What If...? S1 E1: What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?, TV series episode for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2021) - Film review by KadmonWhat If...? S1 E1: What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?, TV series episode for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2021)
image © Marvel (Disney)

Article updated: 2021.11.25

The What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger? (2021) is an episode (series 1, episode 1) from the What If...? cartoon TV series. The TV series episode was reviewed by Kadmon.

Product: What If...? S1 E1: What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?, TV series episode (2021)

Original title: What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?

Series: Marvel Cinematic Universe: What If...?, season: 1, episode: 1

Setting: alternate fantasy Earth (Marvel Universe - Marvel Cinematic Universe)

Previous entries in the series: Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Product type: Film, Genre: sci-fi / fantasy action, Style: sci-fi, fantasy, action, super-human abilities

Release: 2021.08.11

Reviewer: Kadmon, Type: Male, 40s, Preferences: Immersive, logical story, consistent setting, prefers surprises to spoilers, prefers establishing elements before referencing them

Watched: very recent (2021.08), first time

Rating: Good (2+ out of 3 points), Enjoyment: Good (2+ out of 3 points)

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This is my review of What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?, a sci-fi / fantasy action TV series episode for the Marvel Cinematic Universe from 2021. It's about World War 2 Allied forces trying to defeat the Nazis with the help of a super-soldier. This What If...? episode is interesting, I recommend it.

If you'd really like to be surprised by everything in the What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger? story, I don't recommend you to watch the trailer beyond 00:18, because it gives away plenty of minor spoilers. However, I don't think it's that much of a problem, if you already know the stories in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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Review (spoiler-free) - What If...? S1 E1: What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?, TV series episode (2021)

I knew that the What If...? animated series is coming, although I was not really interested. I've read some of the issues of the comics version, and while some were fun, most of them were pointless retellings of a stories. I didn't want to write a review about the series, I just watched the first episode for fun, but after the first few minutes I realised that this is good, and it's worth it's own article.

The What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger? movie is about World War 2 Allied forces trying to defeat the Nazis with the help of a super-soldier

The story is good and captivating from the beginning. I'm not sure there are real character arcs, but there are no logical problems either.

I liked it that it's not just a sex-swapped revisit of the original Captain America story. I really liked the twists that changed the original storyline, and while the whole thing was really similar, it was different enough to be enjoyable. Also, it was a lot more compact than a feature-length movie, so I think I prefer this to the original Captain America film.

As this is the first episode, I cannot compare it to the later episodes.

The cinematography is good, the scenes are interesting visually. The animation is good and fluid.

I'm not entirely sure about the introduction of the characters, I think the writers build on previous knowledge of the Captain America story. However, I think we get enough introductions nonetheless, for this story to work.

I have to admit I don't remember the music (by Laura Karpman), the action took my attention, but it was probably okay.

What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger? is an interesting sci-fi / fantasy action story, I think fans of the genre will enjoy it.

My experience

I was satisfied with What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger? (2021).

Rating: Good (2+ out of 3 points). What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger? is a well-made film.

Enjoyment: Good (2+ out of 3 points). What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger? is interesting, I liked it.

Rewatchability: If you liked it for the first time, I think you'll like it multiple times.I

Chance of watching it again: There's a chance. I liked it enough that I might watch it in the right circumstances.

Chance of watching a sequel: High. I'd sure watch it.

What If...? S1 E1: What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?, TV series episode for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2021) - Film review by KadmonWhat If...? S1 E1: What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?, TV series episode for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2021)
image © Marvel (Disney)

Will you enjoy this?

If you cannot miss any release related to the Marvel Universe, you'll watch this anyway.

If you are interested in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you'll probably watch this, no matter what.

If you are into super-hero movies, this is a good choice to watch.

If you like action movies, you might like What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?.

If you enjoyed the Captain America: The First Avenger, you might be interested in this story.

If you hate subtitles, be prepared for some, but it's not essential to read them, you'll probably understand the situations even without the subtitles.

If you hate super-hero movies, this is still a good fantasy action story, but it probably won't change your mind about the genre.

Diverging timeline

Basics of the story: Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Point of divergence: Instead of Steve Rogers, it's Peggy Carter who gets the Super Soldier Serum

Do you need to see other films in the series to enjoy this?

Although I think there's enough explanation that you'll understand what's going on without seeing anything else, you'll probably enjoy this a lot more if you have seen Captain America: The First Avanger, and probably the first Iron Man movie. Watching the Agent Carter series might also add to the enjoyment, although I haven't seen that yet.

Watching for plot points

If you are interested in Marvel stories, I think it's worth watching the What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger? movie for the plot points.

