The following article incorporates spoilers for the What If…? sequence.
The total premise behind the What If…? comedian books is one thing that at instances appears virtually taken straight out of fan fiction, placing Marvel’s well-known heroes in twisted, unlikely, and but completely believable situations, thus resulting in the creation of various heroes, but in addition new villains as properly.
On the face of it, the concept results in some slightly humorous conditions like Yondu’s henchmen taking T’Challa as an alternative of Peter Quill to turn into Star-Lord, nevertheless, different tales like this week’s Doctor Strange episode have a far darker tone to them. This shouldn’t be too shocking for MCU followers conversant in Marvel Comics lore, as a result of the What If…? series really tends to characteristic largely dangerous endings or outcomes for which writers don’t have to stay with the same old superhero trope nor any of that hero’s journey archetype.
What is most attention-grabbing is considering of how skinny the road is between heroism and outright villainy or, at the perfect, an extremely misguided use of energy (Uncle Ben’s classes on duty nonetheless maintain as much as today). For instance, within the first Iron Man film, Tony Stark is confronted with the unhappy actuality that his innovations and weaponry had been getting used for the worst objective potential, so it actually isn’t that arduous to think about Stark turning into extra like Justin Hammer sooner or later with the correct mix of nexus occasions.
For Disney Plus’ What If…? animated sequence, Iron Man will star in one among its most attention-grabbing modifications of coronary heart, having Erik Killmonger turn into Black Panther. Michael B. Jordan’s efficiency as Killmonger immediately made him one of many MCU’s finest villains and a part of the explanation why is that, at its coronary heart, what drives him to battle and antagonize his cousin T’Challa are considerably relatable motives and targets, even when carried out in a reprehensible approach.
MCU Killmonger is an orphaned baby who grew up seeing the hardships individuals like him had been subjected to, whereas his Wakandan blood family loved a life stuffed with prosperity and innovation. It’s exactly this worldview and going through the ache of his family that ultimately drives T’Challa in direction of opening up Wakanda to the remainder of the world in Black Panther, removing lots of of years of custom.
Killmonger and the darkish Doctor Strange Supreme are proof that nobody is inherently good or dangerous, however as an alternative that their character is strengthened or led to sure targets relying on the circumstances surrounding them. The Darker Doctor Strange who needs to save lots of his beloved Christine isn’t as a lot a villain as he’s amoral, he merely does away from the teachings of the Ancient One and Obeng’s recommendation out of his personal vanity resulting in suppose he’s above the naturals legal guidelines that govern Marvel’s Multiverse.
Thanos’s case is probably much more attention-grabbing because the purple titan retains all of his genocidal theories and impulses, but out of the character of merely encountering T’Challa Star-Lord (and probably a unique childhood), he chooses to stay a traditional life as an area bounty hunter with Yondu’s ravagers. When Avengers: Infinity War was launched, numerous articles had been written about Thanos’s comparatively rational worries about useful resource insufficiency, overpopulation, and struggling, all of that are -to some extent- real-life issues people should take care of.
This wavering characterization is just not even unique to What If…?, as WandaImaginative and prescient and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier additionally showcased how the actions and experiences of super-powered people can result in having a foggy imaginative and prescient of what is proper or not. In the Scarlet Witch’s case, her depressive state and deep grief brought about her to be turn into a risk to nationwide safety and that of many universes even when she wasn’t conscious of it, a plot system that could possibly be reused in Doctor Strange within the Multiverse of Madness if Wanda Maximoff turned out to be a villain.
As for former Captain America turned U.S. Agent John Walker, the trail is kind of comparable. An exemplary and upstanding particular person for his total life, a real American hero who solely wished to observe the steps of Steve Rogers, finally ends up turning into an antihero attributable to his lack of ability to deal with the trauma that his personal heroic path gave him.
The solely one who would seem like exempt from any sort of interior ethical debates with himself can be Steve Rogers, who even with none superpowers is virtuous sufficient to battle facet by facet along with his sweetheart Captain Carter. Of course, as What If…?’s trailers have proven, even then there’s nonetheless the choice of triggering a zombie apocalypse clause on Rogers as a definitive approach to flip Cap into an evil being.
Marvel’s finest villains have constantly confirmed to be these that aren’t evil for the sake of being evil, however these with many layers of complexity to their character and selections, and it’s exactly that composition that enables for any of its heroes to be instilled with sufficient experiences to trigger them to show to the darkish facet. Remarkable individuals certainly they’re, however What If…? -just just like the Snyder Cut’s Knightmare Superman- is the right approach to present that any of Marvel’s most interesting can crack if one thing goes terribly mistaken.