Marvel’s What If…? Episode 1 Review: Captain Carter The First Avenger?

This review contains spoilers for WHAT IF…? episode 1.

What if was probably the series I was most excited for when they announced all the new Disney+ shows. I loved the "What If?" comics as a kid so as soon as I saw the title card I passed out from excitement. Also, his show is created by Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia writer A.C. Bradley which I am a huge fan of. Captain Carter made her comic book debut in Exiles 3 as Captain America in May 2018. She was originally created for the Marvel Puzzle Quest game.

Hopefully you have seen Loki by now because this show will explore alternate timelines in the MCU multiverse. I was a little bummed when we first learned this because I was hoping to get some of my favorite "What If" issues brought to life on the small screen. Although as time went on, I got more and more excited to see how this show was going to go.

What If…? episode 1, “What If… Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?” sets the stage for the show. We're back in the WWII of "Captain America: The First Avenger", but this time right before Steve can get the Super Soldier Serum, Heinz Kruger intervenes and almost kills Rogers. Peggy Carter shoots Kruger and volunteers to be given the serum instead of the wounded Steve Rogers. Even though Colonel Flynn doesn't approve, she gets the serum and becomes "Captain Carter".

Colonel Flynn is the worst. The sexism of the time plays a big part in this What If scenario. It served as her version of Steve not getting the opportunity to help in the war at first. I'm not saying the gravity is remotely the same just noticing the parallel. Also, Steve is alive! It was weird to see Steve Rogers stay the frail man he was, but it was great to see that he's the same person without the serum. I was wondering if they were still going to do the unrequited love story between the two with their physical roles reversed. I'm glad they did. I feel like it's such an important part of both characters.

Once the Red Skull gets the Tesseract Peggy must finally suit up and don the shield. Howard hooks her up with her suit and he adds the Union Jack to the iconic shield. Captain Carter's first battle in front of Berlin's Brandenburg Gate was amazing! She manages to retrieve the Tesseract and captures Arnim Zola. The SSR has the tesseract for most of the episode, unlike in the movie where the Red Skull had it for most of the film. Howard Stark creates a Pre-Iron Man suit they call the HYDRA Stomper. Such a bad ass suit and name. I'm glad they found a way to make Steve relevant on the battlefield. I love the battle montage of Captain Carter and the Hydra Stomper.

It looks like Bucky has been affected by this What If event as well. On the train scene where we are led to believe he dies; Captain Carter saves him. Instead, Steve goes down in the Hydra Stomper, saving everyone. So, I'm assuming that means Bucky never becomes the Winter Soldier. Part of me was hoping that they would juice Steve up and make him the new Winter Soldier, but I realize that they have a lot to MCU situations to get through. Peggy is heartbroken but they decide that they must stop the Red Skull. We quickly learn that Steve is actually alive! The Red Skull captured him to get the Tesseract so they can release the Champion of HYDRA, a tentacle monster from another dimension that will lead HYDRA to world domination. The Red Skull doesn't last long, as the creature kills him almost instantly. HYDRA loses control over the monster and Peggy and Howard tries to push it back. Steve momentarily powers up the suit to lend them a hand but runs out of juice in the final moments. Captain Carter has no choice but to make the ultimate sacrifice. Another parallel to the first Captain America movie. I loved how their final conversation pretty much stayed the same. Unlike Steve being frozen in ice, Peggy was trapped in another dimension.

The first episode ends with Captain Carter returning from the dimension she was stranded in. 70 years have passed and Nick Fury and Hawkeye are there to greet her to the modern day.

I really enjoyed this episode. If you are a fan of Peggy Carter, then you are in for a treat. I'm really interested to see if these shows have any effect on the movies. I know they've said it's canon, but what does that even mean anymore after the events in Loki? The episodes are short and sweet. Some people may need the long format, but it feels refreshing to me that they are only 30 minutes. I've also seen some folks online say they weren't impressed by the first episode. I've seen the first three episodes and I can assure you it only gets better!

Marvel’s What If…? is now streaming weekly on Disney+ every Wednesday.