The Best MCU What If Questions They Should Have Asked

Marvel's What If...? has asked a myriad of hypothetical questions concerning key events within the MCU, but there are more they should have asked, and here are the best ones. As Uatu the Watcher's narration in the intro title sequence puts it, the premise of the show can introduce a realm of "endless possibility." Part of the fun of the show's concept is that there's no shortage of ideas for alternate universes and diverging timelines, meaning there are far more What If...? questions than the current season offers.

The What If...? comic books provide an almost equally endless source of inspiration for these one-off stories. While not all of the characters involved in the original comics are included in the MCU (yet), like the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, some of these speculative ideas have influenced the main MCU universe. Titles like "What if the Hulk had the brain of Bruce Banner?" and "What if Jane Foster had found the hammer of Thor?" are concepts that the MCU has adapted or will soon cover in future installments, so it's not a stretch to retrofit the source material to fall more in line with Marvel's films and tv shows.

Related: What If’s Iron Man Murder Made The MCU’s War Machine Treatment Even Worse

The incredibly open-ended concept of What If...? means that anyone can imagine a unique episode. The following ideas represent where What If...? could go based on both pre-existing comic stories and major plot points within the MCU. They are by no means the only questions the TV series could cover, but they are some of the juicier missed opportunities, at least in season 1.

Iron Man and Doctor Strange have already garnered comparisons to each other. They're both rich, goateed geniuses who grow from being arrogant snobs to selfless heroes, even if their hubris is still their worst enemy. Their origins are also similar in the sense that physical harm motivates them to develop their powers. The Iron Man armor stems from Tony's need to protect his heart just as Strange seeks out the mystic arts to heal his hands, but what if the former was the one who sought out the latter's solution to his ailment? Perhaps Tony was trapped in the Ten Rings' cave with someone like Wong instead of Doctor Yinsen. The story would be an interesting way to explore if Tony Stark can still responsibly wield a new and different power, and it would be fun to see how the tech genius would interpret magic.

The strongest moments of What If...? have toyed with the fundamental traits of what truly makes a character who they are, and there are few characters in the MCU as morally complicated as Loki. The God of Mischief has bounced from supervillain to antihero to regular jerk to genuine good guy, so there's wriggle room to suggest that, at some point in some parallel universe, he might actually be worthy enough to lift Mjolnir.  This idea already has precedent not only in the comics, but also in the MCU, too. In the Loki Disney+ series, one of the variants, dubbed "Boastful Loki" and played by DeObia Oparei, is shown wielding the hammer, or at least some approximation of it, though he's clearly just as manipulative and back-stabbing as his villainous counterparts.

At one point, the What If...? comics tackled the major crossover events within the Marvel universe, including Civil War. In contrast, Captain America: Civil War has gotten virtually no attention so far in the television series. The fun in this concept would ultimately lay in exploring how characters could take different sides in the conflict, and there's no one whose allegiance determines his destiny more than Peter Parker. Tony Stark's relationship with the fledgling Spider-Man sets up one of the most important character dynamics for the future of the MCU, and changing it would most likely radically alter the course of events. As a bonus, it would be satisfying to see how Captain America would raise his mentor and how much Pete's views of power and responsibility would change, especially considering how the two almost never interacted in the MCU.

Related: The MCU Finally Remembered Happy Hogan's Power

Carol Danvers, a.k.a. Captain Marvel, the Kree-human hybrid, still offers ripe ground for further characterization. In her own film, she was an unwitting agent for the brutal Kree empire, but she eventually remembers her past and finds her humanity, proving that her moral heart was always in the right place. One of the issues of the What If?... comic book, however, places the original Captain Marvel in a villainous role, which would make for a terrifying scenario considering the hero's immense power levels. An episode focusing on Carol Danvers' dark side like the Doctor Strange episode could expose her deeper flaws, which were arguably not emphasized in the film. Namely, the story could discover if all that separates Danvers from being a savior of the universe and a potential killing machine is her human identity.

The end of Avengers: Endgame posits that Captain America has already seen what the world would look like if he never ended up frozen for seventy years. However, considering all the confusing continuity problems that moment opened up, it might help to clarify what actually would happen if Steve Rogers got to live his full life if there were a What If...? episode centering on this idea. Of course, the What If...? version would have to start from the very beginning before Rogers had the advantage of using time-travel to keep the main MCU timeline intact. That means the Avengers would certainly not look the same, opening up the possibility of a darker conclusion than the happy ending Steve got in Endgame.

The What If...? series has covered MCU ground up to the events of Endgame, but the new era of Marvel that's currently ramping up would be fun to play around with, as well. The original What If...? comic book series includes an issue that ponders what would happen if Shang-Chi sided with his father, Fu Manchu, instead of battling against him. Although the film adaptation changes the villain's identity to Xu Wenwu, a.k.a. The Mandarin, due to both rights and racial stereotyping issues, the general concept of Shang-Chi's nemesis being his own dad remains the same. Shang-Chi explores this complex father-son relationship and maps out the hero's journey from vengeance to forgiveness, so a universe in which Shang-Chi is still under the toxic clutches of Wenwu isn't totally out of the question.

Next: How Shuri’s New MCU Story Sets Up Iron Man’s Replacement

What If...? releases new episodes Wednesdays on Disney+.



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