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What If...: T'Challa Became a Star-Lord?

“Is your destiny determined by your nature or by the nature of your world?”

As much as a show should be judged on its own merits, by its nature, What If...? is meant to be viewed as a reflection of the MCU we’ve come to know and love. In this case, if the above quote didn’t make it clear, we ponder the age-old question of nature vs. nurture. What made Peter Quill and T’Challa the men they became? Was it purely genetics or a question of upbringing?

In truth, it’s not a fair comparison. As a prince, T’Challa had every luxury and advantage that Wakanda could afford. Peter was a middle-class kid from the US who just watched his mother die. Their view of the world was set before Yondu ever whisked them away. This is why Peter’s journey in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie is from a lone wolf to leader while What If...? proves T’Challa already was one.

One could make the argument that this was the preferred version. Under this Star Lord’s influence, Yondu has gone straight and the Ravagers have become the galactic version of Robin Hood and his Merry Men. So much so that Khorath paid homage to the Star-Lord in a way Peter could only dream of. The icing on the cake was that T’Challa talked Thanos out of snapping away half of the universe. And he did it before most of Thanos’ experiments on Nebula. All of which makes the Black Panther, hell, the majority of the MCU, look like small potatoes. That said, both Star-Lords become heroes in their own right and both do their part to stop Thanos' master plan.

But this isn't solely about dueling Star-Lords; we also have several variations on a theme. First, there's Khorath’s continued awe of T’Challa and his complete ignorance of Peter. And If Peter and Gamora were an item, it is implied that, at the very least, Nebula has a thing for this Star-Lord. Both children were taken in 1988 and despite how much Yondu grew to love Peter and T’Challa, he lied to both of them about their past. That said, they both forgave him. Peter because Yondu saved him from almost certain death and T’Challa because he still had a past to go back to.

More important than any of that, watching a story we love play out in new ways with different characters is just plain fun. Where else is Howard the Duck going to advise the Future King of Wakanda or Thanos and Okoye going to discuss genocide over drinks. True, Ego may be about to destroy the relative Utopia of this universe. But as they say, that's another story.

There are rumors that Chadwick Boseman voiced at least one other episode for this series. Whether it’s true or not, this was a fitting tribute to a beloved character and an amazing actor. Wakanda Forever.

4.5 out of 5 Embers of Genesis

Parting Thoughts:


Please tell me the terribly chatty Kronan wasn’t Korg!

Also, not a good sign that the Collector had Captain America’s shield and Mjolnir.

“Dedicated to our friend, our inspiration, and our hero, Chadwick Boseman.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.


Khorath: “Star-Lord. I’m a huge fan of your work!”
T’Challa: “That was not the reaction I was expecting.”

Yondu: “Why stop at one world when we could show you all of them?”

Kraglin: “I’m pretty sure it’s still just genocide, Big Guy.”
Thanos: “I’m pretty sure it’s efficient.”

Khorath: “You mean she’s your offspring?”
Thanos & Nebula: “Adopted.”

Yondu: “This is suicide, T’Challa. Not even I can get through his defenses. You dig? This maniac won’t do you the kindness of killing you. He’ll dissect you for a science project, frame whatever’s left, and hang you up on the wall."
Nebula: “So, should I mark you down as undecided?”

T’Challa: “The Embers of Genesis. Do you know where I could find them?”
Howard: “Cosmic Flora, down the hall. Take a Louie at the Frost Giants, a hard Ralph at the Kronans. You’ll see a sign for Elvish literature. Ignore that, total snooze.”

The Collector: “I simply abhor drama.”
T’Challa: “Your outfit would suggest otherwise.”

Shari loves sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural, and anything with a cape.


  1. I'm not terribly up on Guardian of the Galaxy and I'm sure I didn't get a lot of the in-jokes. What I enjoyed most was Thanos in bars trying to convince people that his genocide idea was a good one, the way other guys in bars talk about stuff that will never, ever happen.

  2. i think this was what if chad became starlord cause he was just an amazing guy and person his death hit HARD and seeing this as his last role alive hit me too

    also XD thanos turning good had me rolling

  3. I loved everything about this version of Thanos. But the funniest thing to me was watching Khorath fawning over his "Best Friend." In the movie, Khorath hadn't a clue who the Star-Lord was and was perfectly fine with that. You might want to give it a chance, Billie. It's hilarious.

    I understand, Matthew. I'd asked to review this episode specifically because it was one of the last things Chadwick did. He was such an amazing talent and I still can't believe he's gone.

  4. I felt the same. Seeing (or hearing, I guess) Chadwick as T'Challa for the last time was very emotional. One thing I was confused about though was if T'Challa had super strength. He seemed to hold his own against the Collector better than an average human but isn't what made Black Panther!T'Challa super the heart shaped herb which the new Black Panther only partakes in after the old Black Panther dies?


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