As the Disney + show, Loki opened the MCU multiverse doors and future movies such as Spiderman: No Way Home and Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness, we have What If? First; it was a Marvel comic series that began in 1977 that looked at the plethora of story possibilities with Marvel characters. It’s the multi-verse – anything can happen. The first issue, “What If Spider-Man had Joined the “Fantastic Four?,” was a gateway to infinite possibilities. Now, it has been adapted into an animated series, with Uatu / The Watcher (voiced by Jeffrey Wright) as our narrator. He only observes, but doesn’t interfere. Much like Loki touched on, one choice can change the fate of everything.
In ‘What If… Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?,” this is exactly what happens. The episode picks up where Steve Rodgers (voiced by Josh Keaton) is about to be injected with the super solider serum to become Captain America. A spy tries to sabotage the experiment, and with some quick action by Peggy Carter (voiced by Hayley Atwell), they are able to salvage it. Unfortunately, Steve gets shot, and Peggy is the one who takes on the super solider role.
While their roles are flipped, the principles surrounding the characters remain intact. Love still very much radiates between Peggy and Steve. The episode touches on the theme of the super solider serum enhancing who you are inside. Only making the courageous and selfless nature of Peggy Carter that more apparent. A different challenge that rears its ugly head as Peggy takes the position of Captain Carter is sexism. During WW2, it was frowned upon for women to fight on the front lines in the military. As repeated by Colonel John Flynn (voiced by Bradley Whitford), he doesn’t believe that Peggy is the right person for the job. She repeatedly proves him wrong in spectacular fashion throughout the episode. One highlight is the newsreel-style, 1940s jazz infused montage when Carter and Rodgers with his ‘Hydra Stomper’ iron suit took on waves of Hydra soldiers.
Speaking of Hydra, their presence along with Johann Schmidt / Red Skull (voiced by Ross Marquand), and the Tesseract are all present to give this quick 30-minute episode an aim. That, in itself, is a gateway to this multiversal box that What If is going to operate out of. The animation style is gorgeous in how it enriches the action. When characters interact with each other, it feels like motion capture to where you can feel the facial cues of how somebody is saying things. Bucky Barnes (voiced by Sebastian Shaw) and Howard Stark (voiced by Dominic Cooper) are great in their supporting roles. They serve as the comedic presence during the episode.
Hayley Atwell reprising her role as Peggy Carter hits all the facets of emotions. She’s strong, confident, and witty when she needs to be. Also, she’s gentle with her love for Steve. This episode allows her to have an empathetic center without it, making her appear less than. Or falling into the conventional pitfalls that is known to happen with pulling a female hero, front and center. For the first episode, What If begins taking a story that should be fresh in everybody’s mind (given the recent Falcon and The Winter Soldier series) and puts a progressive spin on it. Marvel pares all the pieces of this story you know into a fun and quick jaunt in one morsel of the worlds to come.
Photo Credit: Disney