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What If Episode 1 sets up a surprising new team leader for Avengers 5

Marvel's animated anthology could matter way more than you think.

The next time the Avengers assemble, it’s going to be a very different team. Iron Man is dead. Black Widow is dead. Captain America is an old man possibly living in a different dimension. And Hawkeye is about to retire. Avengers 5 is a movie in need of a leader, and What If...? may have just given us an unexpected answer.

Warning! Spoilers ahead for What If Episode 1.

The What If series premiere introduces a bold new hero into the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Captain Carter. In an alternate timeline where things go sideways at the procedure where Steve Rogers was supposed to become Captain America, Peggy defies orders and steps into the machine herself. (It’s that, or let the entire expensive experiment go to waste.)

She steps out moments later as a hulking Amazon but is quickly chewed out by an idiotic military leader for breaking protocol and for being a woman in general. But that doesn't stop Howard Stark from seeing the potential in Peggy. He gives her Cap’s iconic shield, now painted with the British flag instead of the stars and stripes. (Don’t worry, Steve Rogers gets a proto-Iron Man suit. So he’s not out of the picture either.)

Captain Carter is born.Marvel

The rest of What If Episode 1 is an entertaining retelling of Captain America: The First Avenger with some very obvious changes. However, some things stay the same. At the end of the episode, after Red Skull summons a terrifying Cthulu-esque monster, Peggy is forced to step through an interdimensional portal to help contain it. It’s a scene reminiscent of Iron Man’s almost-sacrifice in The Avengers, but what happens next is straight out of Captain America.

When the dust settles, Peggy Carter escapes from the monster’s universe to find herself in the same Hydra castle but at a very different time. She then comes face to face with Nick Fury, who tells her that it’s been 70 years since she fought in World War II.

Captain America went into the ice. Captain Carter went into the multiverse.

Which brings us to Avengers 5...

Avengers 5: Captain Carter

Captain Carter realizes she’s a woman out of time.Marvel

In The Avengers, Steve came out of hibernation exactly when Nick Fury needed him. Is it possible the same thing is happening at the end of What If? Episode 1.

What if the animated Fury we just saw is the one of the MCU’s main timeline and he’s summoned Captain Carter to his dimension to help take on Kang the Conqueror or some other existential threat?

We already know for a fact that Captain Carter will show up again in What If. Marvel seems to be setting her up as a recurring character. Will she eventually make the jump from animation to live-action?

That may seem like a leap, but What If’s creators have already said their show is canon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And if anyone could figure out how to get Captain Carter into Avengers 5, it’s Nick Fury.

Nick Fury in What If...?Marvel

What If...? is streaming now on Disney+.