‘What If…?’ episode 6 reimagines the origins of Tony Stark and complicates the story by adding Erik Stevens/Killmonger to the mix. The episode has layers of politics and plays with the conflicting ideas of war and peace through the character of Killmonger. As the episode progresses, Killmonger shows his true colors and goes down the path of villainy. However, his motivations might be more conflicted than they appear. Allow us to break down the episode’s events and the complex nature of Killmonger’s actions. Here’s everything you need to know about the ending of ‘What If…?’ episode 6. SPOILERS AHEAD!
What If…? Episode 6 Recap
The sixth episode of ‘What If…?’ is titled ‘What If… Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?’ and opens with Tony Stark’s visit to Afghanistan. There, his convoy is ambushed by the Ten Rings terrorist organization, but Tony is saved by the intervention of Lieutenant Erik “Killmonger” Stevens. At a press conference announcing Tony’s safe return from Afghanistan, Killmonger reveals that Obadiah Stane planned the assassination attempt. This opens the door for a friendship between Tony and Killmonger.
Together, they attempt to build humanoid drones capable of advanced warfare. However, to mass-produce them, they require Vibranium. Tony arranges for James Rhodes to meet black market supplier Ulysses Klaue to obtain some Vibranium. However, T’Challa/Black Panther shows up at the scene to retrieve the Vibranium. Killmonger takes advantage of the situation and kills Rhodes and T’Challa. Tony finds out about Killmonger’s actions through JARVIS and confronts him with the drone prototype.
Killmonger kills Tony and makes it look like a Wakandan hit, escalating the conflict between the USA and Wakanda. He then uses Klaue as bait to make way into Wakanda and kills the dealer to prove his loyalty. The US army uses drones to attack Wakanda. Killmonger leads the Wakandan army and uses his knowledge to slay the drones, making himself look like a hero. The episode ends with Killmonger becoming the Black Panther while Shuri reveals Killmonger’s crimes to Pepper Potts.
What If…? Episode 6 Ending: Is T’Challa Dead? Why Did Killmonger Kill Him?
In the closing moments of the episode, Killmonger is wholeheartedly accepted into Wakanda. He is given the magical herb that grants him the power of the Black Panther. After taking the herb, Killmonger finds himself in a different plane of existence. There he sees a corporeal version of his cousin, T’Challa. Earlier in the episode, Killmonger murders T’Challa. However, as we have often heard, in the Wakandan culture, death is not the end.
Former Black Panthers exist in a different plane of existence after their death and guide their successors. It is in this plane that T’Challa confronts Killmonger. T’Challa accuses Killmonger of killing people for the throne. Killmonger counters by claiming to have done so to gain power. He further elaborates that he wishes to undo the injustice done to their people across the globe and needs the power to do so.
He claims to have gotten revenge for his father’s death, who himself was a victim of oppression. Like his counterpart from the main continuity, Killmonger is a victim of the circumstances. He is motivated by a misguided sense of justice and, therefore, is ultimately a villain. The ending also underlines that power in the wrong hands causes a lot of damage.
How Does Shuri Know About Killmonger’s Crimes?
Shuri discovers that Killmonger killed Tony and her brother. She shares this information with Pepper Potts. However, we never find out how Shuri came across the details with proof of Killmonger’s crimes. Since his arrival in Wakanda, Shuri appears to be skeptical of Killmonger’s motives. Her instincts turn out to be right since he is a killer and has been pitting the USA and Wakanda against each other.
When Pepper asks how Shuri found out the information, she exclaims that Tony Stark wasn’t the only genius. It is possible that Shuri managed to activate JARVIS through the AI’s link to one of the Droids sent to attack Wakanda. Tony mentions that the droids are up-linked to JARVIS, and Tony himself found out about Killmonger’s crimes through JARVIS. Therefore, Shuri — being a gifted tech wizard — might have found the proof in a similar manner.
In the end, Shuri and Pepper team up to take down Killmonger and attempt to expose him. The scene is particularly empowering because of the comparisons between 2008’s ‘Iron Man’ and 2018’s ‘Black Panther.’ Tony declaring himself as the Iron Man ushers the world towards world peace in the main continuity. Likewise, T’Challa announcing that Wakanda will share its wealth and knowledge with the rest of the world provides a ray of hope. In the absence of these two superheroes in this alternate reality, their loved ones Pepper and Shuri continue to be the ray of hope and try to establish peace.
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