The tragic passing of Chadwick Boseman in 2020 devastated Hollywood, especially breaking the hearts of people who had fallen in love with the actor after his game-changing role as T’Challa in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Fortunately, fans of Boseman will have one more chance to see the late star take center stage within the sprawling superhero world — just not in the way we expected.
The MCU has released the first full look at What If...?, the next Disney+ original series slated for release after the Loki finale. What If...? leans into the now-confirmed concept of the multiverse, exploring a host of different realities storylines that might be possible within an ever-expanding universe. That means that many beloved MCU characters, past and present, will be making a return for the animated series, but they won’t appear as we remember them. What would have happened if Tony Stark (voiced by Robert Downey Jr.) had never become Iron Man, or if Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) had never taken the Super Soldier serum to become Captain America?
What If…? Also serves up twisted fate for Boseman’s T’Challa, plopping him into a different timeline in which he isn’t destined to become King of Wakanda; instead, the man-who-would-be-king becomes Star Lord, replacing Chris Pratt's Peter Quill as the space ravager who will be the future leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
The concept of the new Disney+ series is fascinating on its own, but it will likely also draw significant streaming numbers because it is Boseman’s official curtain call as the character of T’Challa. He died on August 28, 2020 after a private four-year battle with colon cancer right when the MCU had begun developing the follow-up to Black Panther. Boseman’s passing complicated plans for what might be the superhero franchise’s most anticipated sequel, raising questions about whether the story of Wakanda could still be told without its king. But the studio is moving forward with plans to continue the production; almost all of the previous cast is said to be returning to project, and writer/director Ryan Coogler has reportedly re-written the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever script five times to make sure that it honored Boseman's legacy and the beauty of Wakanda.
What If...? is being advertised as an epic, action-packed, time- and space-bending superhero event, but it will also be a meaningful memorial for fans still missing Boseman's presence in the MCU. No one ever really dies in the multiverse — they just take on a different form — and the late hero is no exception.
What If...? will be available for streaming starting August 11, 2021, only on Disney+.