Disney’s What If…? has finally premiered and its first episode, “What if…Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?” is everything I could have hoped it would be. As the self-proclaimed biggest Peggy Carter fan, it’s great to get to see her shine in a way where her name is honored and remembered.
Insert, my villain origin story always being the detail that people seem to often ignore just how much she has to overcome at a time where women weren’t granted voices in order to make the S.S.R. a better place. At the height of all, by some, she is often forgotten while by others, she is resorted into merely a love interest.
But Margaret “Peggy” Carter has always been so much more.
She has been a riveting figure of hope and a beacon of joy to me since the moment she graced our screens in Captain America: The First Avenger, and What If…? rewarding her with a memorable shot is everything that I needed.
In short, Captain Carter’s journey, much like Steve Rogers’ own timeline is short. She makes the same kind of sacrifice against Red Skull then wakes up almost 70 years later to a war that was won and all kinds of losses now in place.
The world she was meant to live in, the life she was meant to live all cut short. But the exploration of possibilities that What If…? brings forth is brilliant in allowing us to get glimpses of our favorite characters in different worlds. It’s fun, it’s exhilarating, and the animation is remarkable in building a new universe that’s beautiful. (And to geek out for a moment, so freaking cool.)
In any universe, no matter her position, as a woman Peggy is going to have the kind of struggles that men don’t often go through, and it was thrilling to see her bond with this different version of Steve (and Bucky). It’s beautiful still to know that whatever universe they find themselves in, there will always be a version of Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter falling in love.
Captain Carter taking the super serum works just as effectively as Steve Rogers doing so because in the same way, Peggy’s heart has always been in the right place. She has never searched for glory or a win, but she has searched for solutions and means of making the world a better place.
She has always wanted to do better, for those she has cared about, and the world around her.
It doesn’t have to be complicated and the purpose of What If…? really simplifies multiverses in what they could actually be—stories that touch on the parts of humanity that matter. Stories that touch each of us in different ways, versions of characters we know and love, flipped and reversed. It’s masterful in storytelling because it’s free to do whatever it pleases.
It seems as though the Marvel Cinematic Universe often forgets Agent Carter canon existed, and while I’ll always be here to remind everyone of the fact that the show was brilliant from start to finish, What If…? is just as remarkable in what it can do for our favorite characters. In a myriad of ways, Captain Carter is like the best kind of FanFiction with gorgeously stunning storytelling.
It works because there are no rules. It’s honest, vulnerable, beautifully captivating, and Peggy Carter is just as layered as the superhero, Captain Carter as she was while an agent at the S.S.R. She can be big and buff, but she can also be deeply vulnerable. She can be a superwoman and still keep her humanity intact while focusing on the parts of her that are relatable to all of us.
Captain Carter, much like a number of the exemplary women in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, proves that women can be all things. They can, and will always be, the most incredibly complex beings. They can be kind and badass. They can be vulnerable and strong. They can be superheroes and humans. They can be layers of relatable heartaches that don’t always have the right answers, but in every situation try their best to do what is right.
What If…? reimagines the universe as we know it and temporarily flips it with wonderful balance. It’s promising and thrilling, it’s familiar and new, and frankly, it’s something we should keep doing just because it can be so fun. (And isn’t that something we can all use in the world these days?)
P.S. Imagine Captain Carter fighting alongside all the badass women in Avengers: Infinity War. What I would give to see that.
What are your thoughts on “What If…? Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?”