In the premiere episode, the alternate reality posed is what if Peggy Carter became the first Avenger instead of Steve Rogers? Instead of Rogers being the subject of Project Rebirth and becoming a Super Soldier, Carter takes the serum created by Dr. Abraham Erskine.
But with just this one change in the timeline, an influx of other changes ensue.
Here are some questions about how the Captain Carter universe differs from the main timeline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe:
Spoilers ahead for episode 1 of “What If…?”
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Does Howard Stark Go on to Make Other Hydra Stomper Suits?
In the primary MCU timeline, the first Iron Man suit is created by none other than Tony Stark. But that’s not the case in the Captain Carter timeline.
In the Captain Carter reality, Howard Stark uses the Tesseract to help create the first “Iron Man” suit when he develops the Hydra Stomper suit used by a still skinny Steve Rogers.
Knowing this, it is interesting to think about whether Howard creates more suits and if it becomes a part of his legacy. Does Stark Industries go on to mass produce Hydra Stompers for the U.S. to use in war? If so, this would then prevent Tony from being synonymous with such a creation in the future. But would it end up prevent or aid Tony with becoming Iron Man?
If Tony improves upon his father’s Hydra Stomper suit, he could create an Iron Man suit without ever actually needing it in the way he did in “Iron Man” to escape imprisonment.
It’s really a matter of how quickly technology is able to advance with Tessaract energy available. After all, the Hydra Stomper suit is created over 60 years before the first Iron Man suit is developed in the main timeline.
Is There a Winter Soldier?
When Captain Carter goes to Austria to rescue Bucky Barnes and the 107th Infantry, Barnes is locked up in a cell with his fellow soldiers and not tied up away from them in a different room like he was in “The First Avenger.” This likely means that Barnes hadn’t been experimented on by Hydra.
Aside from that, Barnes doesn’t fall off the train and “die” like he does in “The First Avenger.” But that’s not to say he didn’t come close to suffering that fate.
When Captain Carter and the Howling Commandos land on top of the Hydra train they’re set to ambush, Barnes nearly slips off and falls to likely death. But Carter is quick enough to grab his arm and pull him back up. Barnes makes a light-hearted comment about how she nearly ripped his arm off to save him. It’s a funny, somewhat dark-humored moment that pays homage to his original fate in the MCU.
But Barnes’ survival means he isn’t found and captured by Hydra and turned into the Winter Soldier when everyone else thinks him to be dead like he does in the original timeline. So does this mean there is no Winter Soldier in the Captain Carter universe? Does someone else become the first Winter Soldier, or does the program cease to exist?
It’s possible that someone else in the 107th was experimented on by Hydra, but there was no mention of others taken elsewhere when Captain Carter comes to their rescue. The possibility for a Winter Soldier is also dependent on whether Hydra is able to live on in secret in the way it did in the main timeline.
Who (Else) Founded S.H.I.E.L.D.?
The premiere episode of “What If…?” shows that Captain Carter becomes a woman out of time. S.H.I.E.L.D. does go on to be created, and Nick Fury will still become director of S.H.I.E.L.D. But, as aforementioned, how the creation of the government organization comes to be is inevitably different.
Howard Stark can still be one of the founders of S.H.I.E.L.D. However, Colonel Phillips dies at the start of the episode, so he cannot go on to be a part of S.H.I.E.L.D. in that timeline like he is in the main one. And, because of Captain Carter’s sacrifice, there is no way she plays a role in founding S.H.I.E.L.D. in this alternate reality.
This leaves just Stark as someone who can still create S.H.I.E.L.D.
It’s tough to think that Stark, on his own, would have found S.H.I.E.L.D. without help, though. He brings the science and technology expertise, but someone else has to cover the military and diplomatic aspects of the organization. Is it possible Steve Rogers goes on to take Carter’s role and helps create S.H.I.E.L.D., the two switching roles entirely?
Colonel John Flynn, who was introduced in the Marvel One-Shot “Agent Carter,” is a possibility but seems like an unlikely choice. He may have acted as though he was onboard with Carter and Stark’s choices, taking credit for their achievements, but Flynn didn’t get along with them.
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