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Marvel's What If...? Writer Clears Up Apparent Star-Lord Plot Hole In T'Challa Episode

T'Challa/Star-Lord prepares to remove his helmet on Marvel's What If...? (2021)

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Spoilers for the latest episode of Marvel’s What If…? “What If... T'Challa Became a Star-Lord?” lie ahead.

So far, Marvel’s What If…?, the first animated production to be connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is proving to be a success. Viewers seem to be taken by the show’s reimaginings, which include variations (or variants) of fan-favorite characters. The latest episode introduced fans to a version of T’Challa who, instead of becoming the Black Panther, was raised by the Ravagers and dubbed Star-Lord. The scenario made for a fresh and upbeat tale, but some fans were quick to point out an apparent plot hole. Now, the show’s head writer is trying to clear up any confusion.

After the episode aired, What If…? watchers (no pun intended) noted that Guardians of the Galaxy’s Peter Quill gained the name Star-Lord from his late mother. And as a result, many argued that there would be no reason T’Challa would naturally earn the nickname. Head writer A.C. Bradley seems to have known the critique was coming, and she recently explained her rationale for the creative decision:

And before someone on Twitter tells me that Star-Lord was the nickname that Peter Quill’s mom gave to him, the reason he’s called Star-Lord is that we were guessing that Yondu knew that Star-Lord was also the nickname of Ego. That [Meredith Quill] called Peter Star-Lord because she knew Ego was not human. And so that’s how the word was in the ether that Yondu was aware of it and he started calling Peter almost as a fun joke. And then it kind of just kept going, and T’Challa doesn’t like the title. Because he’s just a regular guy trying to do good. He’s not royalty, as far as he knows.

So A.C. Bradley asserted to Discussing Film that Star-Lord was also the nickname of Peter Quill’s father, Ego, and that in the main timeline, Yondu called Quill that as a joke. And in What If…?, Yondu still holds onto the nickname but applies it to T’Challa. All in all, Bradley and her team’s thinking is relatively solid. While it may not fly for some die-hard fans, others shouldn’t have too much of a problem with it. After all, this little detail doesn’t hold a candle to some of the MCU’s rare, but significant, story errors or continuity mistakes.

Even though some may still argue about the logic behind it, most would likely agree that T’Challa bore the title of Star-Lord well. The former prince of Wakanda had a positive impact on the Ravagers during his time with them, effectively transforming the group from a gang of criminals into a band of do-gooders. Some of T’Challa’s positivity even managed to rub off on hardened MCU villains like Taserface and Thanos. All in all, the episode proved to be a terrific tribute to the Black Panther character, as well as his actor, Chadwick Boseman. The episode is available to stream on Disney+, which you can sign up for using this link.

A.C. Bradley’s thinking on the Star-Lord conundrum seems to indicate that she and her writing staff put a lot of thought into the decisions they made. It’ll be intriguing to see how those choices play out on the show, as Jeffrey Wright’s The Watcher continues to guide viewers through the multiverse in the weeks to come.

Marvel’s What If…? drops new episodes Wednesdays on Disney+.

Erik Swann

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.