Chadwick Boseman makes one, final appearance as T’Challa as we recap this week’s episode of What If…? titled “What If… T’Challa Became a Star-Lord?” When T’Challa is taken from Wakanda as a young boy by the Ravagers, he causes several surprising, big changes in the galaxy, and of course, there’s a fun heist. We talk about all the big moments, Easter eggs — and the lasting legacy of Boseman.
Full Episode Transcript
Alex: Welcome to MarvelVision a podcast about Marvel, the MCU. And What If… ? on Disney+. I’m Alex.
Justin: Today we ask ourselves what if? The possibilities are endless. It could be us hosting this. We could all be wearing t-shirts or some sort of hoodie, despite the fact that it’s summer. What if? I’m Justin.
Pete: I’m Pete.
Alex: And we are going to be talking about the second episode of season one of What If… ? And the idea here, spoilers, if you haven’t checked it out, but what if T’Challa turned out to be Star-Lord? What if that happened? We find out in this very episode, go and watch it because spoilers hell, but to give you a broad overview of the episode, it is exactly what I said at the beginning. We start at the beginning of Guardians of the Galaxy, turns out T’Challa was taken to Star-Lord. We don’t know exactly what’s happening. We flash back, we see how it happened. And we follow a heist as T’Challa and his team of good guy, Robin Hood, or Robin Leach, if you prefer. Style, Ravagers, Rob the Collector of the Embers of Genesis. I believe it’s called the Embers of Genesis. Yep.
Justin: I think that’s correct.
Alex: And his crew includes none other than Thanos, who T’Challa managed to convince to be a good guy. And by the end of the episodes-
Pete: Oh my God. Thanos clips were just unbelievable, every time.
Justin: Great to see him.
Alex: Good stuff. By the end of the episode, T’Challah and the Ravagers have headed back to Wakanda, they have a big party there. We get to see him reunited with his family. And there’s a little tease that things may be about to go very wrong in the multi-verse as Ego the Living Planet shows up to reclaim his son, the actual Star-Lord, Peter Quill, tying into Guardians of the Galaxy 2. So just not reading material, but I guess watching material for this one, it’s pretty obvious, but you’re definitely going to want to watch Guardians of the Galaxy, that’s a direct thing. Black Panther would be a good thing to watch. If you really want extra credit, then you’re going to want to watch Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and maybe Avengers: Infinity War. But I think you could probably figure out what’s going on there.
Alex: So let’s talk about this episode and I think we need to start with the big thing here of course, which is, this is Chadwick Bozeman’s final role. I believe it’s his final role overall, not just as his final role is T’Challah. It ends with a very heart-wrenching dedication to him at the end that says, “Dedicated to our friend, our inspiration and our hero Chadwick Boseman.” Then the screen fades to black. And there’s some very sad music over the credits. Pete, I know you were so affected you had to take a break. You had to take an emotional break after the episode. How did this hit you? How did this strike you?
Pete: Well, this is the last Black Panther moment we have. Chadwick Boseman played Black Panther and brought it to a whole nother level. And this was his last kind of stamp on it. This was the last of Black Panther and it was emotional because this is it. There’s no more, it really sinks in. And it’s like, “Really?” He was just so happy that he got to play Black Panther, and this was such a amazing look at how awesome Black Panther is as a character. You put him in over here, you put him in over here. What a different outcome having thin as a body, the guy at the bar who like, “Dude, that’s genocide.” It was just such a powerful, amazing What If… ? And then also an exploration of how great this character is.
Pete: And it’s emotional because I just thought it was such an amazing performance. And him as an actor was unbelievable and I go back and I watch him playing Jackie Robinson. And I put in my head that it’s Black Panther. So it’s fun on different levels. But it’s just one of those things where it hits you. And I’m glad that Marvel did that respectful thing at the end. But I did, because we were watching these back to back, I needed a moment and then I was able to move on. But man, it was awesome.
Alex: Justin, what about you?
Justin: I mean, yeah. I agree with you, Pete. When watching this and to hear his voice was just… It gets you, it’s a rare thing in our culture or in Hollywood whatever, where it’s just a truly sad story across the board and someone that genuinely, everyone really loved Chadwick Boseman. And to be able to hear him do the role, like Pete’s saying, that sort of brought him to our attention, even though it was in an animated format, it’s just amazing how powerful that voice is.
