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"Without Tony Stark's fateful capture in Afghanistan, the Age of Iron Man would never come to pass. Though the man was saved, a hero was lost, and a villain was given a new chance."
The Watcher

What If... Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark? is the sixth episode of the first season of What If...?.


An American soldier called Killmonger rescues Tony Stark when his Humvee is attacked in Afghanistan.


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Having uncovered a Ten Rings plot to assassinate Tony Stark while on a deep cover operation, Erik Killmonger arrives to save him when the terrorist organization launch an ambush in Afghanistan. Back in the United States, Stark appoints Killmonger as CSO of Stark Industries to help create improved weapons that would overpower the ones that fell into the wrong hands. Killmonger also exposes Obadiah Stane's involvement with the Ten Rings, leading to his arrest. At a party, Stark also hands Stane's old position as COO to his savior, looking to use his killing expertise to improve the company.

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Stark takes Killmonger to his garage, where the latter reveals he had designed a combat drone to replace human soldiers, but he was unable to develop an interface. To return the favor for saving his life, Stark agrees to help Killmonger bring his vision to reality. As they are building the Stark Liberator Drones, J.A.R.V.I.S. is imported into the drones' interface to give them real-time reactions to stimuli. For an energy source, Stark dismisses a miniaturized Arc Reactor as a dumb idea, leading Killmonger to propose using vibranium to power the robots.

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Stark proposes a meeting with Ulysses Klaue, knowing he has a vast supply of the metal. Pepper Potts objects due to Klaue's occupation as a black market dealer, but Stark decides to send military liaison James Rhodes as diplomatic cover. On a ship off the African coast, Rhodes was in the process of securing a deal with Klaue when Black Panther infiltrates the vessel, seeking Klaue's stolen vibranium. However, Killmonger intervenes and stuns his cousin to death with an upgraded sonic taser. He then kills Rhodes and leaves the taser in his hands, framing the U.S. for the death of Wakanda's prince.

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Killmonger returns to Stark with a Vibranium Spear in hand, not knowing that he had learned of the truth behind Rhodes' death thanks to J.A.R.V.I.S.. Having melted down Killmonger's vibranium ring to power a finished Liberator, Stark unleashes it to kill him. But Killmonger uses the spear to destroy the drone and kill Stark, wiping J.A.R.V.I.S. afterwards to cover it up. Potts begins to suspect his involvement with Rhodes' and Stark's deaths. With the vibranium spear as "evidence", Thaddeus Ross has the U.S. Military seize control of Stark Industries and launch the Liberator Drones into mass production for a war with Wakanda, using Klaue's vibranium to fuel the drones.


Killmonger has Klaue drive him to the Wakandan border, where he kills him. He presents the corpse to the Dora Milaje and reveals his blood affiliation to the Wakandan Royal Family, earning him a meeting with his relatives T'Chaka, Ramonda, and Shuri. Although the princess is wary of his American origins, the King of Wakanda welcomes his nephew home. As the Liberators approach Wakanda, Ramonda readies the Dora Milaje for the battle against the U.S. Liberators, as T'Chaka, Killmonger and Shuri watch.


On Killmonger's suggestion, Wakanda's forcefield is opened, allowing the Liberator army to march into the country. As Ross observes Wakanda's true nature from the drones, the forcefield is re-sealed, cutting their connection to J.A.R.V.I.S. and the American military. But as T'Chaka prepares to celebrate their apparent victory, Killmonger reactivates the drones secretly. The Dora Milaje and the Border Tribe rush into battle to avenge T'Challa, and Killmonger mounts a rhino to join the fight, gaining Ramonda's favor.

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The Wakandans emerge victorious after all Liberators had been destroyed. While observing Wakanda's sunsets, Killmonger is approached by T'Chaka, who lends him the power of the Heart-Shaped Herb. On the Ancestral Plane, T'Challa confronts his cousin and warns him of the corruptive volatility of unearned power. Meanwhile, Ross prepares a new assault on Wakanda using Stark technology. Potts discovers Shuri in her office, who confirms to her Killmonger's deception that led to Stark's death and the war. With a common enemy, the two join forces, intending to expose the truth and prevent further conflict.


Starring Cast

Guest Stars:

Non-Speaking Characters:






Sentient Species






Song title Artist Location(s)
Killmonger Ludwig Göransson
Rock 'N' Roll Made A Man Out Of Me David P Henzerling
Top of the World B. Stew



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