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‘What If...?’ brought us the Iron Man, Black Panther episode we needed

Black Panther, Kilmonger, Iron Man and more battle in the latest episodes

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The Watcher in Marvel Studios’ “What If...?”

Black Panther, Kilmonger, Iron Man and more battle in the latest episodes of “What If...?”

Marvel Studios

Warning: This review contains mild spoilers for “What If...?” Episode 6.

It’s no question that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has a way of bringing characters together. That’s almost the point of the entire franchise. It’s why we have Avengers films and why we have teasers at the end of every MCU movie with a hint at what’s to come. The MCU is built on bringing characters together.

The latest episode of Marvel’s “What If...?” decides to unite characters who did not share much screen time in the MCU. In this episode, Kilmonger (Michael B. Jordan) rescues Tony Stark (Mick Wingert) from an attack in Afghanistan, as seen in “Iron Man.” From there, Kilmonger joins Stark Industries and works with Stark to develop new drone super soldiers. And, as we know, Kilmonger has more troubling intentions, looking to take over the country of Wakanda.

In all, this was the Iron Man, Black Panther mashup we needed. Never have two heroes and their worlds felt so right together and so linked. Seeing Kilmonger dealing with Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) and Stark was like a fan fiction come to life.

Mixing the worlds of the “Iron Man” franchise with the “Black Panther” story was a perfect fit, uniting stories of war, international law and technology all into one story. The story felt so fluid and like it could have all legitimately happened in the MCU.

More importantly, the new “What If...?” episode gave us more time with one of the MCU’s best villains. Kilmonger was a captivating villain in “Black Panther,” but his character was underdeveloped in the movie. He was presented as a villain but his motive was rarely clear. Now, we see his motive explored deeply in this episode and the reasoning behind his attacks on Wakanda are presented clearly. This gives us a deeper dive into Kilmonger. And that will only help how we see him in future rewatches of “Black Panther.” That’s the beauty of “What If...?” It adds more context to the characters and situations we’ve already seen.

This is something we’ll never see in movies. Iron Man/Tony Stark has died in the true timeline of the MCU. The “Black Panther” series will likely change as well since T’Challa actor Chadwick Boseman died last year, which will alter how the franchise moves forward. It’s a truly unique episode we will never see elsewhere, and it’s worthy viewing for anyone who wants to see these two worlds come together.

The latest episode was an excellent story with a teaser for more, too. This is one of the “What If...?” episodes that hints at a future story next season. It wouldn’t be surprising for us to return to this world and see Shuri, Pepper Potts and General Ross figure out what’s going on in Wakanda and take on Kilmonger.