In what was inarguably their most innovative and inspired creative choice, the team behind What If…? produced an entire episode set in Kanien’kehá:ka and featuring members of the Mohawk Wolf Clan including the MCU’s first original hero, Kahhori. An episode that features the kind of unbridled creativity that helped make Marvel’s publishing house known as the House of Ideas, “What If…Kahhori Reshaped the World?” was an achievement four years in the making that required a vast collaborative effort. The end result is an episode with not only original characters but also an original, in-universe mythology rooted in the culture of the First Nations’ people. In an official production brief, executive producer and episode director Bryan Andrews and writer Ryan Little provided some insight into the creation “What If…Kahhori Reshaped the World?”.
The episode imagines a universe in which the Tesseract fell to Earth from Asgard and shattered upon impact allowing the Space Stone inside to imbue a lake in New York in North America’s Haudenosaunee Confederacy with its powers. That Forbidden Lake became a portal to another dimension known as the Skyworld where members of the Mohawk nation existed utopically away from the growing dangers of European colonization. According to Andrews, though the episode didn’t appear until the second season of What If…?, the episode was devised when he first boarded the project.
Writer Ryan Little backed Andrews‘ claim and gave some insight into the work that went into putting the episode together over the last four years. “We spent four years working with historical and language experts from Kanien’kehá:ka, the Mohawk Nation, to craft this episode.” In the episode, members of the Mohawk Nation speak to one another only in Kanien’kéha, their native language, allowing for a much more authentic representation of the people and their culture. It didn’t end with language, however, as the studio’s collaboration with historian Doug George and Mohawk language expert Cecelia King factored into every creative decision in the episode according to Little. “They collaborated with us on every layer of the story from the characters’ names, personalities and costumes to the look of the civilization and the surrounding wilderness to make every facet of this episode the most accurate depiction possible.”
The end result was a strikingly beautiful episode that has been well-received by the Mohawk community according to Jeremy White, who voiced another one of the episode’s original heroes, Atahraks.
The first seven episodes of Season 2 of What If…? are now streaming on Disney Plus and a new episode will be released every day through December 30th.