In this series opener we see what might have happened if Steve Rogers hadn’t been given the super-soldier serum, and it had instead passed to his colleague and romantic interest Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). As it turns out, ‘Captain Carter’ did as good a job of fighting off HYDRA as Captain America ever did (arguably a little better), in an episode that offers a whistle-stop reinterpretation of 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger.
But is this the last we’ll see of Captain Carter? The episode suggests not – and with Marvel about to delve even deeper into the multiverse in future films, this could just be the start of her MCU journey. We’ll go into some more detail below, but beware – we’re in spoiler territory, so save this for later if you haven’t seen the first What If…? episode yet.
The first instalment of the anthology series ends with a parallel sacrifice to the original Captain America movie – though this time, it’s Peggy giving up everything to save the world while Steve is left behind, and instead of being frozen in ice she’s pulled through an inter-dimensional portal as she fights off a tentacled monster.
However, like Steve she finds herself in the 21st century with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), bemoaning what she’d left behind even as she looks forward to an uncertain future. Said future seems likely to unfold in future episodes of What If…?, with Atwell rumoured to reprise the role in later episodes of the series even as it moves on to other Sliding Doors moments in the MCU (by which we don’t mean storylines exclusively starring Gwyneth Paltrow).
Exactly how this will work is less clear, as it’s explicitly suggested that the Nick Fury and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) that Carter meets at the end are from her own universe rather than the main MCU, with Hawkeye recognising the famed World War Two hero instantly. Perhaps more interdimensional crossover is on the cards, with more of the alternate heroes (like Chadwick Boseman’s Star-Lord) crossing paths as the series continues.
And it might not even end there. Persistent online rumours have suggested that Atwell could also play Captain Carter in a future live-action Marvel project, specifically Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which may feature many alternate “variants” of Marvel characters we know and love (a concept already introduced in Disney Plus series Loki).
In which case, this quick animated introduction could be just the start of Peggy Carter’s next journey. The MCU has an opening for a new super-soldier, after all…
Marvel’s What If…? is streaming on Disney Plus, with new episodes released on Wednesdays. You can sign up to Disney Plus for £7.99 a month or £79.90 a year now. Learn more about the What If cast and read our What If review.