The Marvel Cinematic Universe began with one mission: adapt the Marvel Comics into a film franchise. Without a doubt, it succeeded. But as the MCU — and superhero movies in general — reach a dangerous crossroads, the franchise needs some fresh blood.
While characters are still getting plucked from the page and onto the screen every year, the adaptations are getting looser and the envelope keeps getting pushed. All this experimentation has led to What If...? Season 2 Episode 6, which finally does something the MCU has somehow avoided for its entire existence: creating a completely original hero.
The episode (titled, “What If…Kahhori Reshaped the World?”) follows Kahhori, a young Mohawk woman living in pre-colonial America. While fleeing from Spanish conquistadors, Kahhori stumbles on the “forbidden lake,” an underground body of water infused with the power of the Tesseract. After diving into it to escape, she wakes up in an alternate reality with fellow Mohawk people infused with superpowers. While Kahhori is happy just training and living among this new tribe, she knows the world she came from is in trouble. Through honing her power, she manages to travel back and defend her people.
Voiced by Canadian Mohawk actress Devery Jacobs, Kahhori is the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first completely original hero. While other heroes have been transformed from their original versions, Kahhori is built completely from the ground up. Much like Echo, whose own show premieres in January 2024, Kahhori provides much-needed Indigenous representation to the MCU, and her introduction in What If allows her to exist in a universe where colonization could actually be avoided.
It’s a huge risk, but it pays off. Kahhori’s powers are derived from an Infinity Stone, but they’re also about being one with the environment, something that’s a cornerstone of Indigenous culture. It corrects a blindspot in the MCU but also creates a character who comes from a completely different time and culture, one that doesn’t have to be made up like Atlantis, Wakanda, and Asgard.
Kahhori may not exist in the main timeline at this point, but she’s broken new ground for the MCU. So now all bets are off. In the future, we could see any character become a full-fledged hero, be they an adaptation of a comic figure or someone created just for the movies. Who knows, we may even see the tables turn and see Marvel comics start adapting new characters like Kahhori.