The Marvel Cinematic Universe started when Tony Stark was kidnapped by the Ten Rings in Afghanistan. It forced him to figure a way out, and adopt a better life as a super hero instead of a weapons mogul.
Again, the Watcher rewrites that moment: what if Stark got rescued by a Navy Seal….who has a hidden agenda and history?
This is the start of a beautiful friendship…which becomes a sudden but inevitable betrayal.
Yet, the episode ends with hope, unlike the past two weeks.
If anyone makes this episode, it’s Michael B. Jordan as Navy Seal Erik Stevens aka N’Jadaka and Erik Killmonger. He does a great job making himself compelling in animation as in the Black Panther movie. Click here for his story, His style is making friends with the oppressors before striking, as he does with Stark and Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis). The episode doesn’t directly point out T’Chaka accidentally killed KM’s dad (who was accused of betraying Wakanda), but Killmonger says his dad died of “gang violence”. It does hint he will deal with T’Chaka eventually.
It’s basically one long con. Killmonger acts as if he’s Stark’s savior in Afghanistan, and soon his best friend when he reveals Obadiah Stane was about to betray Stark (which he was). Killmonger is soon the COO for Stark’s company, and they decide to build better weapons. The episode shows Stark as the hard-drinking bad boy with a constant trail of bad quips. Pepper Potts and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) are there to keep Stark in line, but Killmonger never gives them the chance. That’s important.
Stark and Killmonger come up with combat drones, but Stark needs an ideal energy source. Killmonger suggests getting some Vibranium through Klaue, which is really illegal. They decide to send Colonel Rhodes (Don Cheadle) as the go-between.
Suddenly, they’re attacked by T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) as Black Panther, but Killmonger kills him and Rhodes with a sonic weapon.
Naturally, Stark has no idea…or does he?
Turns out his AI, JARVIS, has proof that Killmonger killed to get the vibranium, and it looks like he’ll be taken down by a new drone. Killmonger, though, gets rid of it and Stark.
The toughest part is Stark trying to tell Killmonger, “Two gear-head orphans, trying to do right by our fathers?”
Both men are doing it the wrong way. Stark made bigger weapons, while Killmonger sought revenge at any cost.
His next step is an invasion of Wakanda to “avenge” the murders, although Pepper still suspects him. Too bad she’s ignored more than Peggy Carter after the war (for a while).
Again, Killmonger plays it well. Klaue gets to Wakanda to finish the deal over the stolen vibranium, but Killmonger kills him. He takes the body to the Dora Milaje and reveals his true name. It’s all part of his plan to be welcomed back as the son of a Prodigal Brother.
He says he can stop the drones thanks to Wakanda tech, and he does. However, he’s able to turn them back on, and say it was Stark’s doing. It’s all going to plan.
The Wakandan army, led by Killmonger, demolishes the drones. Seeing Killmonger stab a drone, right on Stark’s logo, sends a message that Killmonger will be the new defender of Wakanda.
What is really means is that he wants to defeat the “oppressors”, and will use any means and weapons to do that. He says he wants his “brothers” to share in what Wakanda has to offer, but for how long?
He even gets to be the new Black Panther, thanks to T’Chaka. It is a new day for Wakanda, but it (the country, that is) really belongs to Erik Killmonger.
It would be interesting to see “what if” he succeeded, and became the Ultimate Oppressor.
Still, when he reaches the Land of the Dead, the ghost of T’Challa tells him that power that isn’t earned can be volatile. “It will get the best of you,” he warns, “eventually, on your plane or on ours.”
How? Pepper finds out as Shuri gives her proof Killmonger did kill Stark and Rhodes. This happens just as the US plans another invasion on Wakanda.
Oh, and Shuri is a technical genius, probably better than Stark. She and Pepper might come up with a plan to beat Killmonger after all.
The episode is almost like the premiere, where one role is taken by another. Stark was supposed to use his skills to get out of Afghanistan, and that led to him being a super-hero. By letting Erik Killmonger be the hero, he uses that chance to seem like a hero, but actually grab a chance at revenge for his father. Thus, one hero is lost, and another plans to enter the dark side because he’s entitled.
Actually, Killmonger is spoiled like Stark, not by money but by vengeance. What’s forgotten is that Killmonger’s dad betrayed his country for the wrong reasons. Now his son thinks he can finish the job.
Also, the ones who can stop them are people who are just not noticed. Did anyone in the Wakandan Royal Family know Shuri was that smart?
No wonder she wants help from another ignored woman, who has power everyone forgot.
By the way, the mid-season trailer that was released on You Tube suggests familiar faces will be back, especially T’Challah/Star Lord and Captain Carter…and maybe some surprises.
When? Sooner than we think.
What If airs new episodes every Wednesday on Disney Plus