In 1977, Marvel Comics launched their What If? series, where alternate realities across the vast Marvel Universe were explored, originally by Uatu the Watcher. Many mainstream events in the timeline were explored if there had been a pivotal change in their events, with the Watcher then playing out the scenario.
Many of the tales explored in these scenarios are outlandish, eccentric, and wacky. Others offer very real and sometimes controversial changes to important events in the Marvel Universe, and give a new perspective on well-known character relationships. And while they all may be hypothetical scenarios, there are some outcomes that fans might have wished would have actually become canon.
10 Spider-Man/ MJ’s Child Survived
Peter Parker and his soulmate Mary Jane Watson have never had children in the main Earth-616 timeline. On many occasions, they have been incredibly close, with Mary Jane even being pregnant and in labor, but due to the involvement of Norman Osborn, the couple lost their child, in one of the darkest moments in Spider-Man’s history.
This infamous moment was rectified in the What If? universe, where Mary Jane and Peter were able to have a daughter. Their child, named Mayday Parker, would go on to inherit her father’s superpowers, as well as his legacy, making her a very important character in the future of the Marvel Universe.
9 Iron Man Lost The Civil War
The 2007 event Civil War is one of Marvel’s most iconic crossover events of all time. The issue of superhuman registration in order to reassure the public’s faith in superheroes pitted friends against each other, with Captain America and Iron Man leading the warring sides.
In the What If? reality exploring the civil war, Iron Man reaches out to Captain America to discuss the issues surrounding the Superhuman Registration Act, instead of simply turning to fisticuffs as if often the case in comic books. In the end, Captain America and Iron Man are able to come to a peaceful compromise, and Cap is never killed in the fallout.
8 Fury Fought World War II in Outer Space
One of the most ridiculous What If? stories around, the idea of Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos fighting a war in outer space is wild enough. But add to it the fact that the story explores a reality where World War II was fought in space, throw in the lizard-people of the Betan Empire as the villains, and you’ve got an absolute game-changer.
The definition of camp, this What If? story is as extravagant as it is incredulous. The story moves at a lightning-fast pace, and is a perfect lesson in willing suspension of disbelief. After all, what’s not to enjoy about Nick Fury fighting lizards in space, while puffing at his cigar inside his space-suit?
7 Spider-Man Joins The Fantastic Four
Spider-Man has always had a very close relationship with the Fantastic Four. Having both spent decades fighting crime in New York City, Spidey has basically become a part of the family. In the What If? universe, that is exactly what happens, as Spider-Man joining the FF changes the whole Marvel Universe.
With the new roster of the Fantastic Five, the dynamics of the team start to shift. Eventually, Sue Storm begins to have a change of heart about her place in the team, and leaves the team to join her new love, Namor the Sub-Mariner. While it’s a game-changer for fans of the FF, the story gives some agency to the Invisible Woman, who while is an integral part of the team, is often downplayed as simply the matriarch of the family.
6 What if Magneto formed the X-Men with Professor X
The rivalry between Professor Charles Xavier and Magneto is legendary. Two formative ideological voices in the fight for mutants and their equality, their differences in what they each believed was best for mutants as a whole put them at odds with each other for decades.
In a world where there was no conflicting resolve between the two leaders, the X-Men were born of Professor X and Magneto together. The team would take a different direction, now acting as a government affiliate working to benefit all mutants on a global scale. With no need to fight against any Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, the X-Men are able to work on long-term solutions for the betterment of all mutants.
5 Silver Surfer Wielded The Infinity Gauntlet
The Silver Surfer has traveled across the cosmos for centuries, as a herald of Galactus. He has inherited great wisdom, foresight, and power, thanks to his connection to the Power Cosmic. In the famous Infinity Gauntlet saga, the Surfer almost took the Gauntlet away from Thanos, the Mad Titan, but he failed. However, things would have been different for the Silver Surfer had he succeeded.
The story goes on to show that even a being so caring, wise, and benevolent as the Silver Surfer, would eventually succumb to the temptations and madness of wielding the Infinity Gauntlet. Luckily, the Surfer doesn’t fully descend into tyranny, and he is brought back to his mind by the memories of his one true love, Shalla-Bal.
4 The Phoenix Destroys Everything
Frank Millar’s take on the What If? universe gave fans a fresh take on the iconic Phoenix Saga. In the What If Jean Grey Didn’t Die? story, Millar explores what would happen if Jean Grey sacrificed herself to stop the Phoenix taking her over. While Jean has control of the Phoenix, as the story progresses, it’s revealed that the Phoenix is actually in the driver’s seat.
After destroying small asteroids and stars, Jean turns on her teammates, destroying the X-Men with ease. Even destroying her love, Cyclops, Jean is fully consumed by the Phoenix. The cosmic deity goes on to destroy the planet, then the galaxy, and finally the universe.
3 Captain America Never Gets Frozen
Captain America is best remembered as a hero from World War II who tragically sacrificed himself to save millions, and was frozen in a glacier for decades. When he was thawed out of the glacier, he awoke to a world he didn’t recognize, and would join the Avengers and continue fighting for The Dream.
In a What If? story exploring a reality where Captain America was never frozen in that glacier, the world is a completely different place. Not only are the Avengers a completely different outfit, Cap would live to see the end of World War II, and would continue fighting the good fight, eventually taking over as head of S.H.I.E.L.D. after his friend Nick Fury passed away.
2 Elektra Didn’t Die
Elektra’s relationship with Daredevil is one of the most passionate pairings in the Marvel Universe. Her death at the hands of Bullseye was one of the most harrowing moments in Matt Murdock’s life, and in a Frank Millar story exploring the possibility of Elektra surviving, fans witness a glorious change in Daredevil’s usually-morose life.
With Elektra’s death at the hands of Bullseye avoided, Elektra still chooses not to kill Foggy Nelson. As a result, Elektra becomes a fugitive in the underworld, with the Kingpin putting a massive bounty on her head. Daredevil chooses to leave New York City with Elektra, and the two live out their days happily away from the turmoil of Hell’s Kitchen.
1 Jessica Jones Joins The Avengers
Jessica Jones has worn many hats in her life, as a Private Investigator, a Defender, and also as an Avenger. Jessica’s stint on the Avengers was short-lived, mostly due to the fact that she didn’t want to return to her days crimefighting, and instead wanted to focus on her daughter, and her husband Luke Cage.
However, in the What If? universe, Jessica chooses to accept an invitation to the Avengers earlier in her life, and her world is turned upside down. She enjoys decades of success as an Avenger, prevented the events of Avengers: Disassembled, and even marries Captain America. A completely different world awaited an underrated Avenger if she had accepted the call of duty.
NEXT: 10 Times Marvel’s What If Went Too Far
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