Warning! SPOILERS Marvel’s What If…? episode 2, “What If…T’Challa Became A Star-Lord?”
A new piece of What If…? art imagines Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa as the live-action Star-Lord in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Inspired by the comics of the same name, the Disney+ animated series from Marvel Studios ponders the question, what if the MCU had worked out differently? The first episode of What If…? turned Captain America: The First Avenger on its head by having Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) take the Super Soldier Serum instead of Steve Rogers. The second episode saw Guardians of the Galaxy’s Yondu outsource his assignment to abduct Peter Quill to his subordinates, who mistakenly lift Black Panther’s T’Challa from the fields of Wakanda.
Episode 2, “What If… T’Challa Became a Star-Lord?” began similarly to Guardians of the Galaxy, with its titular protagonist stealing the Orb from Morag before being confronted by Korath the Pursuer (Djimon Hounsou). However, unlike Quill’s original Star-Lord, Korath is a huge fan of T’Challa’s version of the legendary outlaw. 20 years after being taken into space, T’Challa has had a profound influence on the galaxy, turning the Ravagers into Robin Hood-like figures and even convincing Thanos that there were better ways to reallocate the universe’s resources than mass genocide. The light-hearted episode paid tribute to Chadwick Boseman, who passed away in 2020 after a four-year battle with colon cancer, and his iconic performance as T’Challa/Black Panther. When What If…? faded to black this week, the screen read, “Dedicated to our friend, our inspiration, and our hero, Chadwick Boseman.”
Digital artist Sweenystarlord recently posted some art to Instagram paying tribute to one of Boseman’s final performances. The piece, inspired by What If…?, imagines Boseman as a live-action Star-Lord. It provides an incredibly realistic depiction of what T’Challa would look like as the intergalactic hero. Check it out below.
What If…? executive producer, Brad Winderbaum, revealed that Boseman voiced different versions of T’Challa in four episodes of the series’ first season. However, episode 2 will be the only one in which the character will be front and center in the narrative. Those involved with the series have said that Boseman was one of the first actors to sign on to voice his character, jumping at the opportunity to play T’Challa as much as possible.
It has been teased that What If…? will have an overarching narrative that ties into the live-action films outside of its anthology format. The series is narrated by Uatu the Watcher (Jeffrey Wright), a seemingly impartial being who may have a hard time staying neutral. Promotional material for the series has shown what appears to be the Guardians of the Multiverse, lead by Captain Carter and T’Challa’s Star-Lord, and featuring Uatu. Sadly, T’Challa’s live-action Star-Lord will never come to fruition, but the animated character may return in What If…? season 1. However, his alternate version of Star-Lord has already had consequences, leaving Ego (Kurt Russell) unchecked without Peter Quill to step in. According to the Watcher, this “might spell the end of the world,” but viewers will have to stay tuned to find out.