This review is spoiler-free.
This was always going to be a tough and emotional watch, given the real-world tragedy of the passing of Chadwick Boseman, and it did take a few minutes for me to adjust and forget the real-world issues and simply follow along with this fun, exciting, and action-packed thirty minutes of Marvel animated storytelling.
While still pretty familiar, this second episode doesn’t hold to the framework of the established storyline as much as its predecessor. There was a lot more unpredictability surrounding the story and its characters, and that made for a really fun and exciting viewing experience.
In terms of the ‘What If’ ramifications, T’Challa has basically changed the entire MCU on an unprecedented scale. You could tell that the cast and crew had a lot of fun flipping so many different characters and established stories and sub-plots completely on their head. I was genuinely shocked at some of the revelations in this second episode and if they are willing to go to these lengths, none of the established MCU is safe!
As for the cast, most of our Guardians and Black Panther heroes and villains have returned – but there are a few shocking surprises and some noticeable omissions. This is a spoiler-free review, so I can’t say much, but there is one actor returning to the MCU who is a BIG player and I was shocked that they had been brought into this story. As for the Guardians cast – Djimon Hounsou (Korath) single-handily steals the episode in the opening act and Michael Rooker (Yondu), Karen Gillan (Nebula), and Benicio Del Toro (The Collector) all reprise their roles beautifully. One actor who wasn’t happy about not being asked to return was Dave Bautista, whose role of Drax was filled by voiceover royalty Fred Tatasciore – who does a really solid impression.
Now, there is one person I have clearly missed from the above and that is of course Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa/Star-Lord). His performance was great, it’s what we’ve come to expect, and the way he makes Star-Lord feel like his own unique character is a credit to his talent. I really enjoyed this version of Star-Lord, and he channeled his message of peace, beyond the confines of Earth and into the far reaches of the galaxy. As the episode ramps up and ends in spectacular fashion, you will find yourself crashing back down to Earth in a bang, as the tribute message to Chadwick appears and the tone and mood of the final scene completely switch. I think Chadwick would have been proud of what they achieved here.
What If… T’Challa Became a Star-Lord takes the story possibilities of the series up to 11 with constant script flips, fun-filled action scenes, and an overall message of freedom, peace, and togetherness. The series continues to go from strength to strength and after episode 2, I have no idea where they are going to go next!
We miss you, Chadwick. Wakanda forever.