The second episode of Marvel’s What If…? ran much further with the concept than the premiere, which was largely a rehash of Captain America: The First Avenger with Steve Rogers swapped out for Peggy Carter. The sophomore installment riffed on Guardians of the Galaxy, but took some huge liberties with the narrative fans first became familiar with in James Gunn’s 2014 blockbuster.
As sad as it was to hear the late Chadwick Boseman voicing T’Challa, the story itself was a hoot. A much different Star-Lord than Peter Quill, the Wakandan native interacted with plenty of familiar characters, but not in the way audiences were used to them. Nebula was a femme fatale, Korath the Pursuer was a giddy fanboy and Drax the Destroyer was a bartender, but the biggest deviation from the script came in the form of Josh Brolin’s Thanos.
No longer a cold, calculating monster seeking to wipe out half of all living creatures with a click of his fingers, What If…?’s Mad Titan was a much more benevolent presence that even managed to joke about his genocidal plans and bond with his adopted daughter. In a new interview, creator A.C. Bradley teased what the future may hold for the new and improved Thanos.
“It came from a few places. We were writing it with Endgame coming out in a matter of weeks, or months. We’d already seen it. And so the Thanos question was looming large. And to be honest, we don’t really play around with Thanos in the rest of the series, because we did it so well here answering the Thanos question, which is, ‘Does this universe still have the snap?’. So we decided that like, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if T’Challa just had a conversation with the man and convinced him that like, you know, genocide is not the answer’. And that was almost like a joke that we were tossing around. But then it gave us so many gifts, which is, without Thanos, there’s a power vacuum. And, you know, nature abhors a vacuum, so the Collector gains prominence.”
Viewers were sent into a state of shock when Thanos first appeared in Episode 2, and while the reactions tended to be fairly polarizing online after what they’d seen him do at the tail end of the Infinity Saga, it’s given the former villain a brand new lease of creative life that Marvel’s What If…? can explore in even greater detail as part of Season 2.