Taking us right back to the MCU’s beginning – if not chronologically in-universe, at least the first scenes we saw in the then-fledgling experiment that’s become a true cinematic behemoth – the latest episode of What If…? shows us what happens when Tony Stark isn’t captured by the Ten Rings in 2008’s Iron Man. Instead, Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger – the lethal cousin of T’Challa, the Black Panther – rescues him, but has plans for vengeance, using his powerful new ally as a springboard to set his scheme in motion.

It’s an interesting setup, as all of the What If…? episodes have been so far; despite this, and the cavalier way in which character deaths can be used in these deviations from established continuity, it doesn’t feel particularly surprising to see how things play out – and it certainly feels less adventurous after the last few ventures into darker, more outlandish stories in the last few weeks. It feels almost too much like the MCU’s usual fare in its tone, which worked for, say, Captain Carter – especially as it did feel as if it had things to say about the gender politics of its period setting – but less so here, where it just covers ground already trodden so comprehensively (and so well) in the Black Panther film, albeit from a slightly different vantage point.

In fact, the episode ends just as things feel like they’re going in a truly unforeseen and interesting direction; the story being set up by the events here seems far more interesting than the story we got.

It’s not bad, per se; the performances are great – with Michael B. Jordan’s righteously angry Killmonger being just as charismatic and manipulative here as he is in live action and Andy Serkis once again having the time of his life as Klaue – and it’s brilliant from a technical perspective, but it just can’t help feeling like a disappointment after the universe-bending shenanigans of Doctor Strange’s episode, or the zombie apocalypse from last week. Though we spin off into an interesting thread by the end and some characters are dispatched impressively off-handedly, the episode feels far too much like a very rushed MCU origin film for its own good.

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