Alex: I loved, and I think you were touching this on it as well, Pete, but I loved that this was such a upbeat tribute to the character. That’s the thing that really struck me about it. I completely understand getting emotional at the thing at the end and hearing his voice for the last time. But the idea that you have Chadwick playing this character that we all love from Black Panther and the other movies coming in, and the idea that T’Challa, if he was Star-Lord, would make everything better. He’s great. And true, I think 100% accurate, of course he would be a better Star-Lord than Peter Quill. Of course, he would make the entire galaxy better. He’d make the Ravagers better. He’d make Thanos better. All of these things.
Alex: And I understand those are story things, but the way the Chadwick Boseman plays in this episode is so fun and so light throughout, that I thought it was a really beautiful, wonderful thing to see because it’s complete happenstance, of course, but oftentimes with these sort of things, a actor who plays an iconic role would pass away and you have that last episode and it’s just grueling and sad to watch. Here to watch something that makes you laugh, that’s a fun adventure, a fun heist, has some cute moments to it and ends in a really positive way with that party at Wakanda, is great. It leaves you feeling good at the end about the legacy that Boseman left behind, even though he was taken from us far too soon.
Justin: Yeah. I mean, it’s funny too. Black Panther convinces Thanos to not kill half of the universe by just chatting. He just talks him out of it. It’s like a bar conversation. He’s like, “I thought it was a good idea.” Just to be ale to, that’s a super power that we don’t talk about very much in the Black Panther quiver. And like you’re saying, Alex, it feels especially joyful given everything that happened, which is sort of like, that can’t be what they had intended here. It’s just a happy coincidence that the last thing we hear of Chadwick Boseman is something really celebrating the joy of the character and the actor.
Alex: Yeah. Like I said, complete happenstance here, but it does give something, an episode that I think otherwise would be just kind of a fun lark. It gives it a lot more emotional weight, particularly when you get to any of those Wakanda sequences. When you see his dad begging for him to come home, when you hear the music kick in, when he sees the ship, all those little things. When he finally returns home at the end, it feels that much more poignant because of this.
Pete: As soon as you hear the drums. It’s just like, “Oh, shit.” It’s so well done, so tight. Just a heads up guys, if you say anything negative about this episode, I will lose my fucking shit on you. Okay. So just so we know moving forward, this is an unbelievable episode. Okay.
Justin: All reviewers threaten their partners to say only nice things about this.
Alex: Well, to that end, I think that’s a great segue to talk about the next thing that I wanted to talk about, which is how does this stack up against the first episode? By the way I have this bear here, that’s sleeping right next to me. And if I say anything loud, it wakes up and it just starts mauling me.
Pete: The best way to deal with the bears to just poke it a little bit. Bears like to be very lightly poked. Poking the bear, it’s an old wives’ tale.
Alex: Yeah. That’s where it comes from. Well, Pete, let’s go to you then, because obviously you want to frame this up as you didn’t want us to make fun or say anything bad about the first episode. You definitely don’t want us to say anything bad about the second episode, but which one is better, Pete?
Pete: You got to give it to this one just because of the the Chadwick Boseman of it all. So, that makes it…
Alex: Oh, so Hayley Atwell is bad at her job? Is that what you’re saying, Pete? That’s really interesting. It’s really interesting that you definitely think that.
Justin: This is a healthy way you turned that on Alex. Definitely a good thing for all of us.
Alex: Oh, hold on. The bear’s waking up, give me a second. Anyway, just to actually talk about this episode versus the other one. I think this to me was very much on par. I liked the fact that we did get the riffs on the Guardian of the Galaxy, but if went off on its own tangent, it has it’s own heist and structure there and played off of these different aspects of the Marvel Universe in a creative way. I think there’s a more emotional heft to this one as well that I liked. And that’s probably because of the Boseman of it all, but still just a fun show. I think overall, that’s what I get from these first two episodes. What about you, Justin?
Justin: Yeah, I agree with you. I do think if I had to choose, I would probably say that I liked the first one better, the captain Carter one. Only because that feels more in spirit with What If… ? is. Where you just take one thing and make that little change and see the repercussions. This was a mashup, this was a fun mashup of two different universes, two different character people, put thrown together in a bucket that we hadn’t seen before. So it definitely was fun, but not quite having the same, watch or looking down, like one little nail in the road, changed everything.
Alex: But let me ask you this question then, does the initial what if of it all makes sense? And what I mean by that is the idea that the Ravagers pickup T’Challa instead of Peter Quill, does that work for you?
