Warning: This article contains spoilers for Marvel’s What If…? episode two.
T’Challa becomes Star-Lord in Marvel’s What If…?, and he’s vastly different from Peter Quill’s version of the character. In What If…? episode 2, the Ravagers mistakenly kidnap T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) from Earth instead of Peter Quill (voiced by Brian T. Delaney). The change has vast repercussions. First, T’Challa changes the Ravagers’ ways, turning the crime syndicate into a group that spreads goodwill throughout the galaxy. Additionally, Thanos (Josh Brolin) gives up his genocidal plans of eliminating half of all life, realizing that there are other ways to allocate resources.
What If…? episode 2 also completely negates the events of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. In the films, Quill (Chris Pratt) takes on the role of Star-Lord after the Ravagers abduct him. He then unites with friends to form the Guardians of the Galaxy and stop Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) from killing millions. The Guardians also stop Quill’s Celestial dad, Ego (Kurt Russell), from destroying the universe and recreating it in his image. However, that all becomes irrelevant in What If…?. Instead, Quill is left on Earth and works at a Dairy Queen when Ego finds him, hoping to use his son’s Celestial power to carry out his universe-ending plan.
There are vast differences between the powers for T’Challa’s Star-Lord and Quill’s Star-Lord. When T’Challa is Star-Lord, the character becomes a hero in the galaxy. He uses his reason and influence to reform Thanos, bringing him to the Ravagers’ side; he turns the Ravagers into the Robin Hoods of the MCU; and he inspires others to make the galaxy a better place. Quill, on the other hand, first became an outlaw as Star-Lord. However, because of his Celestial heritage, Quill briefly holds an Infinity Stone to stop Ronan. His connection to Ego is also why the Guardians of the Galaxy are around to stop the Celestial’s plan to take over the universe.
T’Challa’s Star-Lord has clear advantages over Quill’s. Because of T’Challa, trillions of lives are potentially saved from Thanos’ deadly finger snap. His influence and virtue reform even the worst of characters. Also, transforming the Ravagers into an organization that helps the less fortunate is no small task. Meanwhile, Quill’s Star-Lord is part of the reason Thanos was able to carry out his mission to eliminate half of all life in the first place. Because his emotions get the better of him after hearing of Gamora’s (Zoe Saldana) death, Quill lashes out at Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. This allows the Mad Titan to escape from the Avengers and carry out his plan.
Despite T’Challa’s advantages, the MCU is perhaps better off with Quill as Star-Lord. In the timeline where T’Challa is Star-Lord, the Collector (Benicio del Toro) has numerous trophies, including Captain America’s shield and Thor’s hammer, perhaps hinting that those characters are dead. Additionally, the episode sets up an even worse MCU disaster with Ego destroying the universe. While Star-Lord seemingly allows Thanos to carry out his plot in Infinity War, the scheme is reversed in Avengers: Endgame. As powerful as T’Challa’s Star-Lord seems, Quill may still be the best choice for the MCU.
Marvel’s What If…? releases new episodes Wednesdays on Disney+.