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What If...? S1 E1: What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?, TV series episode for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2021) - Film review by KadmonWhat If...? S1 E1: What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?, TV series episode for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2021)
image © Marvel (Disney)

Review with spoilers - What If...? S1 E1: What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?, TV series episode for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2021)

I liked the What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger? episode a lot.

Cover

The cover of the movie is okay, it doesn't say much, but it doesn't spoil the movie.

The trailer

The trailer is not perfect, it has too many minor spoiler to my taste, but it's not that bad either. Whatch it if you don't mind some spoilers.

Promise of the first scene

Agent Carter becomes a super-soldier. I assume we get something similar to the original Captain America story, where she gets sent to Germany, to defeat the Nazis. And she'll probably survive the final flight, so she won't be time-jumped into the current Marvel timeline.

Execution: We got mostly that, but with enough twists and surprises that made this story enjoyable. Also, she did get her time jump, but in a different way.

What If...? S1 E1: What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?, TV series episode for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2021) - Film review by KadmonWhat If...? S1 E1: What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?, TV series episode for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2021)
image © Marvel (Disney)

Plot summary / Synopsis

Scientists came up with a serum that will make a super-soldier out of an ordinary man. During the experiment, a Nazi spy shoots the scientist and the original test subject (Steve Rogers). A female agent (Peggy Carter) decides to take his place in the experiment, becoming the first super soldier. The military leaders are not happy by these turn of events, and they don't intend to use her abilities. An inventor (Howard Stark) creates an opportunity for her to join the fight in Europe, defeating Nazi soldiers easily. She gets called Captain Carter. They turn their attention towards the workings of Hydra, and try to defeat them, as the leader of Hydra (the Red Skull) gets a magical Infinity Stone. They are able to steal the stone, and the inventor creates a mechanical suit (later called Hydra Stomper), using the stone as a power source. Steve Rogers pilots the suit, so he also gets his share from the fights.

Hydra lures the Hydra Stomper into a trap, and they get the Infinity Stone back, to finish opening a portal, where a tentacled monster comes through. Captain Carter starts fighting the monster. The Allied soldiers free Rogers, so he uses the mech suit to join the fight. Carter manages to push back the creature into the portal, but the portal closes behind her.

After 70 years, the leader of a secret government agency (Nick Fury) uses the Infinity Stone to open the portal, and Captain Carter steps out of it.

The setting

1940s of an alternate Earth (Marvel Cinematic Universe).

In this universe, there are gods, magic users, mutants, aliens.

Characters

Captain Carter: She is a skilled and strong fighter, she can take out well trained males effortlessly. She is skilled in the use of her shield that returns to her after hurling it away.

Hydra Stomper: A giant mech, piloted by Steve Rogers. The machine needs the Infinity Stone for prolonged work, but it can work from a generator for a limited time, even without the power of the stone. It can fly. It can tear German Tiger tanks apart.

Plot points of interests

The were a couple of changes to the setting and characters.

Forces

Hydra: It seems like the Allied forces fought directly against Hydra, and not the Nazis.

Changes to characters

Steve Rogers: Before the experiment was completed, he was shot by the German agent. He later recovered, and Howard Stark made a giant mech suit for him.

Agent Carter: When Steve Rogers got shot, she decided to take his place in the experiment to become a super soldier. She did become one. She got a special shield from Howard Stark. While fighting against a tentacled creature, she went through a portal, and returned to Earth only when Nick Fury opened that portal again, 70 years later.

Characters killed

Red Skull: He was probably killed by the tentacled creature.

Technology

Hydra Stomper: An early version of the Iron Man suit, powered by the Infinity Stone. It has the ability to fly. It can tear German Tiger tanks apart.

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What If...? S1 E1: What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?, TV series episode for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2021) - Film review by KadmonWhat If...? S1 E1: What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?, TV series episode for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2021)
image © Marvel (Disney)

Analysis of the story - What If...? S1 E1: What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?, TV series episode for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2021)

I liked the story, I didn't find problems that would have prevented me from enjoying What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?.

The message of the story

I'm not sure there's one. "Take the choice you think is right even if it goes against your orders"?

The structure of the story

The scenes of the What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger? film are mostly played in sequence, following the same storyline.

It has the usual arc of the dramatic structure - beginning, action, resolution, with a hint of a possible sequel.

Fan-service

The fan-service aspect is visible in What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger? movie, but as this is the whole premise of the series, it's unavoidable.

Scenes and elements from previous films:

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

  • The iconic shot of Cap bursting through the door with the Howling Commandos
  • Bucky falling off from train
  • Fury meeting Cap after a 70 year time gap

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

  • Falling Bucky caught by left arm, then saying "wow, you almost ripped my arm off": In Winter Soldier, his left arm is replaced by a bionic arm.