Justin: Well, it hits on something that I’ll admit-
Pete: If you outsource, I mean, come on.
Justin: It hits on something that bothers me as a sort of, retcon almost that the Ravagers were looking for Peter Quill because of Ego. I like the idea that Peter Quill was just pulled into space. I think it was a fun idea. And to change that, weakens it a little bit, which is what they did in the main story. And this, it feels just a little convenient. It feels a little like, “Well, this other guy’s really awesome too. So what if he got picked up?” When the fun of the story has always been a random kid gets picked up and gets to go to space. The fact that T’Challa in this is like, “Hell yeah. I’m going to space.” You’re supposed to be a little sad about it, I think.
Alex: Yeah. And I do think beyond that, it’s fine, and it’s fun. And I like all the riffs and the changes they make, but that was the one thing where I was like, “Nah, it’s a little creaky here. It’s a little crazy.”
Pete: How dare you.
Justin: I think we know what Pete’s going to say. I do have another pet peeve.
Pete: They explained it very clearly. And it makes sense, if two knuckleheads are kind of half-assing something, you’re going to get something like that.
Alex: It’s two entirely different parts of the world. And I understand we’re talking about a multiverse, where there’s infinite variables here.
Pete: In space, it’s not. It’s still a round little thing you’re landing on. It doesn’t make that much difference.
Alex: They know what planets are. They’ve been to planets before.
Pete: Right, I’m saying it’s far from us because we live here, but when you’re coming from there [crosstalk 00:12:03]
Alex: Oh yeah. When you’re far away, it looks small.
Pete: Oh my God.
Alex: It gets larger as you get closer to it though.
Pete: You’re such a ridiculous person.
Justin: Hey Pete, giving you directions must be easy.
Pete: It’s super easy.
Justin: I’m trying to get to New York city, “Oh, don’t worry. It’s tiny on a giant map.”
Alex: It’s about an inch away.
Pete: It’s an inch away.
Justin: Yeah. Keep going. You’re so close. Maybe there’s just an infinite multiverse situation where the Ravagers picked up every child on earth. And this is just the one where it was T’Challa. One other thing that has always bothered me about Guardians of the Galaxy Canon, is Yondu’s arrow.
Justin: The fact that it shoots around and he just whistles, it’s too powerful. It’s too juiced up. He could kill anyone just by whistling a little tune.
Alex: Yeah, but he has to whistle the proper way actually to control it.
Justin: I’ve never heard him miss, really. He doesn’t be like, “Oh, whoops. That was…”
Pete: His whistling is very specific. (whistling)
Justin: Yeah, but it seems… Wow I can hear it coming. It just seems too easy for him to just kill everyone. So he’s too powered up in my mind.
Pete: Oh, okay. That’s a weird very specific thing.
Alex: I guess. I mean, I think in this episode, I didn’t mind it because it’s a riff, you’re showing this thing that happened, but in a different way, you’re showing that Yondu and him are working together. The arrow was a big reveal in the first movie, but here we already know it’s coming. So I appreciated them doing it right at the beginning. And then eventually having The Collector just snap it so it doesn’t enter into that final fight there. What did you think about the fact that The Collector was totally jacked?
Pete: Jack Collector.
Alex: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Pete: Makes sense. I mean, when you lift enough baseball cards and comic books and whatever else you’re collecting, you’re going to get strong kid. My whole workout plan is designed around lifting old issues of Spider-Man.
Justin: I watch your back bro.
Alex: This gets into another thing that I think we could talk about, the voice work. I think we were uniformly pretty happy with the voice work in the first episode, other than Sebastian Stan. I know we’re not even going to touch Chadwick Boseman. He did a great job as T’Challa, but what’d you think about the rest of it? Was there anything that jumped out to you as good, bad, in between?
Justin: I thought it was great. Like what you were saying in the first episode, I don’t even mind when the casting isn’t what it was in the movies. It’s an approximation. It gets close to get a voice actor that can really deliver because outside of the few little quibbles I mentioned before, I thought this episode was really fun. The fights were great. The story was really fun. A lot of good jokes in here. It made the Ravager seem like a much more fun group than we’ve seen in the Guardians movies. They become the Guardians of the Galaxy in a lot of ways. So across the board I thought the casting was great.
Pete: I agree. Also just the moment of what was nice about the what if at all, or where Black Panther gets to spend some time with his father. In the real universe that didn’t happen. So that was also really powerful and nice. That whole, “My son.” Whoever was doing the voice work for that was really very, very well felt.
