10 Best Variants Of Marvel Characters From What If..? Series – Screen Rant

Lady Loki and Throg have appeared in the MCU, but what are the best variants of Marvel characters from the What If..? comic books?
Alternate versions of iconic characters have become all the rage thanks to the many great variants of the God of Mischief introduced in the recent MCU series LokiWhat If..? is set to introduce dozens of more takes on major heroes and villains when the upcoming animated series debuts in August on Disney+. Some of the best What If..? variants have a basis in the original Marvel Comics.
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Some of them don’t, but all of them apply the logic of the original comic anthology series which explored different takes on major moments in Marvel lore. New versions of the Sorcerer Supreme and Thor emerged in the comics, alongside very different iterations of Thanos, Spider-Man, and many more classic characters.
Illyana Rasputin, better known as the mutant Magik, is already one of the most powerful magicians in the Marvel Universe. In the 2018 one-shot What If? Magik #1, Magik becomes the Sorcerer Supreme in place of the usual person in that role, Stephen Strange.
The story explores a different path for Illyana after she emerges from the dimension of Limbo and chooses to explore magic as opposed to going back to the New Mutants. The story provides a still very plausible destiny for Magik in the main continuity, especially with Doctor Strange seemingly dying in the near future.
Comic fans are very familiar with Jane Foster assuming the mantle of Thor. She is one of the best alternate versions of Thor in the comics and soon will be in the MCU as well. But the 2014 version of Jane as Thor wasn’t the first.
What If..? introduced a Jane Foster Thor back in 1978, in issue #10 of the series. Jane found Mjolnir instead of Donald Blake, upsetting the story as it happened in 1962’s Journey Into Mystery #83. She proved herself worthy and powerful, taking on Loki and winning the favor of Asgard and Odin’s hand in marriage.
A number of What If..? issues deal with Captain America and different outcomes in his long, storied history. One of the best imagines a variant of Captain America who was thawed out in 1983 instead of 1963.
The butterfly effect is dramatic as he emerges into an America that has succumbed to fascism. Captain America plays a role in this dark turn to totalitarianism, at least in the form of an imposter. Steve Rogers exposes the fraudulent Captain America and battles to bring peace and freedom back to the country he fought for in World War II.
There have been many heralds of Galactus in Marvel Comics: Nova, Terrax, and perhaps the most famous, the Silver Surfer. Issue #33 of the series produced one of the best and most powerful variants of Dazzler when it made her into the new sentry for the world-devouring Galactus, one of the most powerful Marvel cosmic beings.
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In the story, Dazzler only agrees to become the new herald if Galactus spares Earth, a similar bargain Norrin Radd struck with Galactus before he became the Silver Surfer. Galactus accepts and Dazzler becomes the villain’s herald for many years. After Galactus releases her, Dazzler travels back to her home planet but soon she discovers a terrible irony: the Earth that she sacrificed a part of her life for had destroyed itself in her absence.
In 2006, What If? imagined Captain America being alive during another significant conflict: the American Civil War. The story is most memorable for its radical interpretation of Steve’s friend and colleague Bucky Barnes, who is dramatically different than the fresh-faced sidekick every fan knew him best as in comics.
In this version of the story, Bucky is the White Skull, a terrifying version of Captain America’s archnemesis, the Red Skull. Bucky is also a Confederate soldier, as opposed to Steve Rogers, who fights for the Union. Comic fans know Bucky Barnes has had a rough ride as the Winter Soldier, but in this alternate reality, he has one of his darkest and disturbing stories yet.
Venom and the Punisher are two of the biggest anti-heroes in Marvel Comics, and issue #44 of the second volume of the series produced a variant amalgamation of them both.
This 1992 story puts Frank Castle at the church where Spider-Man has his initial showdown with Venom and seemingly ditches the symbiote forever. Instead, the alien symbiote attaches to Castle, giving him an instant upgrade in his vigilante pursuit of justice once the two characters come to an uneasy peace.
Daredevil became a crimefighter in Hell’s Kitchen in his self-titled Marvel comic book series, but issue #28 of What If…? had him take a different path. This variant of Daredevil becomes an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. instead thanks to Tony Stark being present at the accident where Matt Murdock is blinded by radioactive waste.
From there, he’s indoctrinated into the world of S.H.I.E.L.D. by Nick Fury. Murdock takes on HYDRA virtually by himself when they kidnap his father in an effort to get information on the mysterious radiation that gave Murdock his powers.
Thanos and Captain America are bitter enemies, but What If? Infinity – Thanos #1 from 2015 turns their rivalry upside down. In fact, fans get one of the most disconcerting variants of Thanos when he puts on the uniform of Captain America and joins the Avengers.
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The story comes about as Thanos brokers a truce with Earth to protect it from an invading alien army. Thanos offers to use his massive army instead, but the bargain doesn’t turn out to be what the world thought it was.
One of the best variants of Storm – and Thor – appears in issue #10 of the second volume of the series. This story imagines Storm becoming worthy of Mjolnir when the X-Men visit Asgard, as they originally did in The New Mutants Special Edition #1.
In the original story, Loki gave Storm an enchanted hammer which wasn’t Mjolnir but in this one, she gets the real thing. She also fights an alternate version of Throg, who is Thor turned into a frog by Loki (something that originally happened in Thor #365).
One of the best variants in all of What If..? comics is May Parker, the daughter of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson. Spider-Girl originally appears in issue #105 of the series and proved popular enough to spin-off her own solo series and an entire universe in the form of the MC2 comic imprint.
“May Day” Parker is just one of many variants like Jane Foster Thor who would eventually end up in the main Marvel continuity. She eventually crossed over via the Spider-Verse storylines from the 2010s, but she remains a resident of her particular reality.
NEXT: 10 Strangest Alternate Realities From Marvel Comics What If…? Series
DARBY HARN is the author of the novels Ever The Hero, The Judgment Of Valene, and A Country Of Eternal Light. His short fiction appears in Strange Horizons, Interzone, Shimmer, and other venues.


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