Chadwick Boseman's bright star continues to shine after his tragic death. What If...? releases a fantastic second episode that's a substantive improvement over the premiere. The Watcher (Jeffrey Wright) explores an alternate timeline where Yondu Udonta's (Michael Rooker) goofball Ravagers accidentally kidnap a young T'Challa instead of Peter Quill. The result is a much different Star-Lord that radically changes the MCU's fate for the better. Episode two is very funny and creative. It's a fitting last performance from a beloved and iconic actor.
What If...? continues with a young T'Challa staring at the stars with his father in Wakanda. He's mesmerized by the night sky as "Baba", aka King T'Chaka, explains why they've isolated themselves from the outside world. Years later, a familiar scene plays out on the planet Morag as Korath the Pursuer (Djimon Hounsou) and his men attempt to stop T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) from taking the hidden Power Stone. But this time around, Korath is awestruck by being in the mere presence of Star-Lord. The "Robin Hood of the Galaxy" has rockstar status and is a hero to billions.
We find out that Kraglin (Sean Gunn) and Taserface (Chris Sullivan), in a stroke of epic stupidity, kidnapped the wrong kid from Earth. But young T'Challa was not terrified of the Ravagers. The son of a king and a natural leader transforms the Ravagers. His profound impact on Yondu was just the beginning of many surprising reversals. T'Challa's Ravagers have new members and allies that will stun fans. He's also on a mission against a powerful adversary to ease the suffering on countless planets. But King T'Chaka and the Dora Milaje have never stopped searching for their missing prince. Which leads T'Challa to a stark decision between two families. Should he stay among the stars or return to his long lost home?
The tone of the episode shows the range of possibilities. It's loaded with the requisite action scenes, but upbeat and humorous throughout. Characters we've come to hate as villains, or burdened by their cruel choices, are completely different here. T'Challa's charisma has everyone united under his banner for the greater good. The "Guardians" we know as a group of misfit heroes pop up in hilarious cameos. Drax (Dave Bautista) especially will have you laughing out loud.
Episode two is thankfully not just a Guardians of the Galaxy rehash. The story goes in several unexpected directions, but cleverly nods and winks to major events in the current MCU. There's also quite a bit of detail in the breezy half hour runtime. Every literal minute has consequence to the narrative.
It's important to state that the episode doesn't mock or belittle Peter Quill. He makes an important appearance, but the whole point is T'Challa's turn as Star-Lord. His version of the character is akin to the coolest kid in school. All the girls want to meet him. All the guys want to be him. T'Challa uses his strong upbringing to bring positive change. Fans are going to really enjoy seeing Chadwick Boseman again. It's a voiceover role that embodies the actor's titanic screen presence. He will certainly be missed, but ends on an animated high note. What...If? is produced by Marvel Studios and Flying Bark Productions. New episodes premiere every Wednesday exclusively on Disney+.