What If...?: What If... Ultron Won?
September 29, 2021 7:00 AM - Season 1, Episode 8 - Subscribe

Uh... hail Skynet, I guess?

Big Baldy throws a heck of a punch. A bit light on the original actors VAing (Ross Marquand, who also took over for Hugo Weaving as Red Skull in the last two Avengers movies, VAs Ultron), but Toby Jones is back.
posted by Halloween Jack (56 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
I wish Vision had thought of that when Thanos showed up.

What exactly was the point of the Black Widow/Hawkeye storyline? One, it was surprisingly easy to convince Armin Zola that the world has been destroyed, but two, all they did was upload him into one drone? Who cares about going directly after Ultron, maybe try hacking these other drones trying to kill you? Gotta assume he will be the macguffin that finally defeats this Ultron, otherwise there's literally no point to their plotline.

I assume Ultron entering party Thor universe is what happened right after he was left alone in Uatu's, uh, cool hallway.

Uatu's Avengers:
- Captain Carter
- Evil Doctor Strange
- Starlord T'Challa (and friends)
- Zombie Thanos
- Uh, Killmonger Ascendant maybe? Or Pepper/Shuri?

Who Uatu should get instead:
- 35 Captain Marvel variants
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 8:57 AM on September 29 [10 favorites]


I am not so sure that every Captain Marvel we've witnesses so far isn't the same *single* one tbh.
posted by Faintdreams at 9:41 AM on September 29 [3 favorites]


I still care not a single jot about Hawkeye so a lot of this fell flat for me, although I do admit to having my curiosity piqued about his cybernetic arm.
posted by Faintdreams at 9:42 AM on September 29 [3 favorites]


Is it just me or was presentation of scale weird in this one?

I couldn't figure out how tall The Watcher is supposed to be - or more importantly how Ginormous his Noggin actually is - untill he was standing next to *spoiler* at the end.

Also UltronVision mishmash sometimes felt 7 feet tall and at others like 20?. It was disorientating.
posted by Faintdreams at 9:44 AM on September 29 [1 favorite]


I do admit to having my curiosity piqued about his cybernetic arm.

It may be an oblique reference to DC Comics' The Dark Knight Returns, in which Oliver "Green Arrow" Queen is missing an arm in an alternate future.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:31 AM on September 29 [1 favorite]


To quote my wife, "I'm always here for Thanos getting owned like a chump."

Otherwise yeah, not one of my faves.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:46 AM on September 29 [2 favorites]


That was 30 minutes of meh. Felt like the worst type of filler/setup episode, ie we have to keep watching to get any resolution. But there’s no characters to really care about, other than Nat.

That said, a lot of the images were good, such a vUltron chowing down a galaxy.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:47 AM on September 29 [1 favorite]


I guess Nat and Hawkeye were a way to introduce how bad this vUltron universe is, but they could have done just as well picking up directly from him showing up in Party Thor's universe, then circling around back to tell the backstory of how he wrecked his universe as he wrecks this new universe.

I did like that Uatu's hand was forced. I think he still wouldn't have lifted a finger if not for vUltron coming directly for his ass, and it also helps explain why he was apparently unconcerned with the previous order of the Multiverse: a vast organization enforcing one strict timeline with no variations. Maybe he didn't even exist during the reign of the TVA (or, if we take the cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 seriously, he existed as a lesser being).
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 11:27 AM on September 29


they could have done just as well picking up directly from him showing up in Party Thor's universe, then circling around back to tell the backstory of how he wrecked his universe as he wrecks this new universe.

"I suppose you're wondering how I got here."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:01 PM on September 29 [3 favorites]


I thought this was fantastic! The visuals were wild and (for the MCU) adventurous. Plus there were funny moments handled well.
posted by sixswitch at 1:47 PM on September 29 [1 favorite]


Guess I'm just wondering why Ultron needed a cape?
posted by Catblack at 2:41 PM on September 29 [3 favorites]


The visuals were wild and (for the MCU) adventurous

Kirby Dots aplenty.
posted by mikelieman at 2:56 PM on September 29 [4 favorites]


Guess I'm just wondering why Ultron needed a cape?

You can't running around the multiverse just in any old thing, you need to look sharp!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:56 PM on September 29 [7 favorites]


This was a risky episode in that whereas so many previous episodes play out the hypothetical but then stop abruptly before the real story begins, this one covers the hypothetical in a 30 second montage and dives straight into the real story. It felt like episode 8 of a series that hadn’t just been an anthology for seven episodes, or like two extended action scenes at the top of a movie’s Act 3. But I liked it!

The one thing that didn’t sit well with me was the Watcher brawling. It’s a hilarious running theme in the MCU (and I suppose all superhero movies) that no matter how much limitless cosmic power the combatants have, it always comes down to them punching each other. But the Watcher I grew up with would never stoop to fisticuffs! (He’d do something passive aggressive like send the Human Torch on an odyssey through space and time to fetch the Ultimate Nullifier so Mr. Fantastic could bluff you with it.)

