Following the final scene in the Thor episode, Ultron is back within the MCU through a new hypothetical scenario within Disney+’s What If…?. In one of the only episodes of this first season that picked up in another alternate timeline left off, Ultron returns to the screen by succeeding in his plan laid out in Age of Ultron, where the Avengers are not able to steal the bodily form Ultron created with the Mind Stone incorporated in it. The co-production project of Marvel Studios and Disney+ finds itself managing an alternate reality if Ultron defeated the Avengers, Thanos, and Earth in general, leaving only Natasha Romanoff, Black Widow, and Clint Barton, or Hawkeye, left to combat him on this nuclear wasteland.
In this eighth episode of What If…?, Marvel audiences and fans are greeted to the actors returning to their Marvel roles with Jeremy Renner (Wind River) reprising his superhero role as Hawkeye. Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) returns as Dr. Strange in addition to Toby Jones (Frost/Nixon) as Arnim Zola, and Ross Marquand (The Walking Dead) as Ultron, replacing James Spader (Blacklist) and in lieu of his previous role as Red Skull.
Following Ultron’s successful integration into the vibranium body form, Ultron has set on deploying all the nuclear bombs on top of Earth. After he destroys what is left of humanity, he is encountered by Thanos where he quickly dispatches him and takes the remaining Infinity Stones, and transforms the surrounding area and debris into armed robot soldiers. The episode bounces around to explore Ultron’s desire to destroy other worlds such as Xandar and Ego in his quest to complete the Age of Ultron. During the process, he kills Captain Marvel and many surrounding planets. Gaining a higher level of consciousness, Ultron discovers The Watcher and sets his desire on uncovering access to this nature to take over. In a breaking the fourth wall instance, The Watcher, once more voiced by Jeffrey Wright (Westworld) propositions the remaining heroes of Romanoff and Barton as the only ones to save the multiverse.
The Watcher shows a desire to intervene and direct the duo to Armin Zola’s remaining files of his being in order to plug into Ultron and corrupt his mind. However, Ultron has cracked the code into The Watcher’s position and leads to a further desire to crush the various universes. Unfortunately, the plan of Barton and Romanoff fails as their upload does not compute due to Ultron being removed from their original universe. The episode takes its turn as Ultron’s discovery of the multiverse leads to a battle with The Watcher in which he retreats to find the dark version of Dr. Strange in order to help his cause and ultimately save the multiverse.
“What If…Ultron Won?” provides a new and fun alternative to Marvel characters and his interactions with the timelines. Finally, The Watcher’s state of being is brought into question, and, furthermore, the anthology series has presented a unique case of continuity. The episode’s animation does a stellar job with the nuclear wasteland aesthetic of Earth as well as the varying travels through the multiverse and The Watcher’s place of origin. It is a fun episode in which it returns a villain to the screen that has otherwise been forgotten within the MCU lore. However, unlike other What If…? episodes, this one allows for a motivation to be presented in a brand new introduction phase.
The eighth episode proposes what is to come for the season one finale as it suggests that audiences might continue along this Ultron trip towards the destruction of the multiverse. Although it has previously been fun to explore the new and different timelines from week to week, this does give a breath of fresh air into the What If…? canon where The Watcher can ultimately get involved and these stories can play out and cross over with one another. The episode serves as a venture into this notion for the future of the series, or at least the season. It may be serving as a feeder episode into the season finale, but does bring up the same desperation ending that fans and audiences are attracted to the most such as the closing moments of Infinity War.