Warning - This article contains spoilers for the Season 1 finale of What If...?
After starting off with 27 live-action projects in theaters and on Disney+, Marvel Studios took a chance on the animation realm with its first season of the streaming series What If...? Taking a semi-retrospective look at the movies from the MCU's Infinity Saga, fans got a look at dozens of classic heroes and villains that went through various levels of changes in this new universe.
The series started off with seven unique stories featuring characters like Hayley Atwell's Captain Carter and the late Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa Star-Lord, all of which took place in their own separate corner of the Multiverse. This all led to Episode 8, which featured the most powerful version of Ultron ever seen in the MCU as the robot wielded the six Infinity Stones.
This terrifying villain became such a force that he was able to find Jeffrey Wright's Watcher for an epic physical confrontation, forcing the series' main character to assemble an elite team to save all of existence.
Although many fans feel Ultron didn't get his true shine in his initial live-action story, What If...?'s head writer recently explained why he was the right choice to serve as this show's big bad.
The Age of Ultron Comes to Life
Bradley described Ultron as "absolutely terrifying in the comics," although she felt that one of the faults of Avengers: Age of Ultron was that the villain didn't get enough time to shine. Now, with the opportunity to combine the genocidal android with the Multiverse and the Infinity Stones, she expressed her excitement for the "complete devastation" he could bring to What If's overarching plot:
"Well, I think any comic book lover knows Ultron in the comics is absolutely terrifying. Age of Ultron is great but was only one movie and at times, to me, it didn't seem to give that classic villain enough screen time that I would have given him. [laughs] We can only fit so much in those movies. This was our opportunity to show what Ultron is capable of. And also, now as we're hitting Phase 4, we have the Infinity Stones in play, we have the Multiverse, so what would happen if Ultron got the Infinity Gauntlet? How bad would it get? And it's quite easy to jump to complete devastation!"
She reaffirmed this intention to Entertainment Weekly by explaining how she and the team "wanted to give him his due" and really showcase "the actual pure terror" he could unleash on the MCU's heroes. Bradley specifically touched on Natasha Romanoff and Clint Barton's relationship to help show that level of tragedy as Ultron rose to absolute power:
"Ultron is a huge character in the comics and while Age of Ultron was a lot of fun, he just got one movie where Thanos gets a whole series. So we wanted to give him his due and show the actual pure terror of this horrific A.I. that was created from a place of altruism and arrogance and see what he would actually do if unleashed. And because we now have the Infinity Stones and the multiverse to play with, it gets more and more horrific. And we got to show the human side of that tragedy and focus using both Clint and Natasha and their relationship. I love those two characters so getting to see them up close and personal, and how they interact with each other was a blast to write and work with."
Showcasing Ultron's Full Potential in Animation
While enjoyable, James Spader's Ultron from 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron arrived to mixed reviews. Although the villain himself had some memorable moments and the often funny Tony Stark-esque quips, many fans felt the movie didn't live up to the stakes implied in its title, especially with Ultron finding himself defeated for good in the end.
Known as one of Marvel's most powerful bad guys in the comics, Bradley and the team behind What If...? clearly wanted to showcase Ultron's full capabilities. Especially with the memories of the widely varied opinions on the Avengers sequel, Marvel Studios had the perfect opportunity to show the villain's true might with the MCU's first animated outing.
Infinity Ultron certainly lived up to his billing as he gained possession of the Infinity Stones, proving his power with only the Mind Stone in Vision's body by literally cutting the Mad Titan Thanos in half and taking the other five Stones. He gave the Guardians of the Multiverse everything they could handle and, behind the voice talents of Ross Marquand, he sparked fear into the heroes and viewers alike.
All nine episodes of What If...? are available to stream on Disney+.