When Chadwick Boseman passed away in August 2020, it was a shock to fans around the Marvel universe. With Black Panther 2 not yet underway, it seemed like the actor would never again be seen as T’Challa, the role that made him a household name. But it turns out, the actor had been working steadily, and part of that work included recording a voice performance of T’Challa for Marvel’s animated series, What If...? Now that the show is out, the tweets about Chadwick Boseman in What If...? reflect fans’ lingering sadness over the loss of the actor, mixed with their delight in hearing him play T’Challa one last time.
Warning: Spoilers for What If...? Season 1, Episode 2 follow. The irony of Boseman’s final performance happening in What If...? is that the series isn’t continuous with the hit Marvel Cinematic Universe films. Instead, they are alternate takes on the MCU’s stories.
For example, the first episode of What If...? asked the questions of what would have happened if Peggy Carter took the super-soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers? Episode 2 tells the story of what would have happened if the Ravagers accidentally kidnapped a young T’Challa instead of Peter Quill when Ego sent them to retrieve his son. According to this story, T’Challa — being far more competent than Quill — becomes famous as the unstoppable galactic outlaw mercenary known as Star-Lord.
The episode’s new timeline included other changes that have occurred due to the switch from Quill to T’Challa. For example, Thanos is so impressed with T’Challa that he not only reforms from the ultimate big bad but becomes a member of the Ravagers. Then, his wayward daughter Nebula becomes a mercenary who hires the crew to steal Embers of Genesis, cosmic dust that can solve galactic poverty from the galactic kingpin who rose in Thanos’ stead, Taneleer Tivan. As part of the adventure, T’Challa is kidnapped and discovers Wakanda has been looking for him ever since he disappeared. The episode concludes with T’Challa and the Ravagers heading back to Earth, where the Wakandan prince is reunited with his family.
Not only is it a feel-good story, but one where T’Challa gets to be an impressive fighter. As a tribute to the character, it was a perfect way to go out. The story, plus the bittersweet emotions of hearing Boseman once more, was almost too much for Twitter to take.
Add in the episode’s heartwarming dedication to the late actor, and the waterworks were unstoppable.
Chadwick Boseman is expected to appear as T’Challa in a few more episodes of this season in a supporting role, so fans should be ready for more variations on the character. What If...? continues with new episodes arriving every Wednesday on Disney+.