Where Eagles Dare (1968)

  • Captain Carter call the operation "Where Eagles Dare"

Things I liked

Problematic elements

A touching moment: In Captain America, Carter touches the chest of Rogers in awe when he steps out of the machine. I would have liked a similar scene, although I can understand why did they intentionally miss this opportunity.

Unanswered questions

How did the Red Skull lose his face?

What happened to the Red Skull in the end? Is he dead?

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Possibilities of improvement

How it could have been better?

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How does it compare to the other works of the creators?

I haven't seen any other works of the writers (A.C. Bradley & Matthew Chauncey) or the director (Bryan Andrews), but based on this episode, I'm interested in their stories.

How does it compare to the other films in the series?

I probably liked this better than most of the other Marvel stories, because it was shorter and more compact.

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What If...? S1 E1: What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?, TV series episode for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2021) - Film review by KadmonWhat If...? S1 E1: What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?, TV series episode for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2021)
image © Marvel (Disney)

Uses for the film - What If...? S1 E1: What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?, TV series episode for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2021)

Plot

  • Scientists come up with a serum that will make a human super-powered
  • The serum works, and a woman gets super-powered
  • The super-powered soldier gets deployed in a war, easily defeating the enemy forces
  • The bad guys get a magical artifact to use against the good guys
  • The good guys get the magical artifact from the bad guys, but the bad guys get it back with a trick
  • The monster summoned by the bad guys turns against them, and the good guys have to stop the monster and close the portal

Scenes

  • The air battle scene looks great to show how super-heroes fight against enemy fighters
  • The summoning scene is a good depiction how summoning works if it's done by the bad guys

Scenarios - Role-playing game

Scenarios - Wargame

The Power Source campaign:

There's a power source. One side has cultists, the other side has protectors. Whoever has it, has an advantage over the other side. Both sides want to wipe out the other side.

Both sides have a number of powerful unique characters they can include in any scenario for free. However, they need to be careful when to use them, because if they get killed or lost, they can't be used in any further scenario.

The protectors win the campaign if they are able to defeat all of the cultist special characters.

The cultists win the campaign if they reach scenario #4, and the portal is still open by the end of the scenario.

#1 - Assault of the shrine: The cultists have to find and retrieve the Power Source. The player of the protector side plays the guardians, who are religious fanatics, defending their shrine. In the middle of the shrine, is the Power Source, entombed in stone. The cultists have to breach the defenses, reach the tomb, and break it to get the Power Source, then retreat to the edge of the playing area. The fanatics don't have powerful weapons or armour, but they are able to hurt the cultists. The fanatics are unlimited in number, if a fanatic gets out of the fight, the model can enter again on any edge of the playing area. The cultists win if the retrieve the Power Source. The fanatics win if the repel the cultists.

#1B - Ambush: If the cultists were not able to get the Power Source for the first time, they have alerted the protectors. The protectors don't know where is the shrine, but they know that the cultists try to get something dangerous. Every time the cultists try scenario #1 again, they have to play #1B before it, and only those units can take part in the scenario who can leave the playing area in #1B. As the cultist force travels towards the shrine, they meet a protector patrol. Create scenery for the playing area together, then roll a d6: 1-3: The protectors are deployed in the middle, and the protectors choose a side where the cultists can enter. The cultists have to reach the other side to leave. 4-6: The cultists are deployed in the middle, and they choose a side where they are able to leave. The protectors then deploy on any other side, that was not chosen by the cultists.

#2 - Assault of the cultist base: The cultists have the Power Source in their base, and the protectors try to steal it from them. The cultists prepare for a ritual, and for that, they need 3 time units to spend. The protectors can try to steal it once every time unit, but if they don't succeed by the time runs out, then scenario #4 is played. Create a base for the cultists, with appropriate protection. The Power Source is in the middle. The protectors can enter through the gate. The protectors win if they are able to reach the Power Source, then leave the playing area with it, and the next scenario will be #2B. The cultists win if the protectors don't move the Power Source. If the Power Source is moved, then the ritual was disturbed, and no time unit is added to the cultists ritual.

#2A - Assault of the cultist base: The same as #2, but all of the cultist special characters must be included.

#2B - Assault of the protector's base: If the protectors got the Power Source, they hide it in their own base to research it. They need 3 time units to research its powers. The cultists may try to recover it, just like in scenario #2. If they get it back, the timer on their own ritual is counting again. If the cultists move the Power Source, they interrupt the research of the protectors. If the protectors reach 3 time units, they were able to create a Super Protector. Run scenario #3.

