What If…? has opened up a multiverse of endless possibilities for fan favorite MCU characters and episode 2 featured one of the most highly anticipated variants. T’Challa as Star Lord had a massive impact on the universe at large in a way that Peter Quill never did. This universal shift begins with T’Challa completely changing the Ravagers from the criminals that MCU fans met in the Guardians of the Galaxy into cosmic heroes.
The Ravagers were first introduced in Guardians of the Galaxy as interstellar pirates working as thieves, smugglers, and mercenaries. Although Yondu and his crew, the main ravagers featured in Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, are not technically part of the larger Ravagers syndicate.
Yondu lost his place among the Ravagers after abducting children for Ego which breaks the code that “Ravagers don’t deal in kids.” This banishment led Yondu and his crew to taking on even more unsavory jobs and becoming some of the most vicious Ravagers in the galaxy. Yondu managed to redeem himself by saving Peter Quill in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but only by sacrificing his life.
T’CHALLA BECAME THE INTERGALACTIC ROBIN HOOD AND THE RAVAGERS HIS MERRY MEN
With T’Challa’s influence the Ravagers became heroes in their own right saving countless planets and civilizations. T’Challa became a Robin Hood type figure with the Ravagers taking on the role of his Merry Men. Yondu is no longer a captain who was somewhat cruel in how he raised Peter, holding it over the boy’s head that he stopped the crew from eating him and thus Peter owes him in exchange for this kindness.
His crew is no longer full of the most ruthless bandits who are willing to not only mutiny, but kill the crew members who were loyal to their captain. Instead Yondu and his crew proudly wear the colors and the moniker of Ravager and have completely changed the perception of what a Ravager is in the universe. With Yondu and his crew not being the only Ravagers in the universe, it seems that T’Challa may have influenced all of the Ravagers. The Ravagers as a whole seem to be recognized as heroes who work against criminals like intergalactic kingpin, The Collector.
T’Challa managed to take a group of child traffickers and change them into intergalactic heroes who happily and proudly work to save those who cannot save themselves. T’Challa himself is also changed by growing up with the Ravagers keeping the nobility, leadership, and strategic mind of the MCU’s Black Panther, but he has a roguish charm and incorporates the mind of a criminal into his strategy planning heists to defeat his enemies. T’Challa is truly the intergalactic Robin Hood using his skills and smarts as an outlaw for the good of others and with this he managed to do something that no other hero ever has.
T’Challa did the impossible by saving the universe from the machinations of the Mad Titan without a single weapon. In the second episode of What If…? it is revealed that Thanos has joined the Ravagers, following T’Challa and searching for a new less lethal way to reallocate the universe’s resources. Thanos is infamous for believing that wiping out half the universe was the only way to save the surviving half. In his quest he defeated the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy during their initial confrontation and succeeded in his mission.
However, in this universe T’Challa did something no one else ever has, he changed Thanos’ mind. T’Challa defeated one of the most dangerous and powerful individuals in the universe with a conversation. It seems that T’Challa came across Thanos somewhat early in his plans with Nebula being Thanos’ only adopted child and lacking the seemingly endless cybernetic “enhancements”. The timing of when T’Challa confronted Thanos may play an important part in why the Mad Titan changed his tune. Had one of the Avengers, even T’Challa himself, attempted this in Infinity War Thanos likely would have been too committed to carrying out his plans to be stopped being in the final phases of succeeding.
What If…? head writer AC Bradley has said that T’Challa is a character who changes the world around him instead of being changed by the world he is in. And this proves true throughout the episode from the smallest detail, like Drax’s home and family surviving, to the biggest and most shocking changes with Thanos leaving behind his quest to erase half of all living things across the universe. But it all started with how he changed the Ravagers.
By changing the Ravagers he changed the entire universe. Without being raised by the Ravagers, T’Challa would lack the roguish and cunning of an outlaw that helped him defeat the Collector, steal the power stone, and more than likely convince Thanos to change his ways. The truth is Robin Hood is nothing without his Merry Men even in the MCU.
What did you think of the second episode of What If…? Did you like a more roguish T’Challa and more noble Ravagers? What did you think about T’Challa winning over Thanos? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or on our social media and check back with The Illuminerdi for more MCU and What If…? Be sure to join us for our Marvel Watch Along Tuesdays at 11:40pm PT on The Illuminerdi YouTube channel.