Warning: The following contains SPOILERS for Marvel’s What If…? episode 2.
The second episode of Marvel’s What If…? indicated its version of the Collector defeated several MCU heroes and villains and added their weapons, armor and artifacts to his collection. This was teased through a number of Easter eggs sprinkled throughout the episode and the final battle between Taneleer Tivan and T’Challa.
The episode, titled “What If… T’Challa Became A Star-Lord?,” was set in a reality where the King of Wakanda and current Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) was abducted by the Ravagers as a child instead of Peter Quill. This led to T’Challa taking up the title of Star-Lord and transforming the Ravagers into a group of noble thieves who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor. T’challa’s nobility also led to the redemption of Thanos (Josh Brolin) and Nebula (Karen Gillan), who recruited T’Challa and his team to help her pull a grand heist from the collection of the Collector (Benicio del Toro) and steal the Embers of Genesis.
Apart from a suggestion that this universe was eventually destroyed by Ego, the Living Planet (Kurt Russell), the reality presented in this episode of Marvel’s What If…? seemed to be a better place for most of the people in the universe since Thanos was talked out of his pursuit of the Infinity Gems in this timeline. However, while Yondu (Michael Rooker) may have survived and Nebula had long, silky hair and avoided the torture that defined her life in the Sacred Timeline, there were subtle hints that not everyone was quite as lucky. Here’s a breakdown of every hero and villain who apparently ran afoul of the Collector in What If…? episode 2.
Howard the Duck (Seth Green) just can’t catch a break, no matter what reality he is in. As in the regular MCU, Howard wound up as a permanent guest of the Collector following some unspecified incident, before Star-Lord freed the malcontent mallard and recruited him as a tour guide through the Collector’s storage space. Unfortunately, captivity seemed to suit this version of Howard the Duck just fine, as he abandoned his quest for freedom quickly enough once given access to a bar during Happy Hour, leaving Star-Lord to continue the hunt for the Embers of Genesis without him.
A familiar figure could be seen in one of the display cases behind Howard the Duck when he stopped to get his drink on. It would appear that Groot (Vin Diesel) somehow wound up as part of the décor in the bar contained within the Collector’s abode. There is no indication of whether or not the figure is alive or dead, but it is unsettling to think of the gentle giant being caged in any case.
In the comics, the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) and the Collector are close friends, with the former being as obsessed with games as the latter is with hoarding rarities. The two characters hold similar roles in the MCU, but there was nothing to indicate a relationship between them in any Marvel Studios production. However, in the reality of What If…? episode 2, the Grandmaster’s personal leisure spaceship, The Commodore, is visible among the many spaceships the Collector claimed as trophies, suggesting a falling-out between the two friends.
When the Collector first attacked T’Challa, he armed himself (no pun intended) with a gauntlet of stone that packed quite a punch. Unable to stop himself from bragging about his collection even as he fought, the Collector explained that he had hacked the stone fist off of a “terribly chatty Kronan.” This would seem to be a clear nod to Korg (Taika Waititi) from Thor: Ragnarok and a clear indicator that Korg is no longer among the living, though there is a chance he could still be alive and disarmed.
As the fight continued, the Collector summoned a portable weapons rack, containing a number of interesting instruments of violence. One of the more prominently featured items on this rack was Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir. This begs the question of just how the Collector was able to place Mjölnir on the rack, as only the worthy are supposed to be able to lift the hammer, much less wield it in battle. Then again, anyone who could slay Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and claim Mjölnir as their own would probably qualify as worthy. The shield of Captain America (Chris Evans) was also on display on the same rack, suggesting that this version of the Collector fought the Avengers and won.
After summoning his weapons rack, the Collector armed himself with a dagger forged in dark matter, which he said he personally took from “the ruler of the Dark Elves.” This was a clear reference to the chief villain of Thor: The Dark World, Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), and a sign that this version of the Collector may have fought the Dark Elf king and claimed the Reality Stone for himself in this timeline. However he acquired the dagger, it proved to be powerful enough to crack Korg’s skin.
The rack also contained a stiletto-style dagger resembling the knives favored by Loki, God of Mischief (Tom Hiddleston). As the display panel rotated to reveal another compartment, a golden amulet was revealed to be strung up under Captain America’s shield. While its design is indistinct during the few seconds it is visible, it resembles the Eye of Agamotto wielded by Doctor Strange. Given the Collector’s interest in the Infinity Stones, it seems likely he might have sought out the Sorcerer Supreme to claim the Time Stone and kept what was left of the amulet as a trophy of their battle.
The Collector closed his battle with T’Challa in Marvel’s What If…? by donning a familiar-looking headdress. He boasted to T’Challa that it had once belonged to the Asgardian God of Death, Hela (Cate Blanchett), who had “exquisite taste.” The helmet also allowed him to summon a Necrosword, Hela’s signature weapon that she used to drain the power from her enemies. The Collector proved quite proficient in its use, though he only managed to pin T’Challa with the blade rather than slaying him outright.