The second episode of Marvel’s alternate reality spin-off series What If…? introduced king T’Challa as the alternate universe Star-Lord who does some things that can be construed as quite controversial. Among other things, the new Star-Lord redeems Thanos, which would never have happened in the main MCU. For the MCU’s first three phases, also called ‘The Infinity Saga,’ the mighty Thanos was the big-bad bully antagonist. Thanos’ goal of wiping out half the universe using the Infinity Stones was a wicked attack on the Earth, to say the least. His eventual defeat in Avengers: Endgame concluded the first major era of the MCU. Keeping Thanos’ outlandish behavior and personality from the original timeline in mind, it’s clear that his actions in What If…? couldn’t have happened in MCU’s main timeline, covered in the movies.
The Mad Titan going soft?
In the second episode of the first season of Marvel’s What If…?, “What If… T’Challa Became a Star-Lord?,” T’Challa somehow manages to convince Thanos to choose another path. He made him realize that he doesn’t have to go around killing to obtain the stones, which he was doing. This leads Thanos to become a tender figure and a formidable ally of T’Challa. Although this new version of Thanos is an entertaining twist on one of the MCU’s greatest villains, it’s ultimately out of character for Thanos. We must consider what he has done already, following a plan riddled with flaws and crime against humanity. Moreover, Thanos has committed horrific atrocities to the universe in his past, not just on Earth, and making his abrupt redemption for the sake of surprise and comedy was a wrong decision from a viewer’s perspective.
We get it, or do we?
We get the path this show has chosen to take, staying true to its name, but sometimes the things they portray are hard to digest. Even for a Marvel fan, it can be quite bizarre. These storylines work, giving some of the beloved characters a new spin. It has sometimes given justice to them that they should have received in the central universe. But redeeming Thanos in MCU and showing him having a drink as an ally didn’t sit that well. What’s more bizarre is that Thanos had lived for over a thousand years before he was introduced in Avengers: Infinity War.
Throughout this time, he conquered numerous worlds by brutally murdering a good chunk of their populations through sheer military strength. It’s pretty difficult to imagine that none of his victims on any planet ever tried to convince him of a better way to solve the universe’s problem of lousy utilization of resources; we know we always thought about it. The world is using the resources unevenly, but we know that there must be some other way to undo the mistake rather than killing half the population of Earth, right? T’Challa must be too smart then.
We can all agree that Thanos’ redemption was quite an odd choice in an otherwise entertaining and unique episode of Marvel’s What If…?. Seeing T’Challa as a more stable and dependable version of Star-Lord and having The Collector fill in as a strong character made for an exciting setting. But what struck out as a sore thumb was the fact that the Mad Titan suddenly and quite eagerly abandoned his ultimate goal, something he has been trying to accomplish and is not shy to kill for it.
What will you give this episode out of 10?