Marvel's What If...? debuts the late Chadwick Boseman's storyline

Burbank, California - The second episode of What If...? debuted Chadwick Boseman's highly-anticipated performance as T'Challa on Wednesday.

Chadwick Boseman has returned as T'Challa in Marvel's What If..? The role was recorded before his untimely passing in 2020.
Chadwick Boseman has returned as T'Challa in Marvel's What If..? The role was recorded before his untimely passing in 2020.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Marvel fans were treated to an emotional, yet poignant performance from the late actor.

The second episode of the mind-bending series showed what would happen if T'Challa never became the Black Panther. It may have changed the prince's fate, but not his heart.

Instead, a different decision alters his life completely and leads him to become another hero – Star Lord.

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That's right, he becomes space ravager who traveled the galaxy under the guidance of Yondu Udonta, voiced by Michael Rooker.

The fast-paced episode also showed the villainous Thanos, played by Josh Brolin, as one of the good guys – and finally gave Howard the Duck his 15 minutes of fame.

Again, the mysterious alien figure The Watcher observes, while guiding viewers through the tangled mess of what could be.

Let's dive into the most recent installment of the series and what all of this means for the multiverse.

What if T'Challa ran away from Wakanda?

In the second episode of Marvel's What If..?, Chadwick Boseman's (r:) character, T'challa/Black Panther becomes Star Lord, who was originally played by Chris Pratt (l.).
In the second episode of Marvel's What If..?, Chadwick Boseman's (r:) character, T'challa/Black Panther becomes Star Lord, who was originally played by Chris Pratt (l.).  © collage: IMAGO / Everett Collection & IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Remember the plot for the first two Guardians of the Galaxy (GOTG) films?

Well, What If...? begins similarly.

Yet instead of Peter Quill being nabbed by Youndu, his moronic underlings capture the young T'Challa instead.

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In this timeline, the Wakandan prince has an explorer's heart and longs to see the world outside the barrier his father has enforced to keep the country safe.

T'Challa opts to set off with Youndu, who agrees to show him the galaxy.

20 years later, viewers are brought back to where the first GOTG film began, with T'Challa "stealing" the Power Stone from the planet Morag.

However, instead of being known as a troublemaker, T'Challa becomes a Robin Hood-type by stealing from the rich and giving to the poor – and the Ravagers are his band of merrymen.

In this alternate reality, T'Challa/Star Lord is also able to stop Thanos from eradicating a mass genocide, though he still views it as an act of mercy.

Star Lord is later approached by a not-so-bald Nebula, reprised by Karen Gillan, to help her steal one of Taneleer Tivan/the Collector's artifacts, the Embers of Genesis. It is a cosmic dust capable of terraforming ecosystems and eradicating galactic hunger.

Star Lord accepts the mission, but the rousing adventure quickly turns sour when Nebula seemingly betrays Star Lord and his team in order pay off her debt to the Collector.

While exploring The Collector's trove, T'Challa discovers a Wakandan spacecraft that is looking for him, revealing that Wakanda had not been destroyed, as Yondu had falsely claimed.

Meanwhile, Nebula returns to break the Ravagers out of their prison. T'Challa is briefly captured but swiftly escapes, and later battles the overly buff Collector, with a little help from Youndu.

After the team makes their getaway, T'Challa contemplates where he belongs in the universe, now that he knows his home still exists.

With some encouragement from his space family, T'Challa returns to Wakanda and reunites with his father, mother, and sister — along with the Ravagers.

The conclusion of the episode shows a fully grown Peter Quill, played by Chris Pratt, dancing to a mixtape at a Dairy Queen, where he's a janitor.

The moment, however, is interrupted by none other than his father Ego, as the Watcher eerily looks on.

What is the endgame of What If...?

The executive producer of What If..? confirmed that Chadwick Boseman will appear in three more episodes.
The executive producer of What If..? confirmed that Chadwick Boseman will appear in three more episodes.  © IMAGO / Everett Collection

All in all, the second episode of What If...? is a major step up from the first.

Also, it fittingly and beautifully pays tribute to the late Chadwick, who tragically passed away in 2020.

Fans who may think they've seen the last of the actor's portrayal as the Wakandan prince and space traveler – think again!

According to the series' executive producer Brad Winderbaum, Chadwick actually worked on four episodes of the show as T'Challa/Star Lord!

Yet, what does this mean for future episodes? And whose timeline will get switched next?

With the show seemingly picking up the pace and playing with alternate realities even more, it's evident fans are in for a wild ride.

Hopefully, future episodes will begin to tie up loose ends within the messy multiverse.

In the meantime, What If...? is streaming on Disney +!

Cover photo: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

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