Posted June 17, 2015 by Drew Bagay in Comics

5 Marvel WHAT IF? Stories That Eventually Happened

Comic book fans love to play alternate realities. Thankfully, Marvel loves them too and has a comic book specifically for playing with continuity — the What If? stories. In these issues, Uatu the Watcher opens every story in the same vein as The Twilight Zone does with its show. The Watcher takes us into alternate worlds where things went differently.

One could argue Marvel uses this opportunity as a testing ground for ideas and concepts, or simply just having fun with their established canon. In any case, some of these stories too good to pass up and they eventually made their into the real Marvel continuity. Here are some of them.


1. What If… Spider-Man Joined the Fantastic Four?

What_If-_Vol_1_1From: What If? (1977) #1

In this debut issue Uatu the Watcher explains to the readers the concept of the Marvel Multiverse, alternate realities where things turned out differently. Here we see Spider-Man attempt to join the Fantastic Four for his money problems, just as he did in Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #1. Instead of being rejected, he got accepted in this issue which resulted in the birth of the Fantastic Five.

Sue Storm ends up being neglected most of the time due to Spider-Man’s addition. The issue ends with Sue falling in love with Namor and Spidey regretting his decision. What an interesting twist right?

In 2010, a new series debuted called Future Foundation, which features a philanthrophic team set-up by Mr. Fantastic to make a better future for humanity. After Johnny Storm’s death, Spider-Man joins the FF to honor the Human Torch’s last request. The team is essentially the Fantastic Four plus other great young minds that Reed Richards have gathered.

Spider-Man’s stint in the FF ended after discovering that Johnny Storm is still alive and has been trapped in the Negative Zone in Fastastic Four #600.

2. What If… the Hulk Had Become a Barbarian?

What_If-_Vol_1_23From: What If? (1977) #23

The actual title of the issue is What If Hulk’s Girlfriend Jarella Had Not Died? which apparently does not take into account people who do not follow Hulk’s love interests. The established canon for the majority of readers says Betty Ross is Hulk’s girlfriend so messing with that could really be confusing, especially for today’s readers where the said story arc is very irrelevant.

Jarella made her first appearance back in The Incredible Hulk (1962) #140 as a one-off guest character by Harlan Ellison. But over the years the character kept being brought back by several writers and eventually became a major development in Hulk’s characterization.

Jarella is killed off in The Incredible Hulk (1962) #205 which is the issue this What If? is based on. In the alternate timeline, Hulk and Jarella fight through several subatomic universes before finally arriving in Jarella’s homeworld of K’ai. The couple eventually marry and become that world’s rulers.

The whole premise sound very similar to 2006’s Planet Hulk storyline. It follows Hulk’s conquest in the planet Sakaar after being sent there by the Illuminati. He eventually becomes the king of Sakaar and goes back to Earth to take revenge against the Marvel heroes.

3. What If… Spider-Man Had Not Married Mary Jane?

What_If_Vol_2_20From: What If? (1997) #20

Here’s another Spider-Man entry that will surely rustle some jimmies. For the first time in What If‘s history, Marvel decided to do a two-part storyline this time. The first part breaks up Peter and MJ’s relationship resulting in Peter marrying the Black Cat in the next one.

Basically Peter’s responsibility schtick gets the better of him and he decides to leave Mary Jane at the altar, realizing he couldn’t keep her safe. Instead, he goes for someone who’s in the same business with him – the Black Cat. Hey, at least go for someone who can protect herself right? Apparently not. The infamous Parker luck strikes again as Black Cat eventually gets killed by Paladin later on. No happily ever after for Peter Parker.

This little premise would eventually crawl its way into Marvel’s continuity in the form of 2007’s One More Day. In a gesture of his undying love for Aunt May, Peter makes a deal with Mephisto to save her life in exchange for Peter and MJ’s marriage. How the marriage ended up null is explained in a follow-up story titled One Moment in Time.

The very controversial storyarc and executive meddling left a bad taste in fans that it remains as one of Spider-Man’s worst stories ever.

4. What If… Beast Continued to Mutate?

What_If-_Vol_1_37From: What If? (1977) #37

I will just focus on Beast for this one. It is well known that Dr. Hank McCoy developed a serum that triggered his mutation into his most popular blue beastly form that we see today. He started from a regular muscular guy with monkey feet and transformed into a literal beast. That mutation actually made him an Avenger!

The issue has Beast mutating into a literal beast, both in physically and mentally. The serum he ingested was too effective than he initially thought and he started becoming more feral in nature. Getting more uncontrollable by the minute, Beast gets less articulate and sees his teammates as prey.

Our favorite mutant furball has indeed continued to transform throughout the years in Marvel canon. He now features feline characteristics as opposed to his ape-like look previously. And he’ll probably change even further down the road.

5. What If… Jane Foster Had Found the Hammer of Thor?

What_If-_Vol_1_10From: What If? (1977) #10

2014’s Thor featuring a female lead wielding Mjolnir have been the center of attention among fans and mainstream media alike ever since its inception. In its last issue the mystery identity of Thor is revealed to be none other than a terminally ill Jane Foster, to the surprise of many fans.

However the idea has already been played with in a What If? issue in 1978. This time nurse Jane Foster accompanies Dr. Donald Blake to the secret cave where he famously discovered his walking stick. Jane picks it up and strikes it instead, and she becomes… Thordis, complete with a sexy Thor costume perfect for Halloween.

Jane Foster only acquires Thor’s powers as she is not really the banished Asgardian. Much like the canonical Jane-Thor, she never had the approval of Odin and the rest of the Asgardians. Nonetheless Thordis continues on with Thor’s adventures as we know them (e.g. becoming a founding member of the Avengers).

Realizing this is not how he everything was supposed to go, Odin returns the hammer to Thor/Donald Blake. As compensation, Odin transforms Jane into a goddess worthy of being in Asgard. Jane marries Odin while Thor ends up with Lady Sif.

Let’s just say I’m thankful that ending stayed in an alternate reality.

Drew Bagay

Drew is a lover of comic books, movies, and all things pop culture. He enjoys crime/thriller/noir fiction, playing the guitar, and taking long walks. He also doesn't like talking in third person.