Alex: Other than Boseman. I thought Karen Gillan was the real standout for me as Nebula, just the way she said cha-cha was very good and very fun throughout the episode. Also, I think it was Josh Brolin doing Thanos, which was good to hear him back, which was great. It was also awesome to see him cutting loose. The fight scenes with Thanos in particular, were very cool and very big because something I was wondering once they brought him out is that twist halfway through the episode, is how are the Ravagers not overpowered? And he stays pretty chill most of the episode until he completely let’s loose. And when he let’s loose, he just crushes whole battalions of people and punches them across the way. And I thought that was very cool to see.
Pete: And I love the Black Order in this. They’re such a great group of villains and we only really get to see them hanging around Thanos as his lackeys, but they’re great here. And Thanos being like, “Oh, I know these guys they’re annoying.” I want to see more of them in other parts of the Marvel Universe.
Alex: Yeah. A couple of other things that I noticed that I wanted to call out, some of them are pretty obvious I think, but the Drax scene I thought was great, him at the bar. Very funny. Also this kind of snuck under the radar for me the first time I watched it, but Drax’s wife and daughter are alive in this universe because T’Challa convinced Thanos to not go down a bad path. And I love that. I love those little things that are tiny repercussions through the what if, because of this one change. And I hope in further episodes, we get things like that where like we talked about, one big change causes multiple little and bigger changes. So I thought that was fun. We saw Cosmo the Space Dog here, that I believe briefly showed up in the first Guardians of the Galaxy, and is a big character in Guardians of the Galaxy the comic books comic. Also we got to see Howard the Duck.
Pete: Great use of Howard the Duck. You don’t get to say that often, but man, great use of Howard the Duck in this.
Alex: And it was Seth Green, who we’ve talked to you on our Riverdale podcast. He has done the voice of Howard the Duck multiple times, including I believe in Guardians of the Galaxy. So it was fun to hear him back. I wish he had played into it a little bit more. That was the one thing that I felt like, “Ah, this is just here so we can have Howard the Duck.” Which is fine and it was fun, but he didn’t quite tie into the overall arc of the episode necessarily.
Pete: Oh, my God.
Justin: And how does he get fresh martinis in that little cube?
Alex: I don’t know.
Justin: You see him when he gets out, he runs to get one, but he’s got something in his [crosstalk 00:18:18]
Pete: Really? All the space and cosmos, and that’s the thing you have a problem with?
Justin: It’s just, I don’t know where it gets them from. Does he have a special deal worked out with The Collector where he gets to order the drink? If so, how does he place the order? Does he always get the same?
Alex: Would you do that? Would you agree to be kept in one of The Collectors boxes if the deal was free drinks?
Pete: We’ve done a lot of shows for free drinks before, man.
Justin: Exactly. I stayed in bars long enough to be considered part of the collection. So yeah. I basically have agreed to do that on several occasions.
Alex: Another couple of Easter eggs and things that jumped out, The Collector has Korg’s fist, which is very sad. Clearly cut off his hand and use it as a weapon. Also he has a Dark Matter dagger from Malekith, from Thor, the Dark World. He has Captain America shield of course in the background, which was a very intriguing thing for, how did that happen? What changed there in terms of the overall history?
Justin: Well, and it made me think of in the original Guardians of the Galaxy team, in the comic books, there was a character named Vance Astro, who later in later issues of the run, inherits Captain America shield and fights in space with it. So I thought that was maybe a long throw to that character.
Alex: Yeah, that’s a good call. Another one, and this was honestly probably mentioned in Thor, Ragnarok, and I completely missed it or it went over my head, but The Collector pulls out Hela’s hat and refers to it as her Necrosword, which the Necrosword is the weapon of Gore, The God Butcher, who is the villain in Thor, Love and Thunder, the next Thor movie. So that was kind of an intriguing thing for me. I do wonder if the Necrosword will show up again in that fourth Thor movie, or I don’t know, if it doesn’t matter.
Justin: I mean, I think it has to. I’m curious if it’ll be the same, it’ll be the hat that turns into the sword sort of a thing. Because that’s a little bit lame if Gore is going to be a scary villain, which he’s sort of built that way, to have him put on a Hela’s hat and have a sword appear, like we saw here, it feels a little bit odd.
Alex: Yeah, but fans would love it. They’d be like, “Oh, the hat is back.” Fans love it when I had his back. Oh man.
