REVIEW: ‘What If…?’ Episode 6

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What If Episode 6 - But Why Tho

What If…? Episode 6 alters the course of not one, but two major Marvel Studios films by crossing a pair of unlikely characters. “What If…Killmonger Had Rescued Tony Stark?” features a universe where Erik “Killmonger” Stevens (Michael B. Jordan) manages to intercept Tony Stark (Mick Wingert) before the Ten Rings kidnapped him. Without the experiences that shaped him, Stark never became Iron Man in this world and decided to use his intellect to bring a project of Killmonger’s to life. However, Killmonger has designs on his homeland of Wakanda…

The premise for this episode was one of the most interesting, as well as one of the most complicated. The idea of Killmonger walking a different path and Stark never becoming Iron Man is extremely fertile story ground. However, the former is a Black man from Oakland who became a revolutionary forged by anger while the latter is a wealthy white man. That dynamic is addressed throughout the issue, not only by Killmonger and Stark but also by the people they work with. “The difference between you and me is you can’t see the difference between you and me,” Killmonger tells Stark, in one of the more poignant lines in the episode. Hats go off to series story editor Matthew Chauncey, who penned this episode and also wrote the T’Challa as Star-Lord episode; he manages to once again find a new twist on Black Panther that plays to that film’s strengths.

This episode features the return of Jordan as Killmonger, as well as a stacked voice cast that includes Black Panther and Iron Man alums. Jordan delivers a nuanced performance as Killmonger yet again, showing off his character’s drive and devious intellect. Wingert does a pitch-perfect impression of Robert Downey Jr. and keeps some of Stark’s characteristics including his sardonic sense of humor and sense of righteousness. However, the biggest surprise was the appearance of Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, as well as Angela Bassett and John Kani as his parents Ramonda & T’Chaka. A scene between T’Challa and T’Chaka hits with far more resonance than expected, and Killmonger’s interactions with the Royal Family have a different outcome in this universe. However, I wish these episodes had 10-15 more minutes in their runtime to further explore these new worlds; there are plenty of dynamics and concepts that could benefit from the extra time.

Series director Bryan Andrews also delivers some intense action sequences, which fits Killmonger’s military training and strategic thinking. In the opening sequence alone, he shows off his skill as he picks off Ten Rings operatives and literally chucks the missile that would have injured Stark into the air, where it detonates in a spectacular explosion. A battle between the forces of Wakanda and a series of military drones Stark designs also feels properly epic, as Ramonda leads the Dora Milaje into battle and Killmonger even gets into the fray. The origin of the drones also have a rather tongue-in-cheek moment; Killmonger mentions that he’s a fan of anime, which is true of Jordan in real life. It also can’t be a coincidence that the initial design of the drones bears a resemblance to the mecha from gen: LOCK, which Jordan also stars in and executive produces.

What If…? Episode 6 pairs together two unexpected characters, changing the dynamic of their destinies while serving as another unexpected tribute to Black Panther. With only three episodes left, and the mid-season trailer hinting at characters from previous episodes meeting each other, I hope the remainder of the first season has tales as innovative and emotional as this installment.

New episodes of What If…? will be available to stream on Wednesdays on Disney+.

 

What If...? Episode 6
  • 8.5/10
    Rating - 8.5/10
8.5/10

TL;DR

What If…? Episode 6 pairs together two unexpected characters, changing the dynamic of their destinies while serving as another unexpected tribute to Black Panther. With only three episodes left, and the mid-season trailer hinting at characters from previous episodes meeting each other, I hope the remainder of the first season has tales as innovative and emotional as this installment.