‘What If …?’: Is the Captain Carter Episode the Weakest in the Series?

Marvel kicked off its animated series What If …? with an episode focused on Captain Carter. Before the show was released, many fans couldn’t wait to see Peggy Carter take the super-soldier serum and become the iconic comic hero. Now that they’ve seen the other episodes though, some feel that the Captain Carter angle may be the show’s weakest story.

What is Marvel’s ‘What If…?’

What If…? is an iconic recurring series from Marvel Comics. It chronicles the observations of Uatu the Watcher, a near-omnipotent alien from a race of beings sworn only to watch and never interfere. He monitors the multiverse surrounding our Earth, and peers into the mysteries of alternate chains of events.

The format offers what’s essentially a bottle story with no major impact on the Marvel continuity each installment for casual fans. But for the more passionate, it’s an in-depth look at how fans’ favorite characters would react in different situations. The Disney+ adaptation seems to be taking much of the same route. The creators also appear to be using it as a medium to explore darker concepts that would never make it onto the big screen in a Marvel blockbuster.

One episode of the show featured an alternate Doctor Strange consuming demons to enhance his power for endless millennia. Another showed a zombie outbreak infecting superheroes worldwide as the last few struggled to survive. These are some lofty speculative concepts for the MCU. And they’re not something that fans are likely to see a 9-figure budget attached to any time soon.

What If… offers fans a chance to see these stories play out in an animated format. If the MCU can have success with animated features delivering high-impact storylines like these, that potentially opens up a lot of new avenues for storytelling.

The problem with the ‘What If…?’ Captain Carter episode

What If shows what happens if Peggy Carter became Captain Carter?
Peggy Carter as Captain Carter holding the shield in Marvel’s ‘What If…?’ | Marvel Studios

There wasn’t particularly a problem with “What If… Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?” in most fans’ eyes until they saw the episodes that followed it. Much like Captain America: The First Avenger from which it borrows much of its pacing and structure, it’s more or less just an origin story. In the Steve Rogers universe, the really important stuff starts happening after he wakes up in the present day.

This wasn’t lost on fans. Some pointed out that they devoted 20 minutes of screen time to basically swap her out for a character that had a two-hour-plus movie to develop motivations and depth. On Reddit, one fan posted, “The approach they took with this episode seems to have been that they wanted Peggy to basically be exactly the same as Steve.” They felt that simply switching the characters didn’t do Captain Carter justice. “The Captain Carter we got was awesome, but I feel they really dropped the ball in justifying the character decisions that led to that happening,” they continued.

For many fans, this became more obvious as each episode after seemed to show more creativity. “It has certainly been far weaker than the others,” commented another fan in the discussion. Many fans were perfectly happy with the episode before seeing the others, since they had little idea of what to expect from the series.

The story may not be over

The What If…? storylines may seem like bottle episodes with no effect on each other. But that’s not entirely true. Uatu is a common character throughout the stories. As in the comics, it seems he is conflicted about whether he should intervene to prevent catastrophe. At one point, he even discusses the concept of fate and consequences with a doomed Doctor Strange who sees through the fourth wall.

This has led some fans to believe that the stories starting off tamer and getting wilder each installment was intentional. In the discussion on Reddit, one fan pointed out that the comics had a wider storyline that each smaller story led up to. And this could also be the case with the show. “You can see him [Uatu] getting more and more visible with each episode and more and more ‘involved,'” they added. This brings up the valid point that Uatu wouldn’t be included for no reason. “Each episode things get wilder and inevitably Uatu like the Uatu in the comic will do something he keep [sic] saying he wouldn’t do, to interfere.”

With only nine episodes scheduled for the first season, Uatu better get to work if he’s going to interfere any time soon. (However, plans are already in the works for the second season of What If…?) One way or the other, if the episodes are in fact going to get wilder and wilder, fans are going to be in for a fun conclusion to this season.

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