio Del Toro) in a more villainous role as T’Challa and the Ravagers look to steal a celestial seed that could end hunger across the universe. The Collector has been an under-valued character within the MCU, but that’s far from the case here. All his villainous charm and vast collection of familiar MCU weapons and captors excellently come through and Del Toro’s voice acting energy is a lot of fun. We even get to see more Howard The Duck (voiced by Seth Green) than ever before and that’s always a treat. It’s a quick caper full of enjoyable action that shows some usually villainous characters in a more heroic light, fun character moments that tighten some of the new bonds built, and some slick animation. It’s a Guardian’s styled heist full of heroics and betrayal with T’Challa leading the charge, what more could anyone ask for. There’s even a possible tease at the end of another story in the works where Ego (voiced by Kurt Russell) goes to an average living Quill and hopefully that comes to fruition in the future.
There’s still a lot more potential for What If…? to tap into to create more ambitious storylines but seeing T’Challa become Star Lord offers plenty of great moments. Boseman’s final performance as T’Challa is incredible as it’s accompanied by a story that evokes the impact of the character and sticks him in the middle of a fun and action-packed Guardians-styled heist.