Marvel's "What If... T'Challa Became a Star-Lord?" Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Marvel's "What If... T'Challa Became a Star-Lord?" Review

Alexander Wallace is hooked on a feeling.
I, like many others, was deeply saddened by the death of Chadwick Boseman in 2020. He brought Black Panther to life, in addition to many other roles (I quite liked him in Marshall and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom). The internet was understandably overjoyed when they learned that additional material from him was being released. Such was the second episode of Marvel’s What If…? It is an episode that asks an odd but interesting question: what if T’Challa became Star-Lord?

The driving force behind this episode is doubtlessly Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa. The episode plays deftly with our expectations for both T’Challa and Star-Lord. T’Challa, the Black Panther, the King of Wakanda, is regal. He is composed, collected, and cool. This is in contrast to Chris Pratt as Peter Quill’s Star-Lord, a wise-cracking, laid-back, chill man ripped straight from the 1980s and awash in its neon glow. They are two very different characters.

It is, then, interesting to see how, in this counterfactual scenario, T’Challa bounces back and forth between the two. He can certainly crack jokes and provide snark, but he does so in a way that is far more reserved than Peter Quill ever did. He’s cool, as I said, and that includes the calm and the collectedness that the real Star-Lord is too bubbly to really bring to the table. It makes for a very interesting change in the character to one that has a reservedness but also the ability to have fun from time to time.

Unfortunately, the story is relatively generic otherwise. Most of the other characters act more or less as they did in the films. The one exception to this is Thanos, a role reprised by Josh Brolin, who is persuaded by T’Challa to take up a life of crime instead of mass murder. There is a very real tension between how we know him from the movies and how we see him in the episode, and it ends up being greatly amusing. Thanos here is a mad titan given much smaller stakes than he got to in the main MCU timeline, and he comes off as a fish out of water in an entertaining way.

Ultimately, I found this episode to be entertaining but generic. The animation is good, the combat is good, and the environments of the space-faring parts of the MCU were rendered faithfully and vividly. It’s worth watching, but I have found that there are much better episodes to be seen. More articles on the series are on the way.

Alexander Wallace is an alternate historian, reader, and writer who moderates the Alternate History Online group on Facebook and the Alternate Timelines Forum on Proboards. He writes regularly for the Sea Lion Press blog and for NeverWas magazine, and also appears regularly on the Alternate History Show with Ben Kearns. He is a member of several alternate history fora under the name 'SpanishSpy.'

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