What If?

Marvel Just Quietly Rewrote MCU History For the Better

Captain Carter changes so much more than the Avengers line-up.

Captain Carter (voiced by Hayley Atwell) in Marvel's What If...?
Marvel Studios

Peggy Carter has become something of a focal point for Marvel’s What If...? She might be the character most affected by the multiverse, often for the better. After all, Hayley Atwell’s super spy was the first character remixed in What If Season 1, going from Steve Rogers’ spunky romantic foil to a super soldier in her own right. Now known as Captain Carter, Peggy is the de facto face of What If. She’s popped up in a handful of episodes to demonstrate just how different the universe might have been if she were the first Avenger. Now, thanks to a minor detail in Season 2, we know just how impactful her role as Captain Carter is across the MCU.

What If Season 2 Episode 5, titled “Captain Carter Fought the Hydra Stomper,” reframes the events of The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier from Peggy’s perspective. Her presence doesn’t only diversify the Avengers line-up, a fact proven by a blink-and-miss-it cameo from the Wasp (aka, Hope Van Dyne). According to executive producer A.C. Bradley, Captain Carter’s mere existence in this universe made it possible for Hope to become an Avenger at a younger age — and it changed a whole lot more.

Peggy’s role as the First Avenger led to a new addition to the super-team.

Marvel Studios

“Since a few people have asked: Yes, that’s Hope at the Battle of NY,” Bradley stated via Twitter.

The writer went on to explain just how her appointment was possible.

“Since Captain Carter — a woman — ended WW2, the feminist movement occurred immediately after the war. This had a ripple effect across society, leading to more female S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, heroes, & women in positions of authority.”

In Marvel’s main timeline, Peggy’s known as one of the founding members of S.H.I.E.L.D. But the Peggy that becomes Captain Carter was notably missing for 70 years. In her absence, the responsibility fell to Howard Stark, Bucky Barnes, and Hope’s parents, Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne. Janet was the Wasp before Hope, but her responsibilities at S.H.I.E.L.D. evidently led her to pass the mantle on to her daughter.

Though Captain Carter’s presence did a lot of good, she wasn’t able to save Steve Rogers.

Marvel Studios

Peggy’s role as Captain Carter didn’t just trigger an accelerated feminist movement. Since Bucky never became the Winter Soldier he was free to become “a Jimmy Carter-esque elder statesman,” as we see later in Episode 5. (Steve, unfortunately, takes on a Winter Soldier-type role instead.) Bucky’s happy ending also saved Howard Stark from a premature demise — and he didn’t take that for granted. Per Bradley, “Howard was a better father and had a closer relationship with his son.” Talk about a butterfly effect.

Bradley & Co. clearly put a lot of thought into the ramifications of Peggy’s universe. Her timeline is quickly becoming the most interesting that What If has explored. And it’s clear the creators are big fans of this world, so there’s every chance we’ll see much more of it in future installments of What If. Hopefully, though, Peggy’s story can continue in live-action one day. Atwell herself is certainly game, and with this character inspiring such a radically different universe, there are plenty of stories to tell.

What If...? Season 2 is currently streaming on Disney+.

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