Captain Carter Vs Captain Britain: What The MCU Changed

Captain Carter Vs Captain Britain: What The MCU Changed

Caution: Spoilers ahead for What If…? episode 1

How does the MCU Captain Carter, introduced in What If…?  and Doctor Strange 2, differ from the Marvel comic books’ Captain Britain? The latest addition to Disney+’s ever-expanding catalog of MCU TV shows is What If…?, an animated anthology series where The Watcher narrates a string of alternate scenarios changing MCU history as we know it. The premiere episode reveals what would happen if Peggy Carter replaced Steve Rogers as the recipient of Dr. Erskine’s super-soldier serum, making her a parallel to Captain America. Captain Carter makes her live-action appearance in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.


Hayley Atwell’s thick British accent immediately confirms she is not “Captain America.” There are similarities, of course — Captain Carter fights with a shield, has the same powers Steve Rogers should’ve received, and leads the Howling Commandos on a series of anti-HYDRA raids during World War II. But the red, white, and blue of Uncle Sam has been replaced by the red, white, and blue of the Union Jack, proudly emblazoned upon Peggy’s tunic and shield as she fights for king and country. She’ll likely be taking Captain America’s place in Doctor Strange 2, though it’s unknown how she’ll fight alongside Benedict Cumberpatch’s hero.

Related: Who Plays Steve Rogers In What If? (& Why Chris Evans Didn’t Return)

Many will logically assume that since What If…? and Doctor Strange 2’s Peggy Carter isn’t Captain America, she must, therefore, be Captain Britain. This isn’t exactly true. Captain Britain already exists in Marvel comic lore. While there are parallels between him, and What If…? and Doctor Strange 2’s super-powered Peggy, it’s more accurate to consider them completely separate heroes. Captain Carter is Great Britain’s answer to Captain America — but here’s how she’s different from Captain Britain.

Captain Britain’s Comics Origin

Captain Britain

Various characters have occupied the Captain Britain mantle. Still, the most prominent is Brian Braddock, whose origin story is something akin to a mashup of Hulk, Shazam, and Green Lantern. Raised in an old-money family, Brian was an ordinary human, shy and retiring, but with a keen interest in physics. As an adult, his lab was attacked by the supervillain known as The Reaver, and Brian ended up falling from a cliff as he tried to find help. Rewarding his bravery, Brian was offered a second chance by the mystical being known as Roma and her father, Merlyn. This paranormal father-daughter duo exists in Marvel’s Otherworld plane, ensuring the mortal world is suitably protected.

Before returning home, Brian is offered the choice between an amulet and a sword. Unfamiliar with the ways of combat, he chooses the former and transforms into the Captain Britain of Earth-616. Each plane of the Marvel multiverse contains its own variation of Captain Britain. These club together to form a corps, where the aforementioned Green Lantern influence comes in. Later re-tellings reveal that Brian’s father was a former Captain Britain, specifically chosen by Merlyn to sire a fated hero.

The second main figure to assume the Captain Britain title is Kelsey Leigh, a teacher and single mother who valiantly sacrificed herself to protect Captain America after witnessing a battle between the Avengers and the villainous Wrecking Crew. Like Brian Braddock, Kelsey was allowed to return to life. By this time, Brian had replaced Merlyn as the representative from Otherworld, and gave Kelsey the same choice he was offered many years prior. Unlike her predecessor, Kelsey decided a necklace would be useless in battle and chose the sword instead, becoming a new iteration of Captain Britain.

Related: Does Doctor Strange 2 Have An After Credits Scene (& How Many?)

Captain Britain’s Comic Powers & Weapons Explained

Captain Britain With Excalibur

Captain Britain’s powers have shifted over time, compared to Captain Carter, and there are caveats as to when and where he can use them. The source of Brian Braddock’s power is inter-dimensional energy, initially triggered with a quick rub of his amulet, but eventually fused into Captain Britain’s body. These mystical energies give the usual super strength, super stamina, and enhanced durability, but also project a force-field around Brian to prevent damage. If that wasn’t enough, Captain Britain’s agility, reflexes, and senses are all magically enhanced. Arguably Brian’s greatest power, however, is speed-of-sound flight. Dimensional energy is used as fuel, while the force-field protects Captain Britain’s face from peeling off by G-force.

But there are major limits on how Captain Britain uses these powers. Otherworld’s energy field is limited to the British isles, so were Brian to vacation in Spain, for instance, he’d be as useful in a fight as any other tourist. Realizing this rule was a bit silly, Captain Britain used his costume to retain mystical energy anywhere on the planet, thus rendering Brian’s powers dependent on his outfit. This rule became obsolete after the truth about Brian’s father came to light. In 2008, the rules changed again, making Captain Britain’s strength dependent on his confidence. The more he believes in himself, the stronger he becomes.

When Brian Braddock began his superhero career, he wielded a quarterstaff that employed technology to create force-fields and disintegrate matter. This was meant to ease Brian’s scientific mind into the concept of magic, and Merlyn soon upgraded Captain Britain’s staff to a mystical scepter that permitted flight. These powers were ultimately placed into Brian himself, rather than any specific weapon. Captain Britain has also carried several swords in the Marvel comics. One is the weapon he originally turned down, the Sword of Might, and the other is King Arthur’s magical blade Excalibur, which makes the user invincible.

