What If … Ultron Won?
** Warning! This review contains spoilers for episode 8 of Marvel’s What If …? Series **
Starting this episode of What If, The Watcher welcomes into a universe on the edge of destruction and says this one breaks his heart. In Russia, Black Widow is luring Ultron robots in, and Hawkeye takes them out. Clint has a metal arm and a cloak of invisibility. One of them blows off his metal arm, and Nat saves him with a motorcycle.
In this universe, the Avengers never saved the cradle that made Vision. Instead, Ultron used it to create his organic body. Ultron seemingly kills Tony, Cap, Hulk, and Thor. He also launches all of the nukes in the world, destroying it. It looks like everything they warned us about in the 1950s.
Ultron is checking out the destroyed world from the top of Avengers Tower. Thanos arrives with the gauntlet and five stones, and Ultron just cuts him in half with the mind stone. That answers the question that Twitter had as to how he got the soul stone. He resurrects his army and starts going to other worlds to destroy them. He destroys Asgard, The Sovereign, and the Guardians, Sakaar, Ego. On Xandar he is met by Captain Marvel. She drives him to the core of Xandar, but he uses the stones to destroy her and the planet.
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Ultron has destroyed everyone, and now he has no purpose until he overhears The Watcher. It turns out Ultron can see The Watcher and begins to try and penetrate his world. Watcher says there would be unspeakable damage to the multiverse if Ultron succeeds, but there is “one last hope”.
Clint & Nat are in the KGB archives looking for something to defeat Ultron. Nat finds the Red Guardian shield. The Watcher sees the answer is right beside where Clint is, but Clint gives up right before finding it. Nat finds it without Watcher intervening, even though he was close to getting involved. The answer: Arnim Zola.
Ultron breaks into Watcher’s prism realm and says destroying the chaos in these universes is his purpose. Nat & Clint head to Siberia and upload Zola into an arrow to shoot at the hive. He shoots it into one of the drones, and Nat and him start kicking ass. They haul away the drone, he connects to the hive, and… it doesn’t work as the Ultron hive mind is out of range. Clint is grabbed by Nat as he falls, but he says he doesn’t want to fight anymore, and drops into the Ultron hive mirroring their main universe trip to Vormir. Zola lets Nat know Ultron isn’t in the observable universe
Meanwhile, Watcher is fighting Ultron. Watcher dons a new suit and they brawl through many different universes. In one, Ultron takes the form of Galactus; in another, Steve Rogers is being sworn in as president. Ultron beats The Watcher down, and Ultron says the boundaries of the multiverse are irrelevant to them. He’s about to destroy The Watcher’s brain, but he powers out and escapes. Ultron says he is coming now. Our last shot is The Watcher getting Evil Doctor Strange. Watcher tells him he needs his help.
We are finally getting to our What If multiversal crossover! The Watcher is now getting involved in order to save the order of The Multiverse. We knew that eventually, we would get the team-up of the heroes we had been introduced to through the many weeks, and the time appears to be now. The reveal of Evil Doctor Strange at the end to help The Watcher was fun to see. Now it’s time to bring in T’Challa as Star-Lord, Party Thor, Captain Carter, and more.
The Watcher character was fantastic this week. He is conflicted about getting involved but shows genuine care for the universe. Plus he has a great line while fighting Ultron. The way he says “I’m The Watcher” under his breath made me laugh out loud.
The Not As Good:
If you’re not a fan of dark timelines, this isn’t the episode for you. After a light-hearted reprieve with Party Thor last week, we went right to a dark timeline this week. The whole world was destroyed by nuclear weapons and then Thanos gets cut in half. Hawkeye had to die to give the universe a shot. Tony Stark got two lines of dialogue before getting killed (again). It is a necessary episode as we reach the conclusion, but man was it another dark 30 minutes.
Jeffrey Wright has been great at playing The Watcher as he keeps his distance. He is even better at playing The Watcher when he is pressed by Ultron. Wright is able to balance funny moments (like his despair at Clint not finding the Zola files) with the serious interactions with Ultron.
Speaking of Ultron, props to Ross Marquand for his portrayal of Ultron. This isn’t the first time he’s taken over an MCU villain role. Marquand was also the Red Skull in Avengers: Infinity War. He still brings the same level of righteousness to the role that James Spader did, which is what gives Ultron that special something.
What If …? has episodes dropping every Wednesday on Disney Plus, with the season finale taking place next week.
Evan Gomes is a freelance pop culture & sports writer. Follow him on Twitter at @ItsEvanGomes, and check out his two podcasts: Crossbody of Work and The Pop Capsule Podcast.