What If...? Ep 1 Takeaways: Captain Peggy Carter takes center stage with Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes in tow
*SPOILERS ALERT* After satiating MCU fans' appetite with one treat after another in 2021 - WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki - the latest Disney+ offering by Marvel is What If...?. When announced, fans rejoiced as the storyline possibilities for the diverse, verse characters were limitless. In the first episode, the question posed by The Watcher (Jeffrey Wright) is; What If... Captain Peggy Carter Were the First Avenger?
Giving the OG Captain America, Steve Rogers (not Chris Evans but Josh Keaton), a run for his money, Hayley Atwell reprises (in voice!) her fan-favourite character, Peggy, who takes up the shield as Captain Carter. Instead of Steve, it's Peggy who is given the super-soldier serum and the mighty physical transformation is admirable, indeed. As for Steve, it's Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) and not his son Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), who makes an Iron Man-style Hydra Stomper for a frail-looking Rogers to use. Together, Peggy and Steve are a force to be reckoned with. Also, did we forget to mention, an uncharacteristically hilarious Bucky Barnes, who is another beloved Marvel character, actually stays alive in this alternate reality?
Here are the five takeaways from What If...? Ep 1:
Say aloha to Captain a**-kicking Peggy Carter
Similar to the events of Captain America: The First Avenger, with World War II as the setting, it's Steve Rogers who was assigned to be given the super soldier serum. However, when a Hydra spy intervenes and almost kills Steve, Peggy volunteers herself and is reluctantly given the serum instead. Unsurprisingly, Peggy's physical transformation is magnificent and compliments her quick-witted personality to a t. Amid the blatant sexism, Peggy manages to stamp her foot, proving her worth with every mission, and possibly doing a better job than even Steve did. Like we needed another reason to be bowled over by Peggy Carter!
Steve Rogers is Captain Carter's perfect partner as Hydra Stomper
Even without his physical transformation to Captain America, Steve Rogers still stands his own ground while humbly being Peggy's trusted confidante. This time around, thanks to the tesseract being in Howard's experimental hands, the first prototype of sorts when it comes to Iron Man's armour is instead created way before Tony was even born. Deemed as Hydra Stomper, Steve immediately gets to work. This goes to show that, with or without the super soldier serum, Rogers is still a hero.
Bucky Barnes doesn't die
MCU fans are well aware of what happens to Bucky Barnes in Captain America's first instalment, what with his heartbreaking death and becoming Winter Soldier. Hence, when the dreaded train scene arrived in What If...? Ep 1, we were gearing up for the inevitable. However, Peggy saves Bucky from bludgeoning to his death and it's Steve, who apparently died (he doesn't!) due to a bomb blast. Moreover, Bucky gets his own What If... version to; What If... Bucky Barnes was funny? "You almost ripped my arm off," Bucky quips at Peggy. Way to traumatise us, Marvel! Also, Hail Bucky!
Peggy Carter and Steve Rogers' first dance remains incomplete
With Peggy taking over the Captain America mantle, the final battle which sees Captain Carter and the returning Steve as Hydra Stomper battling Red Skrull's (Ross Marquand) unleashed creature, Carter sacrifices herself and forces the creature back into the tesseract. Even though Peggy and Steve's chemistry remains intact despite the role reversal, they still don't have their first dance.
Nick Fury and Hawkeye's cameos
With Peggy's sacrifice, she eventually lands up back on Earth, only it's 2011, and she immediately encounters Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) just like Steve does in The Avengers. After Clint Barton immediately recognises her as Captain Carter, Peggy's first question is, "Where's Steve Rogers," to which Nick sadly informs her, "The war ended almost 70 years ago. You going to be okay?" To this, Peggy gives a bittersweet reply: "Of course. We won the war." And that kids is how Peggy Carter becomes the first Avenger.
Side Note: In a befitting conclusion, The Watcher narrates: "Her one choice gave birth to a whole new history and gave the multiverse a new hero." We're already loving Jeffrey's pitch-perfect narration, which doesn't overstay its welcome.
Peggy as Captain Carter, we're with you till the end of the line! We can't wait to see how the rest of What If...?'s episodes unfold!
Which was your favourite moment from What If...? Ep 1? Share your personal picks with Pinkvilla in the comments section below.
Meanwhile, What If...? Ep 2 will be out on August 18.