The Marvel Cinematic Universe is about to get shaken up with the arrival of the What If? animated series. While making the promotional rounds at San Diego Comic Con, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige said Season 1 will focus on The Infinity Saga or every MCU movie that’s been released so far.
The show, narrated by Jeffrey Wright as The Watcher, will explore alternate realities where one change made all the difference. That sounded like a lot of fun so I figured I’d try out some possible scenarios that could have had a major impact on the MCU. Maybe some will actually be covered in What If?
Tony can’t figure out the cure to stop from dying?
A major subplot of Iron Man 2 revolved around Tony Stark figuring out the cure to the arc reactor, which was slowly poisoning him. Imagine the fallout if Stark isn’t able to cure himself and instead dies after exhausting himself in the final battle against Whiplash. Without Stark, Captain America and Bruce Banner likely don’t feel the need to start questioning Nick Fury and SHIELD’s motives after being assembled.
For argument’s sake we’ll say Cap and Black Widow are enough to capture Loki in Germany. There wouldn’t be a fight with Thor, who Cap is able to convince to work with the Avengers, whose ranks now include James Rhodey looking to carry on the legacy of Iron Man.
The Avengers defeat Loki in the Battle of New York thanks to Rhodey’s sacrifice play. Without Stark being haunted by visions of Thanos invading again, there’s no creation of Ultron. Without Ultron, the Avengers quickly recruit Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch to their ranks after stopping Baron Von Strucker and recapturing Loki’s scepter.
Ultron never existing prevents the tragedy of Sokovia, which keeps the Avengers on the right side of the government allowing a fully assembled team to take on Thanos when he invades looking to collect the Infinity Stones. Even together the Avengers aren’t able to stop Thanos from wiping out half the population and with no Stark to jury-rig the time traveling device, Thanos fulfills his destiny.
Loki kills Nick Fury instead of Agent Coulson?
As a brainwashed Hawkeye leads the assault on the SHIELD helicarrier, Loki impales Nick Fury instead of Agent Coulson. Maria Hill and Agent Coulson assume control of SHIELD. Without their connection and suspicions of Alexander Pierce, Hill and Coulson aren’t able to stop Hydra from tearing apart SHIELD. Without override access to SHIELD’s files, Hill, Coulson and Black Widow can’t upload all of SHIELD’s dirty laundry on the Internet. This prevents Helmut Zemo from ever learning the secrets of destroying the Avengers from within.
Without SHIELD’s presence, it falls on the Avengers to stop the Kree invasion, which takes them off planet long enough for Thanos’ forces to defeat Stephen Strange and take his Time Stone. With the aid of the Time Stone, Thanos’ army seizes control of all the Infinity Stones.
And this time the Avengers don’t have an ace up their sleeve to help turn the tide of battle as Nick Fury never trusted anyone else with the means to contact Carol Danvers. Ultimately, this prevents the Avengers from stopping Thanos in recovering the Infinity Stones and wiping out everyone and starting creation over.
Thor never comes to charge up Vision?
In a pivotal moment in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor flies in to break up the squabble between Captain America and Iron Man by charging up Vision, who ends up playing a key role in stopping Ultron. But how would things turned out if Thor didn’t arrive until the team was already in Sokovia?
On the surface, one other Avenger wouldn’t make that much of a difference in stopping Ultron, but it’s the future repercussions that matter the most here. With no Vision, there’s no wielder of the Mind Stone. And without Vision would Black Widow and War Machine be swayed to join Team Iron Man during Civil War? Does Scarlet Witch become more despondent and depressed over her brother’s death and withdraw further?
When Thanos’ Black Order comes for the Earth-bound Infinity Stones there would be no warning or defense measure to make securing it harder. Losing Vision helped channel Scarlet Witch’s rage when she faced Thanos a second time, which nearly won the battle for the Avengers. Without that motivation, would Wanda be as eager to confront Thanos?
Captain America signs the Sokovia Accords, but Iron Man doesn’t?
With this shift, it’s the rash Tony Stark who doesn’t agree with the Sokovia Accords while Captain America signs. Falcon and Ant-Man stay on the same side while Vision and Black Widow join Team Cap. War Machine, Scarlet Witch, Black Panther and Spider-Man stay with Iron Man while Hawkeye joins up as well.
In this reality, Stark feels doubly betrayed after learning Bucky killed his parents and in his rage, kills Bucky only to get paralyzed by Captain America and sent to The Raft as a prisoner of the US government.
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Killmonger kills T’Challa instead of throwing him off the ravine?
In the pivotal fight for control of Wakanda, Killmonger kills T’Challa in front of the Wakanda elders and his family. Grief-stricken, Ramonda, Shuri, Nakia and Ross travel to the land of the Jabari where they offer the final heart shaped herb to M’Baku granting him the powers of The Black Panther. M’Baku is able to rally the Wakandas around him and defeat Killmonger.
Although respectful of T’Challa’s past initiatives, M’Baku does not see the value of a partnership with those beyond Wakanda’s borders leaving Captain America and the Avengers forced to defend against Thanos’ forces at the Avengers Compound. Without the support of Wakanda to hold back Thanos’ army, the Avengers are quickly overrun and Thanos makes his snap long before Thor arrives with Stormbreaker.
Carol Danvers never leaves Earth?
When Captain Marvel decides to let the Skrulls find their own home world, Nick Fury isn’t as focused on fortifying SHIELD thanks to the mega-weapon superhero protecting the country. Carol rushes off and tracks down a missing Tony Stark before he designs his armor indirectly preventing the creation of Iron Man…or at least the humbling experience that makes Stark veer (pun intended) from the path of a weapons manufacturer.
Danvers finds Thor when he crashes on Earth instead of Jane Foster, which prevents Thor from gaining a deeper appreciation of humanity. Loki’s invasion of Earth is quickly thwarted with the combined efforts of Captain Marvel, Captain America and Thor. Thanos directs the Black Order toward finding a way to stop Carol and get help from an unexpected ally in the Kree who have long desired revenge on “Vers.” Not making the same mistake as The Kree, Thanos uses the Black Order to keep Carol occupied long enough to snap an inhibitor chip on her and uses his newly acquired Power Stone to kill Captain Marvel.
Earth’s defenders are limited to Captain America, Thor, The Hulk, Falcon, Ant-Man and The Wasp, a less tech-savvy Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Wong and T’Chaka as The Black Panther. Is their failure destiny?
The Avengers reunite before Infinity War?
In this scenario, Captain America and Iron Man settle their differences and assemble the Avengers just before Thanos attacks Thor’s ship. Banner arrives back at Earth and Doctor Strange summons both Iron Man and Captain America. The Avengers hold back the Black Order from taking Doctor Strange, who then alerts Thor of the plan to lure Thanos to Wakanda. Thor informs his new allies, the Guardians of the Galaxy of this new strategy and they arrive on Earth while Thor builds Stormbreaker.
Though enraged about Gamora’s death, Peter Quill doesn’t get the chance to mess up the plan as Black Widow knocks him out. Captain America and Iron Man’s delaying tactics work as Thanos is unable to press his advantage against the combined full strength of the Avengers, Guardians and Wakanda defenses. Uninjured from the earlier battle with Corvus Glaive, Vision is able to phase allowing Shuri to remove the Mind Stone and destroy it thus ending the threat of the Infinity Stones and Thanos, who retreats vowing to get revenge on the heroes later.
BONUS: Quicksilver runs away from bullets he sees coming?
I’m still at a loss at how a speedster gets killed when he watches Ultron start to fire.
Photo Credit: Marvel Studios