Pete: Oh man. The return of a hat, especially a hat that’s so big and almost tiara’esque. That’s a flirty hat.
Alex: I agree. What other moments jumped out to you, if anything? Pete, anything you want to call out?
Pete: Yeah. I want to reiterate Jeffrey Wright doing The Watcher start is such a great kind of dive in and I just want to know I wasn’t the only one balling their eyes out at the end when they did that tribute. That’s all.
Alex: I’m sure there are other people who were bawling their eyes out.
Justin: Yeah. Do you mean balling your eyes out, B A L L I N G?
Pete: Yup. Balling.
Justin: Straight up balling.
Pete: Yeah, just ball with just my eyes. That’s it.
Pete: Eye balling.
Justin: Keep balling. Eye balling.
Alex: Justin, anything you wanted to call out in particular?
Justin: I mean, I do think that when we reveal that all of the rest of Wakanda was looking for T’Challa in space even, it reminded me of the recent Ta-Nehisi Coates’ run on Black Panther, the intergalactic version of Wakanda, which I thought was very cool. And I would have liked to seen more of that. The… Go ahead.
Alex: No. I was going to move on to the next section, but go ahead and keep calling out your stuff.
Justin: And the Thanos snap at the end. I thought it was a fun little joke, where he gets to just do a regular snap.
Alex: Well, we talked about this before, but I just love how casual it is that he’s throwing that stuff out there where he’s like, he knows he’s not going to do it anymore, but it’s that same sort of thing where you’re hanging out at a bar, you’re talking about your big plans, things that you planned back in the day, you’re not going to do it anymore, “Yeah. I was just going to wipe out half the galaxy. It’s no big deal.”
Pete: No big deal.
Justin: It’s just fun.
Alex: It’s fun stuff. Let’s move to our next section, which is our vision board where we look forward. And I did want to kind of pivot off of these last couple of things we talked about. Obviously this is a horrible thing to say out loud, but obviously there’s not going to necessarily be a sequel episode to this necessarily, for obvious reasons. But what could you see from this universe potentially going forward, either in a later episode or in What If… ? season two?
Pete: I want to see more fun Thanos, for sure.
Justin: Fun Thanos, a good twist. Yeah. And more of the Guardians. Obviously we see Drax, but we don’t get a lot of touching on the rest of the actual Guardian cast. So to have them smash in, and maybe if the Ravagers are sort of heroes, the rest of the Guardians, including Peter Quill, since he’s been picked up by Kurt Russell, as Ego’s really known, I think that would be cool way to turn it into a sequel, The Evil Guardians.
Alex: I definitely agree with that. There is that ominous thing at the end to bringing in Ego. And that seems like an obvious thing to bring up. That would also get to the thing that we haven’t really seen in these first two episodes yet that we’ve talked about, is the what if’s go really dark and apocalyptic. Here, we’ve had two very fun episodes. Two very, not too big changes to the universe other than obviously what T’Challa does here with Thanos. But to see Ego full throttle teaming up with his son, Peter Quill, what is that going to do long-term? That would be interesting, and certainly in what if’s in alternate reality, is we’ve seen a lot of things where the Guardians never met Peter Quill, what happens to Rocket? What happens to Groot? What happens to Gamora? Nebula seems to be better off, but what about the rest of them? So that would definitely be interesting to follow going forward, potentially.
Justin: For sure.
Pete: Yeah, did Groot never go back to be his teenage ways? Is he just continuing to age into an old tree?
Alex: That’s what everybody would love, right? Old Groot?
Pete: Old Groot.
Alex: Old Groot.
Justin: Aren’t we all old Groots?
Pete: Oh, man. That hurts bro.
Justin: The aging Groots. Count the rings, man.
Alex: Count the rings. I know what you’re talking about. All right, folks, if you’d like to support this podcast, patrion.com/comicbookclub. Also we do a live show every Tuesday night at 7:00 PM to Crowdcast and YouTube. Come hang out. We would love to chat with you about What If… ? ITunes, Android, Spotify, Stitcher, or the app of your choice. To subscribe, listen and follow the show @MarvelVisionPod on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Comicbookclub live.com for this podcast and many more. Until next time stay What?
Justin: Who, if?
Pete: Alex, if you cut a tree open and you look, you count the rings, that’s how old it is. That’s what Justin was talking about.
Alex: Ah, thank you.
Justin: How dare you attack Groot in that way.
Alex: Thank you. Hold on, I got to wake up this bear real quick.