How What If…? Changes Captain Britain

Hayley Atwell as Captain Carter in What If Episode 1

Clearly, Captain Britain’s origin and powers bear precious little resemblance to Captain Carter’s in What If…? and Doctor Strange 2. Peggy and Brian must be considered entirely different heroes, despite wearing British colors. Captain Carter and Captain Britain occupy opposite ends of Marvel’s superhero spectrum in terms of origin. Peggy’s abilities derive from science — Dr. Erskine’s laborious experiments to create the perfect soldier, which eventually produced the coveted blue serum capable of turning even a skinny kid from Brooklyn into a physical powerhouse. Despite Brian Braddock’s scientific education, his Captain Britain powers are magical in nature, granted by legendary beings from another dimension, who imbue their chosen champion with unearthly energy.

Related: What If…? How Many Episodes There Are (And When The Finale Is)

There is some crossover between the powers of a super soldier and those of the Captain Britain Corps. The two Marvel captains undergo physical transformations after first gaining their powers, and there are patriotic overtones aplenty in Peggy and Brian’s designs. Both heroes get stronger, faster, and harder to kill, but Brian Braddock’s mystical energy allows him to do far more with his gifts than Carter.

Though their respective superhero transformations couldn’t be more different, there is a thematic similarity in how Captain Carter and Captain Britain were created, if you look close enough. Each became a superhero because they already possessed the necessary qualities of valor and courage, and both were charged with protecting their homeland from would-be invaders. Just as Captain Carter uses a shield, Brian opts for an amulet instead of a sword, proving how both characters prefer reason over violence.

It’s interesting how toward the end of her What If…? origin story, Captain Carter takes up a sword — a huge deviation from Steve Rogers. Captain Carter’s shield appears in the latest footage from Doctor Strange 2, so her sword likely will too. Peggy’s blade could be a nod to Captain Britain’s Sword of Might, leaning into the traditional image of an English knight.

Captain Carter vs. Captain Britain: Who Would Win?

Peggy Carter as Captain Britain in What If.

The all-important question — who would win in a fight between Captain Carter and Captain Britain? Unfortunately, Peggy’s chances don’t look too rosy in this battle of the Brits. Since Brian’s powers are enhanced by magical power instead of super-soldier serum, his physical attributes are superior to Captain Carter’s (or, indeed, Captain America). There are numerous comic book examples of Brian’s awesome strength in action. Add to that Brian’s high-speed flight, and any super-soldier would be left struggling to cope with Captain Britain.

Related: When Will Doctor Strange 2 Release On Disney+?

Captain Carter holds only two advantages against Brian Braddock, the biggest being her natural strategic mind. Stronger he might be, but Brian was not a born fighter before becoming Captain Britain, choosing an amulet over a sword. On the other hand, Peggy has been raised in the military and possesses keen tactical nous, which could help counter the difference in strength between her and Braddock in the UK’s biggest fight since Oasis took on Blur in the 1990s. Secondly, Peggy’s abilities aren’t dependent on any outside factors, whereas, depending on the era, Captain Britain can be foiled by either removing his suit, taking him to France, or shattering his confidence. If Captain Carter spent an hour or two insulting Brian before their duel began, his self-confidence might weaken enough for Peggy to get the better of Captain Britain. Now there’s an episode of What If…? people would like to see.

Why The MCU Chose Captain Carter Instead Of Captain Britain

Doctor strange multiverse of madness captain carter what if

The most likely reason the MCU chose to introduce Captain Carter over Captain Britain in What If? is Marvel’s reluctance to bring in a whole new character. Peggy Carter has already solidified her place in the MCU across the Captain America movies and in Agents of S.H.I.E.LD., so introducing a new hero just for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness would feel like padding in an already overstuffed roster. Given the multilinear nature of What If…?, Phase 4, and the MCU as a whole, the joy of introducing twists and turns for existing characters is a thematic thread that permeates most Marvel properties. This is not only evidenced by Captain Carter’s big reveal, but also in the upcoming appearance of Jane Foster’s Mighty Thor. It will be intriguing to see how Peggy Carter uses her powers for Doctor Strange 2, as Marvel’s What If…? has already given people a taste of her might. Seeing an MCU newbie like Captain Britain appear, on the other hand, wouldn’t quite have the same impact.

Next: Why Scarlet Witch Is So Different In Doctor Strange 2 From WandaVision

What If…? is available to watch in full on Disney+.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)Release date: May 06, 2022
Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)Release date: Jul 08, 2022
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever/Black Panther 2 (2022)Release date: Nov 11, 2022
The Marvels/Captain Marvel 2 (2023)Release date: Jul 28, 2023
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)Release date: Feb 17, 2023
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)Release date: May 05, 2023

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Craig Elvy
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Craig first began contributing to Screen Rant in 2016, several years after graduating college, and has been ranting ever since, mostly to himself in a darkened room. Having previously written for various sports and music outlets, Craig’s interest soon turned to TV and film, where a steady upbringing of science fiction and comic books finally came into its own.
Craig has previously been published on sites such as Den of Geek, and after many coffee-drenched hours hunched over a laptop, part-time evening work eventually turned into a full-time career covering everything from the zombie apocalypse to the Starship Enterprise via the TARDIS.

Since joining the Screen Rant fold, Craig has been involved in breaking news stories and mildly controversial ranking lists, but now works predominantly as a features writer.
Jim Carrey is Craig’s top acting pick and favorite topics include superheroes, anime and the unrecognized genius of the High School Musical trilogy.

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