Looking forward to the finale, and if Ultron does continue to rampage across the multiverse, he better watch out for a whole mess of Kangs.
posted by ejs at 6:01 PM on September 29 [2 favorites]


The chaotic, continuous motion of a cape is like a multiversal radar scrambler, creating many tiny variant universes with different fabric movements. A bunch of captive butterflies would work similarly but is considered less practical and less intimidating.
posted by sixswitch at 6:03 PM on September 29 [5 favorites]


I didn't really dig this, despite some good voice work -- Jeffrey Wright is always great, but I love Lake Bell as Black Widow, and of course Toby Jones is always welcome. I think this is way too soon in the life of this show to make The Watcher an active participant, and honestly, it played a little silly to me. I found myself imagining a Twilight Zone where Rod Serling was jumped by Talky Tina in the middle of his closing monologue, or carried away kicking and screaming by the aliens from "To Serve Man."

On the plus side, I thought the animation in the opening scene was nice stuff.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:33 PM on September 29 [2 favorites]


Guess I'm just wondering why Ultron needed a cape?

Doctor Manhattan: well, don't just stop with getting rid of the cape, friend.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:01 PM on September 29


THIS is the one Uatu found MOST depressing.

I do like this Black Widow voice here.

"Your MEEMAW?!"

TIME TO INTERFERE!!!!!!
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:51 PM on September 29


you need to look sharp!

Sure, but when you're a Watcher who's sworn an oath only to observe, never to interefere, you gotta have no illusions.
posted by The Tensor at 12:32 AM on September 30


The continuity of this episode is a bit confusing. At the end of the last episode, Ultron appears, clearly having crossed the multidimensional void somehow. In this episode, Ultron becomes aware of the multidimensional void, and attacks the watcher to get access to it. Huh? Was that Ultron a different Ultron with access to the multidimensional void? Can you cross dimensions without going through the Watcher's realm?

All a little confusing. As others said, did the Watcher even exist when the TVA did? What was he doing then?
posted by Cannon Fodder at 1:46 AM on September 30 [1 favorite]


So Ultron can see through different multiverses, but he can't detect the presence of Nat and Clint? And what did they eat, and drink? Who was making all of Clint's arrows?

Maybe it's just because I really don't care much about Hawkeye, but I didn't care too much for this one.
posted by synecdoche at 3:50 AM on September 30 [1 favorite]


Guess I'm just wondering why Ultron needed a cape?

PRESENTATION!
posted by radwolf76 at 4:00 AM on September 30 [2 favorites]


So Ultron can see through different multiverses, but he can't detect the presence of Nat and Clint?

The Hubble telescope can read a piece on the Moon (or some such), but can't focus on piece of paper sitting next to it.

And what did they eat, and drink?

Sweet, sweet vengeance.

Who was making all of Clint's arrows?

Honestly, he probably has caches of arrows all over the word.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:03 AM on September 30 [5 favorites]


Fake James Spader sounded like he was doing a bad Fake Agent Smith, though that at least felt on brand with Actual Benedict Cumberbatch doing a mediocre Fake Benedict Cumberbatch voice

I did like the part where they crashed through a bunch of Yes album covers
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:14 AM on September 30 [12 favorites]


Fake James Spader sounded like he was doing a bad Fake Agent Smith

Funny enough, the guy who did Fake James Spader was also the guy who did Fake Red Skull in Infinity War and Endgame, so maybe Fake Hugo Weaving is the only impression in his repertoire.
posted by ejs at 6:18 AM on September 30 [7 favorites]


I'm weirded out by how they've superimposed Jeffrey Wright's facial features on to the Watcher's freaky head.
posted by jordemort at 6:33 AM on September 30 [4 favorites]


Also, is it just me, or did this episode drop into hand-drawn animation for one of the epic explosion scenes? Was that tribute to some anime or something?
posted by jordemort at 6:34 AM on September 30


I found myself imagining a Twilight Zone where Rod Serling was jumped by Talky Tina in the middle of his closing monologue, or carried away kicking and screaming by the aliens from "To Serve Man."

Okay but you have to admit if they ever pulled that trigger in The Twilight Zone it would be rad as hell.

The continuity of this episode is a bit confusing. At the end of the last episode, Ultron appears, clearly having crossed the multidimensional void somehow. In this episode, Ultron becomes aware of the multidimensional void, and attacks the watcher to get access to it. Huh? Was that Ultron a different Ultron with access to the multidimensional void? Can you cross dimensions without going through the Watcher's realm?

