What If…? Episode 2 is a wild ride through an alternate reality where Yondu (Michael Rooker) and his Ravager lackeys accidentally kidnap a young T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) from Earth instead of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt). It’s an episode filled with surprising Marvel Cinematic Universe references and twists, many of which come courtesy of its climactic exploration of The Collector’s (Benicio del Toro) gallery on Knowhere.
In addition to featuring a surprise reappearance from Howard the Duck (Seth Green), the episode also features one MCU Easter egg that may actually double as a bridge to the plot of next year’s Thor: Love and Thunder.
A Stylish Choice — Titled “What If… T’Challa Became a Star-Lord?”, Episode 2 climaxes with a showdown between T’Challa and The Collector. The fight turns out to be more difficult than fans might expect, too, with the latter character utilizing a handful of the weapons he’d previously acquired for his gallery to his advantage. The items are all weapons from previous Marvel films, including Captain America’s shield and a severed arm that may or may not have belonged to Korg (Taika Waititi).
However, The Collector's most powerful and unexpected weapon in the episode actually turns out to be the helmet worn by Hela (Cate Blanchett) in 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok. Donning the helmet, The Collector manifests a sword in his hand before telling T’Challa, “A necrosword, courtesy of the Asgardian Goddess of Death.”
It’s a notable moment, especially because the central villain in Thor: Love and Thunder uses a weapon known as “All-Black the Necrosword” in the comics.
One Step Closer to Gorr — Of all the many famous faces set to appear in Thor: Love and Thunder, one of the most noteworthy is Christian Bale, who is starring as the film’s primary antagonist, Gorr the God Butcher. Based on the Marvel comics character of the same name, the villain promises to be a formidable foe for Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and the rest of the film’s heroes.
After waiting for several months, fans finally got their first look at what Bale’s Gorr will look like in Love and Thunder just a few weeks ago. However, while we now have a general idea of his appearance in the film, it’s still unclear if he’ll wield the same weapon on-screen as his comic book counterpart does.
Gorr only becomes the “God Butcher” in the comics after bonding with an evil weapon known as “All-Black the Necrosword.” The universe’s first symbiote, the sword, was created by an evil being known as Knull before he was unexpectedly abandoned one day by the weapon in favor of Gorr. It’s a powerful sword, and given the vital role it plays in Gorr’s villainous origin story, one has to assume that it’ll be included in Thor: Love and Thunder.
With that in mind, it’s possible that the acknowledgment of Hela creating necroswords in What If…? Episode 2 could mean a few different things. For starters, it could just be Marvel’s way of refreshing viewers about what a “necrosword” is (and how powerful they can be) in preparation for All-Black the Necrosword’s debut in Thor: Love and Thunder.
Alternatively, the reappearance of Hela’s helmet could be a clue from Marvel that Gorr’s screen origin story will be altered a bit from how it is in the comics. That is to say, Gorr may come into possession of his powerful weapon not by stumbling upon a dying being known as Knull but by harnessing the power of Hela’s helmet. Either a version of it survived Asgard’s destruction in Thor: Ragnarok, or a still-intact one exists in an alternate reality.
The Inverse Analysis — As of now, there’s no telling how different Thor 4 writer-director Taika Waititi’s version of Gorr the God Butcher will be from the character in the comics. In fact, it’s entirely possible that Waititi isn’t actually including All-Black the Necrosword, or any version of it, in the highly-anticipated MCU sequel.
Assuming the Love and Thunder filmmaker does use some spin on the weapon in the film, though, the mention of a necrosword in What If…? Episode 2 just feels far too notable for being nothing more than a random Easter egg. It feels like an intentional nod to Thor: Love and Thunder, and for what it’s worth, making Hela’s helmet the source of Gorr’s power would be a brilliant way for Marvel to connect the upcoming sequel back to Thor: Ragnarok.
What If…? is streaming now on Disney+.