Warning! Spoilers ahead for Marvel’s What If…? premiere.
Marvel’s What If…? premiere twist makes Steve Rogers’ Avengers: Endgame worse. After several weeks of hiatus, the MCU is back on the small screen with the debut of its fourth Disney+ series. Unlike its predecessors, however, What If…? is in animated form, with several actors from the films returning to voice their respective characters.
Based on the 1970s What If? comic books, the show with the same title will revisit certain events in the Infinity Saga and imagine one change that can significantly alter the course of the MCU’s history. The project is created by A.C. Bradley for Marvel Studios, with Bryan Andrews serving as its director. Jeffrey Wright is the show’s narrator, playing Uatu/The Watcher. The first episode titled “What If… Captain Carter Were The First Avenger?” visualizes Peggy Carter taking the super-soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers. After a minor commotion that left the original Captain America incapable of going through the transformation, the S.H.I.E.L.D. co-founder volunteered herself for it. The remainder of the What If…? episode follows the Marvel timeline of Captain America: The First Avenger, leading to Peggy being transported to the modern era as a parallel to Steve waking up in the 21st century.
While the events of What If…? don’t have any impact on the main MCU timeline (at least not yet), its premiere episode highlights the biggest problem with Steve’s final fate in Endgame. After returning all the Infinity Stones, the original Star-Spangled Avenger went further back in time to reunite with Peggy. Specifics of this part of Steve’s personal arc have been kept purposefully vague by Marvel Studios, but the idea was that he lived a quiet, retired life with the love of his life before going back to the main MCU timeline to hand off the shield and his superhero mantle of Captain America to Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie). As emotionally satisfying as this was, there are a couple of problems with it. First, it’s questionable that Steve would stand back throughout those years while the world dealt with various problems. But, even though he’s adamant about not meddling and convinced that he’d done his part, it’s difficult to believe that Peggy would just let him do that, especially given how committed she was to doing good as seen in What If…?.
It’s already uncharacteristic of Steve to walk away from the chance to lend a helping hand. But it’s more difficult to believe that he could convince Peggy to dial down her involvement in various S.H.I.E.L.D. activities so they could live a blissfully ignorant life together. As per the ending of Loki, the animated Captain Carter in What If…? could very well just be a variant of Peggy, which means that they essentially share the same core qualities — including their passion to do good. So, it might be near implausible to imagine Steve stopping his supposed wife on her personal endeavors. Even if Peggy continued her job with S.H.I.E.L.D., that could lead to her husband ultimately coming out of retirement to help her through her dangerous missions. While Steve could have opted to focus on his personal wants and turn a blind eye to the horrible things happening around him, he surely couldn’t let Peggy risk her life alone for a cause that she fervently believes in.
At this point, it’s uncertain if Marvel Studios have plans to address the lingering questions surrounding Steve’s final Avengers: Endgame fate. The fact that that the Russo Brothers and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have contradicting opinions on the matter indicates that there’s no canon answer to these queries. But one thing is for sure: it will continue to be a favorite topic of conversation until something official is released about it.
Marvel’s What If…? releases new episodes Wednesdays on Disney+.