Warning: This article contains a burnout of all 8 episodes of Marvel’s What If…?
Much like the comics that inspired him, Marvel’s What If…? It is a series with separate episodes that shows us glimpses of other worlds where the known events took place differently. This was the series’ biggest draw and its biggest drawback. These glimpses of alternate universes are amusing, but is any of this really important to the MCU? As it turns out, it is.
The penultimate episode of Season 1 of What If…? for a deeper plan. There is a broader story extended, but it has not yet emerged. Let’s break down what we know before the final episode of Season 1 and why What If…? A must-see for Marvel Cinematic Universe fans.
Ultron upgrade with infinity stones
Episode 8 introduces a Marvel scientist in which Ultron succeeded in implanting his consciousness into Vision’s body, making him a mighty force that Earth’s mightiest heroes could not stop as he began destroying the world. But this is only the first of two upgrades Ultron will receive in this episode. He quickly splits Thanos in half and acquires the five remaining Infinity Stones, which turns him into an all-knowing superpower. He even becomes able to see through the barriers separating the universes and feel Uatu watching over him.
This is the moment that changes everything for What If…?. Uatu is no longer a passive observer of alternate universes, but a person whose very existence is in jeopardy. Like many scientists before him, Uatu learns the hard way that you cannot observe an experiment without affecting it. In this case, he transforms the already unstoppable Ultron into a villain who seeks to wipe out all life in the multiverse.
Although Episode 8 isn’t the first episode to have a suspenseful, suspenseful ending, it’s the first to build on the previous chapters in a real and tangible way. We now know why Episode VII ends with the Ultron/Vision hybrid attacking Thor and Jane Foster. Ultron has evolved into the series’ true villain, and that threat continues to grow as the conclusion approaches.
Episode VIII appears to be violating traditional Marvel traditions when it comes to the Infinity Stones. The stones are not supposed to function outside the limits of their original being. Even in Loki, we saw that these stones are nothing more than a weight of cards in the world of TVA. Is this a mistake in the continuity of the story, or did Ultron find a way to use their power in any universe? If the answer is the latter, it may play a role in how this killer robot is defeated. If the power supply is cut off, things will suddenly be equal again.
Uatu is not an observer anymore?
Whether or not Ultron is defeated in the Season 1 finale, it’s reasonable to assume that this high-stakes battle will have a profound effect on Uatu. He can no longer just sit back and watch and pretend that his life isn’t caught in the tangled web of those he’s watching. He was forced to violate the central creed of the Watchers: Watch, but never interfere.
Uatu in the comics has a habit of cheating or breaking that rule completely when he feels the situation is horrific enough. It all started long ago in his original appearance in the Fantastic Four comics, where he was the one who warned the FF that Galactus was coming to devour the Earth. Episode 8 seems to pave the way for the start of this story in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
This could be the beginning of a bigger story for Uatu in the series. After realizing that he cannot sit back and watch the universe without interfering, he may begin to take matters into his own hands to intervene in other crises. Season 2 could revolve around episodes in which Uatu “fixes” things, only to have his interventions inadvertently accumulate consequences over the course of multiple episodes. He may have to learn the hard way that there is a satisfying middle ground between “never interfering” and “playing God in the multiverse.”
The real question is whether this might have motivated Uatu’s appearance in real-life films. Could we see him suddenly appear with a terrible warning about Kang in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania or the advent of Galactus in Fantastic Four?
It also remains to be seen what continuing role the various alternate universe heroes will play in the series. Episode 8 suggests that Uatu will have to put together a team to fight Ultron, beginning with the String Supreme, and possibly including other familiar faces like Captain Carter and Thor from Episode VII. Can this team stay active in season two? Could it be that the series essentially presents the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Exiles, a team tasked with protecting the multiverse in the comics? It is definitely one possibility.
Arnim Zola’s surprise return
In addition to emphasizing a deeper and continuing story in the series, Episode 8 has other fascinating implications for the MCU. Here we learn that Arnum Zola’s digital consciousness was not destroyed in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, because a second backup still exists at the Hydra base in Siberia seen in Captain America: Civil War.
Obviously, this episode doesn’t take place in the main MCU, but is there any reason to assume that the same didn’t happen in that universe either? It’s quite possible that there’s a version of Zola still out there in the MCU, waiting for the right time for Hydra or another organization to reboot it back up. Zola seems like a logical choice to be a villain for the upcoming fourth Captain America movie or a new season of Captain America and the Winter Soldier.
If this happens, What If…? It would have paved the way for Zola’s return. This is enough to wonder what other hidden surprises the creators of this series might hide. Could there be other hints about upcoming plot twists in the movies? If the prospect of a more coherent, sequential storyline isn’t enough incentive for you to keep watching, the suspense of the future of the MCU might be enough.