What If…?: What’s hidden in plain sight in episode 8

Ultron in Marvel Studios' WHAT IF...? exclusively on Disney+. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.
Ultron in Marvel Studios' WHAT IF...? exclusively on Disney+. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved. /
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What If...?, What If...? season 1, What If...? episode 8, What If...? season 1 episode 8, How to watch What If...? online, Disney Plus live stream
Ultron in Marvel Studios’ WHAT IF…? exclusively on Disney+. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved. /

References, callbacks, and a few continuity errors abound in the penultimate episode of the inaugural season of What If…?

The eighth episode of Disney +‘s What If…? was definitely several first’s for the animated series. It was the first time since Thanos that we’ve seen a villain so definitively defeat the heroes. It’s the first time someone other than the Watcher (Jeffrey Wright) narrated the closing of an episode. It’s the first time we learn Clint Barton’s middle name is actually “Francis” (and he better hope Deadpool doesn’t find out). But more importantly, it’s the first time in which we see the Watcher not only scared for his life, but also forced to break his vow of non-interference.

Yes, as the sudden ending from the previous episode promised, “What If… Ultron Won?” definitely shows that an Ultron (voiced by Ross Marquand) in possession of the Infinity Stones really does pose a cosmic level threat. After all, if you’re going about linking all the previous episodes of the first season together, what better than an insane Artificial Intelligence convinced that true peace can only be achieved through the eradication of all sentient beings?

And while they did appear scant this time around, the Easter Eggs and references towards other Marvel comics and movies – and a few outside of Marvel – were used to great effect. Even so, there’s also a few, shall we say, continuity errors which took place, as well. Not to worry, as your humble writer will be pointing these out and then some (so SPOILERS in case you haven’t watched the episode yet). We shall start off by taking a look at…

The Real Age of Ultron

As you may already know, Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) took it’s subtitle from an existing Marvel Comic limited series and event. What you may not know is that the cinematic version of Age of Ultron didn’t at all resemble the actual plot from that series. But with “What If… Ultron Won?”, we get a more faithful adaptation of that comic, or at least the basic set-up.

In 2013’s Age of Ultron by Brian Michael Bendis and Bryan Hitch, readers are presented with a post-apocalyptic Marvel Universe in which Ultron takes over the world, and humanity is on the brink of extinction. Various Ultron drones patrol the skies. Ultron has taken over The Vision’s programming. Most of the world’s superheroes and villains have been killed, as well, leaving only a ragtag group of survivors, which include Hawkeye and Black Widow.

However, unlike what we see in What If…?, there are other heroes with Clint and Natasha, including Spider-Man, Captain America, Luke Cage, the Fantastic Four’s Invisible Woman, and Wolverine. Those last two wind up being crucial, as they’re key to Ultron’s ultimate defeat. That’s because the way the heroes stop Ultron is not unlike what the Avengers do in Avengers: Endgame (2019), in that they send Wolverine and Invisible Woman back in time to prevent Ultron from being created in the first place… which, of course, causes a whole new set of problems as this mucks up the space-time continuum.