I have to assume this episode takes place directly before Ultron walks into Party Thor's universe. Like, rolling up on Party Thor is the first thing Ultron does after the end of this episode. Also I assume the Watcher's realm (AKA cool hallway) is somewhere orthogonal to the boundaries between universes, so it's between them and also not between them simultaneously. You can choose to go through his realm or not.

The chaotic, continuous motion of a cape is like a multiversal radar scrambler, creating many tiny variant universes with different fabric movements. A bunch of captive butterflies would work similarly but is considered less practical and less intimidating.

What about a fresh cup of really hot tea?
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:06 AM on September 30 [6 favorites]


I have to assume this episode takes place directly before Ultron walks into Party Thor's universe. Like, rolling up on Party Thor is the first thing Ultron does after the end of this episode.

But then the Watcher seems surprised by Ultron turning up in that episode, and sort of shrugs it off with an "oh dear". I guess the answer is that these episodes aren't necessarily happening linearly in time to one another, but it makes it a bit confusing to follow.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 8:01 AM on September 30 [1 favorite]


That's a good point. I suppose it would have to involve some manner of nonlinear time, after all it's not like The Watcher would be able to watch everything if he's gotta do it linearly. Still makes for a more confusing plot to follow, though, since in fact humans DO have to experience time linearly.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 8:25 AM on September 30 [1 favorite]


This was all pretty well foreshadowed with the lingering on Demon Doctor Strange in his episode and with Infinity Ultron showing up in the Thor one. Still, it seems like something you're better off saving for a Season 2; it would be nice to go a full run with only standalone episodes where the watcher truly does not interfere.

Maybe they didn't think there's enough material for a What If S2, that it's something you can only slot in every 3 phases or so?

Ultron sucks as a villain in his movie, and he sucks as a 'grey goo' antagonist here too. There's not much pathos in a cybernetic vacuum that just wants to suck up all the good guys for no particular reason. They're gonna have this problem with Kang, too: in a multiverse of unlimited timelines, how do you make it interesting that someone just wants to destroy/enslave/? as many as possible.

I'm also worried by the implication that Thanos was basically the best case scenario for an Infinity Gauntlet wielder. His ambitions were limited, but anyone else might have had an easy time destroying the universe outright, maybe even accidentally.
posted by tjgrathwell at 9:43 AM on September 30


It does seem like Thanos could be killed by anybody at all, at any time. But he's still not as destructible as Tony Stark, who I fully expect to see die of an infected toenail before this is all over and done with.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:50 AM on September 30


I felt like Hawkeye falling to his death while Nat gets away was fan service for all of us who are still miffed at how Nat died in the 199999 universe.
It was also just as pointless.
posted by signal at 10:59 AM on September 30 [5 favorites]


I also feel like this isn't setting up so season 2 of What If but leading into whatever is going to be the big thing in Phase 4 as a whole.
posted by signal at 11:04 AM on September 30 [1 favorite]


Especially since the next 2 movies (at least) are specifically about multi-versal shenanigans.
posted by signal at 11:06 AM on September 30


I'm really enjoying Lake Bell as Nat, probably even more than ScarJo as Nat. Hopefully in season 2, they'll have an episode that builds off the post-party scene in A:AoU where Nat declines to try her hand at lifting Mjolnir, but in one reality tries... and succeeds, and what that means for her character and developments from there. It'd also be a nice parallel on the rumors of Jane Foster's journey in the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder.

I think this season is all building to setup an MCU version of Exiles, probably with the EldritchHorrorStrange in the driver's seat in place of the Timebroker. If the Exiles is up and running successfully, The Watcher can drop breadcrumbs for them to solve multiversal threats and rationalize it as almost non-interference.
posted by Fiberoptic Zebroid and The Hypnagogic Jerks at 1:34 PM on September 30




Still makes for a more confusing plot to follow, though, since in fact humans DO have to experience time linearly.

"Mr. Stark, remember that movie, Interstellar?"
posted by mikelieman at 3:04 PM on September 30 [4 favorites]


so are we not going to talk about hawkeye's invisibility cloak in the opening sequence or
like seriously, I'm pretty sure the Ultron sentries can see infrared, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Odin adopted Loki to try and bring peace between Asgard and the frost giants, but last week it turned out that Thor's brand of Margarita Diplomacy was vastly more effective (with the giants, and with Surtur as well). Now we find out that in principle, Vision could have won the Infinity War simply by lasering Thanos in half. Each new alternative is an indictment of the original timeline.

And yes, there's some non-linear time going on here (which I guess goes with the territory when you're in the multiverse). Ultron Supreme breaks out of his native universe, then attacks the Watcher, then enters the Party Timeline, and then the Watcher acts like he's never seen Ultron before and is still safe in his prism-thing.

