‘What If…?’ Episode 5 Treads Too Closely to Familiar Ground

In an infinite multiverse, an infinite number of stories exist including those that might be incredibly similar to others…but that doesn’t mean they need to be told. Episode 5 of the second season of What If…? is, unfortunately, such a story. The episode, “What If…Captain Carter Fought the Hydra Stomper?”–much like its predecessor, “What If…Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?”–treads far too closely to the familiar ground of the Captain America franchise rather than allowing the character the opportunity to blaze her own trail.

While it’s logical that early parts of Peggy Carter’s story might mirror that of Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger, in the vastness of the Multiverse it would seem that another Variant of Captain Carter would have gotten up to something more interesting than another 70 years of adventures that end up with her simply continuing to step into the footprints first put down by Rogers on the Sacred Timeline. After founding the Avengers and taking down Loki, Carter’s next chapter as seen in Episode 5 paralleled Rogers’ so closely that the working title for it was “The Winter Widow”, as revealed by writer A.C. Bradley.

Peggy ends up on the other end of the car joke from the Winter Solider, finds herself aboard a ship at sea and even ends up sharing a scene with Brock Rumlow. A brainwashed Steve takes the place of a brainwashed Bucky and the Red Room and Melina Vostokoff take the place of Hydra but right down to pairing her up with Nat, the episode just keeps giving Peggy things to do that Steve has already done. Carter is the lead of the series and this particular Variant seems destined to make a live-action appearance down the road (one Variant made a brief appearance in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness). The character deserves her own story.

Fortunately, the creative team remedies the situation and sets the character on what’s hopefully a singular path by plucking Captain Carter out of her modern-day setting and dropping her in 1602 where she’ll have a major role in the two-part season finale. With a new head writer set to take over for Season 3, here’s to hoping they find something more original and exciting for Peggy to do than to star in the slightly altered Reader’s Digest version of Captain Carter: Civil War.

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