One of the most intriguing concepts for What If...? just turned out to be a bit of a dud. Unlike a Stark Industries Jericho Missile, the story of what happens if Killmonger saves Tony Stark in 2008’s Iron Man isn’t particularly explosive, but it does offer an interesting preview of what’s to come in Marvel’s movie sequel, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
What If Episode 6, explained
The title sort of says it all. “What if Killmonger saved Tony Stark?” The answer, it turns out, isn’t too different from the plot of Black Panther. The biggest change to this multiverse is that Tony never becomes Iron Man. Instead, after he’s saved by Killmonger, he hires the trained assassin on the spot, and the unlikely duo works together to build an army of killer Gundam drones. (What could go wrong?)
But that’s not the important part of this episode.
While Tony is building killer robots, Killmonger is carrying out a complex plot of his own that involves betraying everyone in sight and playing both sides of a conflict between Wakanda and the United States that he fabricates himself. In the end, he wins the trust of the Wakanda royal family (minus T’Challah, who he secretly killed) and becomes the new Black Panther.
But that’s not the end of the story. Just before the credits roll, we see Shuri pay a visit to Pepper Potts, and the two hatch a plan to take down Killmonger and expose his crimes.
What If and Black Panther 2
The biggest question heading into Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is an obvious one: Who will succeed T’Challah? (And before you ask, no, I’m not suggesting Marvel will bring back Killmonger and hand him the keys to Wakanda.)
Various leaks and rumors suggest that T’Challah’s sister Shuri will be the one to take the throne, and What If seems to confirm her as T’Challah’s likely successor. After all, Shuri is the only one capable of seeing through Killmonger’s lies in What If. So whatever happens in Black Panther 2, she’ll likely be the best equipped to handle that threat as well.
Of course, this assumes Disney can overlook the anti-vaccination views espoused by Shuri actress Letitia Wright. In December 2000, Wright shared an anti-vaxxer video on Twitter. When fans responded critically, she tweeted, "If you don’t conform to popular opinions. but ask questions and think for yourself….you get cancelled.”
Wright later deleted those tweets and shared a new statement partially walking back her earlier message without admitting any fault. Since then, she’s seemingly stayed quiet on the topic. For Disney, that might be enough.
There’s no denying that Shuri would make an excellent Black Panther, though whether fans will accept Wright remains unclear. In the meantime, What If makes a strong case that the character is ready to step into the role in Black Panther 2.
What If...? is streaming now on Disney+.