#3 - Siege of the cultists base: The playing area is the base of the cultists. The cultists have to deploy all of their special characters in the base. The protectors may choose to get an additional powerful model that is more powerful than anything else in their army, but the model uses the Power Source. There are gates that the protectors can use to enter, and the cultists can use to escape. If the Super Protector is defeated by the cultists, and the cultists win the scenario, they can remove the Power Source, and continue the ritual, the next scenario is #2. If some of the cultist special characters escape, they will organise another base, the next scenario will be #3 again, with the remaining cultist special characters, until all of them are defeated.

#3B - Siege of the cultist base: The same as #3, but the protectors can't include the Super Protector. However, during the mission, they are able to continue their research. As the cultists are on the defense, they can't hinder their work. If they already made research during #2B missions, each #3B mission adds one more time unit. If they reach 3 units, the protectors are able to choose scenario #3.

#4 - Closing the portal: The cultists have finally opened the portal to summon monsters. The cultists have to deploy all of their special characters in the base. The protectors have to breach the base, then close the portal. They have to fight both the cultists and the monsters. At the start of every turn, roll a d6 - if you roll a 6, the portal is opened, and a part of a monster comes through. Roll a d6: 1-3: human-sized monster, the whole creature comes through, 4-5: large monster, it will only come through if another 4-5 is rolled next time, but until then, it can still attack models near the portal, 6: giant monster, only a part of it (a tentacle, arm, claw) comes through every time a 6 is rolled, but it is able to attack models in the portal room.

The portal has a structure that needs to be destroyed to close the portal. The structure includes the Power Source. Any cultist special character can remove the Power Source from the structure, that automatically closes the portal. Protector models can only remove the Power Source after destroying the whole structure.

The creatures can be controlled by a third player, or moved randomly. I don't think it's appropriate for the cultists to be able to control them, unless they complete some other scenarios where they find ways to control the creatures.

The giant creature might be only be defeated if a model sacrifices itself by pushing it through the portal, after the giant creature lost all of its Wounds.

The protectors win the scenario if they close the portal. If the cultists have the Power Source, the next scenario will be #2A, trying to kill the remaining cultist leaders. If the protector have the power source, and they've already researched how to create the Super Protector, the next scenario is #3. If they didn't research it, then the next scenario is #3B.

The cultists win the campaign if the portal is still open by the end of the scenario.

Miniatures - 1/50-1/60 (28-32mm scale)

Captain Carter: Modern human-sized muscled female, with a shield.

Hydra Stomper: Modern Giant mech in full armour and helmet, with rockets on it back.

Red Skull: Modern human-sized military officer with a skull face (or skull-style helmet).

Soldiers: Modern human-sized soldiers.

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Similar stories - What If...? S1 E1: What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?, TV series episode for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2021)

Graphic novels

The Boys (2006-2012, 2020): Ordinary babies get a serum that makes them super-powered (or dead).

What If... ? (1977-1984, 1989-1998): Series of one-shot episodes, based on the idea to depict how one small change would create a different story.

Movies

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011): The episode is based on this movie. An ordinary man gets a serum that makes him super-powered.

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Frequently asked questions - What If...? S1 E1: What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?, TV series episode for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2021)

Is the What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger? film based on a book or comics?

Partially, yes. What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger? is based on the concept of the What If... ? comics, and the Captain America: The First Avenger movie.

Is there a post credit scene in What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger??

No, there's no post credit scene in What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?.

Where can I watch What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger? online? Is What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger? available on Netflix? Is What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger? on Amazon?

As of 2021.08.21, What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger? is only available on Disney+.

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Resources - What If...? S1 E1: What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?, TV series episode for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2021)

Official

What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?: Official article.

Christine Dinh (for Marvel): What If…?: Episode 1 Multiverse Report: Official article. Includes plot summary.

Information

IMDB: What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?: Database article.

WikiPedia: What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?: Database article.

Rotten Tomatoes: What If… 2021-: Database article.

Reviews with no spoilers - What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger? TV series episode (2021)

: Review video about the What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger? film with no spoilers.¤

Reviews with spoilers - What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger? TV series episode (2021)

Greig Morrison (greigzilla) (for We've Got (Back) Issues): What If…? – Season 1, Episode 1: What If… Captain Carter Were The First Avenger?: Review article of the What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger? episode, with spoilers. Includes a very detailed plot summary.

Analysis - What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger? TV series episode (2021)

: Analysis video about What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?.¤

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Buying the product - What If...? S1 E1: What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?, TV series episode for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2021)

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Have you seen the What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger? series episode for the Marvel Cinematic Universe? How do you like this episodes? Would you recommend it to others? Do you know reviews or resources you'd like to add? What further thoughts do you have about it? Tell your opinion in the comments!

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