Marvel's What If...? has been full of surprises throughout its first six episodes, but it appears that the animated anthology series has an even bigger trick up its sleeve.
On September 14, Marvel Studios released a midseason trailer that hinted at which MCU stories would be the focus of season 1's final four episodes. The sixth entry, centered around Eric Killmonger, arrived on Wednesday, September 15 – an episode that the midseason trailer, and others before it, have teased.
It appears, though, that What If...? is preparing for a major spectacle for its season 1 finale: a multiversal Avengers team up comprising heroes from its other eight episodes. And there's plenty of evidence to suggest that this will be the case.
First, let's check out What If...?'s midseason teaser:
From the outset, it's likely that some sort of superhero team up will occur in What If...?'s first season. The trailer image that greets us shows Supreme Doctor Strange and a version of Thor, known as 'Party Thor', looking out onto an undisclosed location.
There are two things to note here: first, Supreme Doctor Strange has escaped from his universe. As you'll remember, Strange destroyed his universe when he brought his girlfriend Christine back from the dead.
In doing so, he overrode what's known as an "absolute point" in his universe's timeline. Christine was supposed to die in his dimension and, in bringing her back, he broke the rules. As such, his universe collapses in on itself and traps him alone forever.
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Seeing that Strange has escaped his prison is, well, strange. As The Watcher revealed at the end of Supreme Doctor Strange's episode, he shouldn't have been able to leave his reality – unless someone has freed him. More on this later.
Next, we have Party Thor conversing with Strange. We haven't seen Party Thor's What If...? episode yet. But, given that every What If...? episode will tell stories in universes that are separate from one another, the duo shouldn't share screen time at all.
Skip on to the 0:33 mark and you'll actually see Strange and Thor interact for a second or two. "Zombies! Great idea!" Thor says to Strange, who has presumably unleashed the undead hordes on the currently unknown threat. This is a call back to the show's fourth episode, a.k.a its Zombies entry, which cements the idea that What If...?'s numerous universes are about to collide, or its superheroes are about to join forces.
There's more evidence to suggest that this will be the case, too. Cut to the 0:22 mark of the midseason trailer, and there are five of What If...?'s multiversal heroes standing in a circle that's very similar to the Avengers' iconic stance in their 2012 MCU movie.
We see Black Widow, Captain Carter, Star-Lord T'Challa, Gamora (in armor similar to Thanos' from Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame) and Party Thor standing in the ruins of what appears to be New York. Captain Carter, in particular, has a worried look on her face, which suggests something big is about to go down.
Black Widow is the key character in this shot. She's only shown briefly as the camera pans around the other superheroes, but we see that she's wearing some heavy duty armor. We catch a glimpse of Black Widow in said armor on two more occasions. One takes place at the 0:58 mark where she throws Captain Carter's shield at someone off screen. Again, this is set amid the ruins of New York, so it must happen in the same timeline as the panoramic shot that we mentioned in the above paragraph.
The other requires you to cut back to the 0:09 mark of the trailer. You'll also see Black Widow take out two robots with her motorcycle before the next shot shows her braking (on her bike) whilst wearing the same armor.
This is the most interesting aspect of the trailer to us. The robots that she kills are extremely similar in style to Ultron, the big bad of 2015 Marvel movie Avengers: Age of Ultron.
What does this imply? In one of the Marvel multiverse's other realities, Ultron must have defeated (and potentially killed some of) the Avengers. With nobody capable of stopping the sentient A.I humanoid, Ultron looks like it's now the ruler of the world.
We catch a couple of glimpses at Ultron in action in the midseason trailer. One, at the 1:17 mark, sees the robot being thrown backwards by Mjolnir, Thor's hammer, as the God of Thunder swings it at Ultron. The second, at the 1:19 mark, shows Ultron leading his robot army out into the world to presumably conquer it.
So it's possible that Ultron will be the supervillain that this multiversal Avengers line-up has to stop. But, if they exist in parallel dimensions to each other, and can't cross over into one another's universes, how can they join forces? And, more to the point, why would they need to do so?
We think we know why: because Ultron's threat is so great that it threatens the multiverse itself.
In the second Avengers movie, Ultron is able to hack into the internet at lightning speeds, leading him to uncovering every awful moment in humanity's history and making a decision to destroy humanity itself.
So Ultron has the capacity to learn things extremely quickly and make decisions in an instant. There's every chance, then, that he becomes aware of the Marvel multiverse's existence in some way. If he realizes that there are an infinite number of universes, all of which contain humans, he'll want to travel to each one to destroy their human populations.
However, doing so would threaten the multiverse's existence. Ultron doesn't have the authority to kill every human in universes outside of his own, but that won't stop him from trying. If he's successful, he could cause every other universe to collapse in on itself, just like Supreme Doctor Strange's dimension did in episode four.
In our view, all of this will lead to one major decision being made in What If...?'s finale: The Watcher will have to interfere.
As the omnipotent cosmic being keeps telling us, he has the jurisdiction to step in and alter the course of events, but he chooses not to interfere.
In Supreme Doctor Strange's episode, for example, The Watcher could have stopped Strange from amassing all of that magical power and turning evil, but he didn't. He could have saved Strange's universe when Strange pleaded for him to do so, too, but The Watcher chose not to on that occasion.
If Ultron threatens the existence of the multiverse, though, that's a completely different scenario. The Watcher will have to act to preserve every other universe outside of the one that Ultron has already conquered.
How could he do this? By grabbing superheroes from alternate dimensions and using them to stop Ultron. That would mean Captain Carter, Supreme Doctor Strange and company traveling to Ultron's universe tasked with defeating it.
The Watcher could even offer them a deal if they agree to help. He could send Captain Carter back to the 1940s to be with Steve Rogers, or save Supreme Doctor Strange's universe, as a reward if they help him stop Ultron from exacting multiversal genocide.
Of course, we could be completely wrong in our assertions. This is purely speculation on our part, based on What If...?'s midseason trailer, and we have no insider knowledge. But we can't help thinking this is where season 1 is heading. The puzzle pieces are there, and it'll be interesting to see if we're right.
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As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.
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