The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a tangled web of timelines and stories. If it works as a fully functioning universe then many characters were ready to interact well before they actually made their debut. This has been toyed with a bit in the What If…? stories but not really acted upon until this week’s episode. Starting at the very beginning of the MCU debut our story diverges right at the moment when audiences first met Tony Stark. Only this time instead of getting captured and becoming Iron Man he gets saved by Killmonger and goes on a wildly different path.
Stuff like this is fascinating and truly makes use of the storytelling medium. Not only did this week’s episode tackle an alternate Tony Stark (not voiced by Robert Downey Jr. but a damn good voice actor that had me fooled) but also quite a bit of Black Panther lore as well.
The merging of the two happens pretty seamlessly too. It’s not that crazy to think that Killmonger might have been around Afghanistan about the same time Tony was selling his Jericho missiles. He was probably only a few hundred miles away at the time of his capture. By taking advantage of that fact it is easy to shape a new reality.
There’s a ton of fun easter eggs in this episode too including a nice homage to Michael B. Jordan’s love of anime and manga. What’s even weirder is having Jon Favreau reprise his role as Happy Hogan once again in a show that twists his original movie (he also directed the first Iron Man laying the groundwork for the entire MCU, for those that don’t know). What If…? has given Favreau a lot of great material and I’m happy to see him on board with the whole endeavor just having fun.
This is the third episode of What If…? that doesn’t have a definitive end. We’re about halfway through the season and it seems like the show is laying the groundwork for something bigger, it will be interesting to see where that goes.