What If’s First Season Almost Had More Gamora, and Led to a Star-Lord T’Challa Spinoff

What If’s First Season Almost Had More Gamora, and Led to a Star-Lord T’Challa Spinoff
Unfortunate circumstances mean that T'Challa's reign of Star-Lord won't continue as planned. (Screenshot: Marvel Studios)
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While What If’s season one finale finally brought into the fold one of its most promising characters, a variant of Gamora known for slaying Thanos, there was something rather curious about how the character arrived. As planned-out in advance as Marvel projects tend to be, there was no way that What If’s creative team could have seen how the situation with its Gamora variant coming, but as they continue working on the show’s second season, they’re already planning to make things right.

What If’s season one finale, “What If… the Watcher Broke His Oath?”, follows the Watcher as he reaches across the multiverse to pluck the different heroic variants he needs to stop an almost all-powerful version of Ultron from murdering everyone in multiple realities. Most of the variants the Watcher picks to become his Guardians of the Multiverse, like Star-Lord T’Challa, Captain Peggy Carter, and Party Thor were characters who’d had their own spotlight episodes much earlier in the season. But the Thanos-slaying Gamora, hailing from a reality where she’d become good friends with Tony Stark, who the Watcher chooses only makes her first appearance in the finale, and the story doesn’t spend all that much time delving into her backstory.

It’d be a reasonable enough explanation if What If’s creators ultimately decided that giving the Gamora variant more screen time was less important than dealing with the meat of its major crossover event. But in s recent interview with Variety, head writer AC Bradley and executive producer Bryan Andrews explained that the factors that went into their decision were somewhat more complicated. Initially, Bradley explained, What If’s first season was intended to feature 10 episodes, one of which would have focused on the life of the Stark variant introduced in the finale, and how he came to be close with Gamora.

“However, due to the COVID pandemic, one of our animation houses was hit incredibly hard, and the episode needed to be pushed into Season 2, because it would not be finished in time,” Bradley said. “Given everything that we’ve all went through over the past two years, pushing an episode of television is absolutely nothing in comparison.”

Screenshot: Disney+/Marvel Screenshot: Disney+/Marvel

Like Gamora, Chadwick Boseman’s Star-Lord T’Challa plays a small, but important role in the Guardians of the Multiverse’s fight against Ultron, and his contribution very much feels like a reminder of how silly and fun his spotlight episode was. According to Andrews, even before “What If… T’Challa Became a Star-Lord” became one of the first season’s strongest episodes, plans were coming into shape for a full-on animated spin-off about the variant.

“I don’t know if [Boseman] knew this, but there was planning to have Star Lord T’Challa spin-off into his own show with that universe and crew,” Andrews said. “We were all very excited. We know he would have loved it, too. And then, you know, he passed, and so all that’s in limbo. So, who knows? Maybe one day.”

Looking forward, the What If team definitely plans to tell more stories inspired by more recent events throughout the MCU, and both Andrews and Bradley hinted that upcoming season(s) will spotlight characters from other Disney+ shows. Though the idea of a proper animated episode of WandaVision sounds fantastic, the pair didn’t confirm specifically which of the newer shows What If might take a crack at. It’s important to keep in mind, Andrews pointed out, that many of these shows are being produced concurrently, making it difficult for them to be in conversation with one another.

“[Marvel Studios chief] Kevin [Feige] was like, ‘No no no! No touching! Don’t touch that! Not yet!’”Andrews said about certain stories. “Maybe one day, maybe, if these things continue, we can play with some of that stuff. But we definitely get to play with some other parts of the MCU, for sure. There’s fertile ground.”

What If’s first season is now streaming on Disney+.