Now that the first episode of the much anticipated What If? has dropped on Disney+, it seems the Marvel multiverse is full steam ahead with a question that’s sure to please the moderns and tick off many of the trads, both in Marvel circles and Catholic ones: what if Capt. Peggy Carter were the first Avenger?
Personally, this is one I’m proud my daughters will get to watch, especially my eldest who is growing into a tough and independent young woman — and a pretty skilled martial artist. Interestingly, while the preview suggested that Steve Rogers’ getting shot was the cause of the variant Carter, the Watcher’s narration indicated otherwise. It was, in fact, her decision to stay near the action and not in the safety of her observation booth that created her branch in the timeline.
It’s notable who else was on the lab floor: all of them men. Her decision to stand as an equal to those mingling soldiers and bureaucrats was the key to becoming Captain Carter. Everything else that immediately followed — a Hydra assassin taking out Dr. Erskine and attempting to take out Steve — was bound to happen anyway.
Events that unfolded later in the show marked deeper departures from previous MCU canon and I don’t want to get into those plot points for fear of ruining the experience for you viewers. Suffice it to say that the episode satisfyingly demonstrated girl power for this father of four daughters — and did so, much like my second daughter, in a tiny package that packed a big punch. After more than a decade of previous MCU material, the fans already know the basics of the main timeline and didn’t need to be filled in on those details. This fact allowed the story to be told swiftly and effectively, without any drag or delay. Parallels to the established canon of events came along and came along often, providing a fun moments where Captain Carter’s single decision made all the difference. It was a joy to see these moments coming.
The animation style was a clean, colorful display in contrasts. Simplified shadows — common in the comic books — allowed for stark lines between light and dark that made characters and scenes all the more dramatic. I’m excited to see more. And I’m left wondering if Captain Carter ever got her dance with Steve.