Binge Watcher

What If? Episode 1 theory finally solves a huge Loki mystery

Captain Carter may be even more important than you think.

What If…? wouldn’t exist without Loki.

Marvel’s new animated original series finds the studio diving headfirst into its on-screen multiverse for the first time — which wouldn’t be possible had said multiverse not been created earlier this summer in the Season 1 finale of Loki.

As narrated by The Watcher (Jeffrey Wright), What If…? shows fans thrilling new versions of stories and characters from past Marvel Cinematic Universe titles, exploring many of the various alternate realities and timelines that now exist thanks to Sophia Di Martino’s Sylvie.

In case that wasn’t already exciting enough, one Marvel fan theory is suggesting What If…? Episode 1 has also solved one of the biggest lingering mysteries from Loki.

A Memorable Variant — The first episode of What If…? — titled “What If… Captain Carter Were The First Avenger?” — follows a version of Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) who became the world’s first Super Soldier instead of Steve Rogers (Chris Evans). It’s an interesting premiere — one that firmly establishes Atwell’s Captain Carter as a character worthy of continued exploration in the MCU.

TikTok user @wisconsindan also believes that the Peggy Carter we meet in What If…? Episode 1 is the same variant briefly seen being escorted into the Time Variance Authority’s headquarters in Loki’s premiere. The user speculates that Peggy’s decision to stay on the floor level as Steve underwent his Super Soldier transformation may have been her Nexus Event, the choice that ultimately opened the door for her to become Captain Carter in What If…?

That is to say that, while the TVA was still in operation, it likely pruned all the versions of Peggy who became Captain Carter. Now that the TVA has essentially been dissolved through the actions of Loki and Sylvie, that means the Peggy we see in What If…? Episode 1 could be the same variant glimpsed in Loki — only, in this reality, she wasn’t apprehended by the TVA.

The Peggy Carter variant from Loki Episode 1.Marvel Studios

Captain Carter’s Arrest — More than most Marvel titles, What If…? directly follows the series that preceded it. The mere fact that it’s a show about alternate realities means that Marvel fans can be rest assured all of its stories and characters (with the exception of The Watcher, maybe) exist solely because of what happened in Loki.

In that sense, it’s clear the version of Peggy we’re seeing in What If…? is a variant that would have been pruned by the TVA long before she went on to become Captain Carter.

As for whether the Peggy caught and captured by the TVA in Loki Episode 1 is the exact same Captain Carter variant followed in What If...?, that’s a little less clear. Loki Season 1 revealed that there can be multiple versions of the same variant, so it’s possible the Peggy we saw get brought in by the TVA had been captured over an entirely different Nexus Event that the decision Captain Carter made to stay in the room during Steve’s transformation.

Then again, it’s also possible this decision is exactly what brought the Peggy variant from Loki to the TVA’s attention.

Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell) in What If...? Episode 1.Marvel Studios

The Inverse Analysis — Until someone at Marvel officially confirms that the Peggy variant in Loki was one of the Captain Carter versions of the character, this will remain nothing more than fan speculation.

That doesn’t mean, however, that fans can’t choose to believe this theory is correct. In fact, we wouldn’t blame them if they did exactly that. It’s certainly the most fun explanation we can come up with for Loki’s ongoing Peggy Carter mystery, at least for the time being.

What If…? is streaming now on Disney+.