Can't describe how pleased I am that we're finally getting Skynet Zola. I always wondered why he propagated only his algorithm into the internet, and not the rest of himself with it. Turns out a) they were saving that idea for AoU and b) he needed Hawkeye's help all along I guess
posted by queen anne's remorse at 4:47 PM on September 30


I found myself imagining a Twilight Zone where Rod Serling was jumped by Talky Tina in the middle of his closing monologue, or carried away kicking and screaming by the aliens from "To Serve Man."
Okay but you have to admit if they ever pulled that trigger in The Twilight Zone it would be rad as hell.
They did this in the episode " A World of His Own."
posted by Tabitha Someday at 5:49 PM on September 30 [4 favorites]


So they did! And you know what? It was rad as hell!
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:56 PM on September 30


Hopefully in season 2, they'll have an episode that builds off the post-party scene in A:AoU where Nat declines to try her hand at lifting Mjolnir, but in one reality tries... and succeeds, and what that means for her character and developments from there.

You may want to do an appropriate GIS for that.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:25 PM on September 30


It’s a hilarious running theme in the MCU (and I suppose all superhero movies) that no matter how much limitless cosmic power the combatants have, it always comes down to them punching each other.

In the comics, sometimes they'll have a caption saying something like this is the best a human mind can do trying to witness a conflict taking place at multiple incomprehensible layers of reality. We see at least a little bit of that idea here when Ultron attacks the Watcher by eating the entire galaxy. But even that makes the conflict way too small.

The one thing that didn’t sit well with me was the Watcher brawling.

Yes, they really didn't set that up well at all. Suddenly, The Watcher is as powerful as someone wielding all the Infinity Stones? But only just as powerful. Not more, not less, but basically equally matched. That seems awfully unlikely.

In Endgame, Captain Marvel was about equally matched with Thanos when he didn't have any Infinity Stones. He grabs the Power Stone and knocks her out of the fight in one blow. It doesn't seem possible she could have given Ultron this much trouble when he had all six stones.

Here's my best attempt at a No-Prize:

In the comics, wearing the Infinity Gauntlet makes you God, The Supreme Being of that universe, all-powerful and all-knowing.
But in the MCU the Stones are more like a weapon you have to consciously use. Instead of them automatically giving you power, you have to be powerful to use them. The Avengers can fight Five-Infinity-Stone Thanos because using the gems is difficult. Thanos fights better in Endgame without any Stones. And if you catch him off-guard you can chop him with an Asgardian battle-axe or slice him apart with a sudden Mind Stone blast.

Ultron had a lot of experience with the Mind Stone by the time he's wiped out most of humanity, and his personality was based more directly on the Mind Stone, so it makes sense he could use it against Thanos more effectively than Vision. But even with all the Stones, he can be staggered by Captain Marvel or Uatu until he works out which button to push to blow up a planet or eat a galaxy.
posted by straight at 2:53 AM on October 1 [3 favorites]


idk about continuity or plot holes or whatever, but my spouse and i watched this last night right as the edibles were peaking and we were losing our minds at the big big fight scene. awesome episode.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:10 AM on October 1 [5 favorites]


What does a galaxy taste like?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:23 PM on October 2 [3 favorites]


> You may want to do an appropriate GIS for that.
My google-fu failed. What is a GIS?
posted by Fiberoptic Zebroid and The Hypnagogic Jerks at 7:14 PM on October 2


> What does a galaxy taste like?

Wait, you've never had a Milky Way?
posted by Pronoiac at 10:43 PM on October 2 [4 favorites]


My google-fu failed. What is a GIS?

Ironically, I believe it stands for Google image search.
posted by merriment at 5:03 AM on October 3 [1 favorite]


What does a galaxy taste like?

Tastes like chicken.
posted by Paul Slade at 6:54 AM on October 3




maybe Fake Hugo Weaving is the only impression in his repertoire.

I certainly didn't get any James Spader from this Ultron, but Hugo Weaving's Red Skull is almost pure Fake Werner Herzog, and Agent Smith is like 90% Fake Carl Sagan, so even if your repertoire is just off-brand Weavings you can probably cover a fair bit of evil ground
posted by Jon Mitchell at 2:12 PM on October 3 [1 favorite]


> Who was making all of Clint's arrows?

I was watching it with two fellow archers and the archery scene at the beginning had one of us yell "What?!" and another yell "No!" and the third just giggled for several minutes.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:49 PM on October 3


Didn’t care for ultron the first time, not sure why we got more.
posted by skewed at 6:54 PM on October 6 [1 favorite]


having my curiosity piqued about his cybernetic arm

I assumed that was a hint that Wakanda was still standing and that’s why Natasha and Clit. We’re a) still alive and b) had fancy tech
posted by bq at 11:27 AM on October 7


What does a galaxy taste like?

Well, our own apparently tastes like a raspberry daquiri.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:39 AM on October 8


Natasha and Clit

This is an improvement.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:12 PM on October 26 [1 favorite]


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