Warning: This article contains SPOILERS for Episode 8 of What If...?
Marvel Studios has been taking full advantage of Disney+, which is a newer weapon in the MCU’s arsenal. The current show airing weekly is What If…?, a half-hour animated adventure that explores some of those alternate timelines that Loki introduced to the world.
There have been some crazy situations in the new show so far. Peggy became Captain Carter, T’Challa grew up to be Star-Lord, and even Hank Pym as a murder machine––both intentionally and not. It’s insane all of the things writers can access when being given free rein.
Things got to a whole new level when, in the most recent episode, Ultron became a threat to the entire multiverse. Using Vision’s body for its original purpose, not only did Ultron wipe out his Earth, but also every other planet and galaxy in existence.
But in doing so, Ultron ultimately had to come face-to-face with The Mad Titan, and it's a bit odd just how easily Ultron handled the situation––certainly easier than how The Avengers handled him.
Ultron Kills Thanos, The Mad Titan
The most recent episode of What If...? features a timeline where Ultron won, not only wiping out the Avengers, but also the entire world. To go a step further, Stark's murder-bot needed the six Infinity Stones—which he acquired in quite the controversial manner.
The scene in question starts with Thanos stepping out of his now-infamous portal, just as he did several times throughout Avengers: Infinity War.
Ultron is waiting for him on the landing of what looks like a destroyed Avengers Tower overlooking New York City.
Ultron, in Vision’s body, looks at this Thanos––who never says a word––and sees the five Infinity Stones in the Infinity Gauntlet.
Thanos stands there and takes it, unmoving, as Ultron fires the Mind Stone's beam at him.
The beam cuts through, but the Mad Titan’s body doesn’t split immediately.
After a moment, Thanos becomes two and falls to the floor.
With the Infinity Stones no longer having an owner, they are free for the taking, which Ultron does without hesitation.
It's worth noting that Thanos arrives next Ultron in the exact same way he did when he landed in Wakanda during the climax of Avengers: Infinity War. Meaning that, according to how it went down on screen, Vision seemingly would've been able to use his Mind Stone to slice Thanos as he stepped foot on Wakandan soil.
The Unsatisfying End of Ultron Vs. Thanos
The scene depicting a legendary matchup between Thanos and Ultron - both possessing Infinity Stones, no less - was a disappointment to many fans. Thanos just silently strolls out of a portal, looks at Ultron, and with five Infinity Stones in his Infinity Gauntlet, allows himself to get sliced in two by the Mind Stone. Just writing that sentence felt off.
In essence, the scene felt sloppy of the writers to assume that audiences wouldn’t take note of the insane power level misinterpretation.
Each episode starts off with an explanation of the exact moment things diverge from the MCU timeline viewers know. In this case, the moment that created a new reality to explore was the failure to stop Ultron from transferring his consciousness into Vision's body.
The idea behind the What If…? concept is that these insane scenarios all spiral out of one choice, and not from a universe with entirely different sets of rules. With that said, it seems questionable that Ultron would have been able to best Thanos and his five stones; at the very least, not nearly that easy.
To give some credit to the writers, this was likely done in order to save time and not show off the massive battle. Admittedly, though, that would have been an insanely awesome thing to watch unfold, and many fans would have loved to see this happen.
The even bigger point, however, is that exact hypothetical time-crunch simply proves these episodes need more time to breathe and allow the concepts to take hold. Nearly all of the show’s first eight episodes have had more than a few people complain about everything feeling rushed. Sixty minutes per installment would do wonders for What If...?
Episode 8 of What If...? is now streaming on Disney+.