Multiverse Implications From What If…? Episode 8
Disney’s What If asks one of the most important questions we can ask of fiction: What if cool stuff was also really sad. What if…?” Episode 8 started with a simple enough premise: What if Ultron won? And things got multiverse-y real fast, culminating with a Dragon Ball Z-style brawl between Infinity Ultron and The Watcher himself. Other than being really cool to watch, this episode also has some significant implications for the MCU.
What If Ultron Won?
What If…? Episode 8 sees Ultron wipe the Earth clean with the grim efficiency of someone who just saw every YouTube comment ever written at the same time. Ultron follows his movie path, coming to the conclusion that life should be wiped out. This time, he gets to keep his organic vibranium body, and it’s all over pretty quickly after that. The only survivors we get to see are Hawkeye, Black Widow, and their unlikely companion Arnim Zola, the only AI left that might be able to beat Ultron. Hawkeye sacrifices himself in a reverse of the Soul Stone scene but this time with more robots and explosions, and then we go back to Ultron.
After annihilating civilization in a wave of nuclear fire, Ultron stands on the ruins of Stark Tower. Thanos appears out of a portal, Infinity Gauntlet almost fully powered, and Ultron slices Thanos in half to show Worf-effect style just how powerful Sacred Timeline Ultron nearly was. Ultron seizes the infinity stones, merges with them, and goes on a universal killing spree. He Ragnoroks Asgard, takes out Gamora and Starlord, blows up a few planets including EGO, and wipes out a small solar system in his fight with Captain Marvel. And then, while standing alone in the ruins of an empty universe, he hears The Watcher’s voice.
Image via Disney+
What If…? Episode 8 Breaks Into the Multiverse
Infinity Ultron punches his way into the area between space and time and confronts The Watcher. In seeing the scope of the multiverse, Ultron’s little AI heart perks up, and he drops this line “So many universes. So much chaos. They need to be silenced,” which is such a good villain line. Simple, direct, and full of murder. Then we get to see something that doesn’t happen much in the comics and certainly hasn’t happened in the MCU. The Watcher is thrown from his hidden place. Then Ultron kicks his ass.
The two fight across the multiverse, shattering their way through different realities. It’s visually stunning and deeply concerning seeing The Watcher, who has previously been this distant being of incredible power, get smashed into the ground. It’s like seeing Hulk lose in arm wrestling or Wolverine encounter any strong magnet. One of the stronger forces in the multiverse nearly has his head shattered. He escapes to a tiny dome of safety with the super-powered nightmare Dr. Strange from What If…? episode 4. There, he asks for help.
Image via Marvel Studios/Disney+
Implications for the MCU
There’s a lot going on in this episode, and even though nothing in What If…? happens during the Sacred Timeline, it does have some significant implications for the MCU. Now there are two universe-hopping super-beings out and about, and both of them could make huge stir just by appearing in the Sacred Timeline.
The Watcher popping into the MCU would continue the theme of connecting the movies and shows to the greater Marvel mythos. We’ve seen celestial heads and the subtle mention of some of greater powers, but not much more. The first Dr. Strange movie had a relic named after The Living Tribunal, and there was a little statue of them before the shot of the Thanos Copter in Loki. But there hasn’t been that much more going on in the MCU. This could be yet another way of adding some chaos, madness even, to the multiverse that we’re going to see.
And now Ultron can just joust his way into another universe. Even though the infinity stones wouldn’t work outside of his own universe and he’d be severely nerfed, he’s still Ultron in the body of The Vision. He’s still the Ultron that beat all the avengers lasered Thanos in half. If nothing else, this would put a cool villain who died too soon back into play. It would also mean there’s two Vision bodies floating around ready to ruin any progress Scarlet Witch has made working with a grief counsellor.
Would you be happy to see Ultron return to the main MCU timeline? Tell us about it in the comments below!
Featured image via Disney+
Jessica Kanzler lives with her wife and cats and enjoys obsessively reading fantasy and talking about writing with anyone who won't run away. Jessica has an MA in Rhetoric, Writing, and Digital Media studies, and one of her students once said she “wasn’t cool, but was clearly trying.”