*Warning: This piece contains spoilers for episode eight of What If…?*
Finally! The Watcher (Jeffrey Wright) intervened, as the Multiverse is now in chaos! We’ve been waiting for this moment since the character was introduced in the first episode of What If…? Now it looks like there will be significant ramifications for the future of the MCU and its Multiverse of madness. An anthological series with variations of familiar characters of the franchise could only go so far enough before it became tedious–and it did pretty quickly. With the arrival of Ultron (Ross Marquand) in the mix, What If…? will have an overarching story and set up the Avengers of the Multiverse! It was teased in the trailer, but as an isolated episode, though now it looks like breadcrumbs could be foreshadowed for future character appearances, and maybe not in animated form.
By the way, this is what Avengers: Age of Ultron should’ve been (sans Joss Whedon). Finally, Ultron gets his wish and takes control of Vision (Paul Bettany), kills every single Avenger except Natasha Romanoff (Lake Bell) and Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), and also manages to cut Thanos (Josh Brolin) in half even if The Mad Titan has five of the six Infinity Stones.
That moment solidifies Ultron as a legitimate threat that every audience member should take seriously and makes him infinitely better than whatever the hell he was doing in Age of Ultron. James Spader was pitifully wasted as yet another disposable villain, who barely had a shred of menace imbuing in his eyes. In contrast, Ultron’s variant is a hundred times scarier than his first appearance in the MCU, though not voiced by Spader. It’s a shame Spader didn’t reprise his role, but Marquand does an excellent job here sounding exactly like him (he’s a skillful impersonator and could’ve voiced Tony Stark, as the soundalike, they hired sounds nothing like Robert Downey Jr. and feels quite distracting) and finally giving Ultron his iconic status in the MCU canon he so rightfully deserves!
As the sentient robot becomes more powerful, it’s able to discover the intricacies of the Multiverse, and The Watcher, which other characters can’t see (except for Doctor Strange Supreme, but we’ll get to that in a minute). Once Ultron discovers The Watcher and The Multiverse, he wants to destroy every single alternate universe to bring about “peace” to the world–and by peace, he means destroying everything until there’s nothing left but himself and himself only. Smart. However, The Watcher now has to face a moral plight that he never had to do until now: even if he watched cataclysm after cataclysm without interfering, the Multiverse’s fate is now at play. It could have significant repercussions in the future. So he’ll either directly interfere or see how it plays out and potentially destroy all forms of life and its variants.
As Barton and Romanoff retrieve a file about Arnim Zola (Toby Jones), he almost interferes but sees it play out to great success. But when Ultron threatens the entire Multiverse and pits himself and The Watcher into a dimension-shifting battle, our guide can’t sit back and watch (heh, pun intended) as he did in the past seven episodes. He’ll then travel to the world where Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) destroyed out of love for Christine (Rachel McAdams) and enlist his help. Next week’s episode is set in motion, and the overarching story has finally been revealed.
And as a result, What If…? finally becomes something more significant than its initial concept—and will be an even better series in the process. Next week’s finale is gearing up to be great and could further open the Multiverse to new and exciting horizons. Remember: The Multiverse Saga is only beginning, and so many things are in store for us next. Let’s see what happens first with the finale and see Venom: Let There Be Carnage in the meantime.