What If...? has been exploring alternate stories set within the confines of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, showcasing different characters in unique scenarios like Peggy Carter becoming Captain Carter, T'Challa acquiring the title of Star-Lord, and Doctor Strange shifting to the dark side.
These stories are set during the MCU's Infinity Saga, meaning that the storylines are based on the first three phases of the franchise. Still, the creatives behind What If...? already confirmed that the show's second season will feature stories from the post-Avengers: Endgame timeline.
One of the upcoming episodes already confirmed will be Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow. Directed by Cate Shortland, the MCU prequel explored Natasha Romanoff's past which includes the Red Room, her former Russian family, and the birth of Taskmaster.
It remains to be seen how What If...? will handle Black Widow in its animated format, but a blink-and-you'll-miss-it reference to the 2021 MCU film has been spotted in one of the show's latest promos.
A Sneaky Black Widow Easter Egg in What If...?
The latest What If...? teaser for the Ultron-centric episode revealed a major Easter egg that ties directly to Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow.
At the 0:19 mark of the trailer, Clint Barton and Natasha Romanoff are seen retreating to the Quinjet to hold off the horde of Ultron bots. The brief shot shows Romanoff wielding a shield to defend herself, but it is not Captain America's vibranium weapon:
Instead, Romanoff's shield is the one that was used by Alexei Shostakov a.k.a. Red Guardian:
For context, the shield was last seen during Black Widow, when a Red Guardian action figure was shown being held by David Harbour's Alexei Shostakov:
How Did Nat Obtain Red Guardian's Shield?
Many would agree that this sneaky Black Widow Easter egg is a welcome addition to What If...?, but this could provide clues to the plot of the upcoming episode.
The fact that the latest What If...? trailer only showed two Avengers (Clint Barton and Natasha Romanoff) could hint that the rest of Earth's Mightiest Heroes were already eradicated by Ultron. If this does indeed take place in this universe, it could indicate that Barton and Romanoff will need to call reinforcements to try and hold off Ultron's attack.
Given that Romanoff can be seen wielding Red Guardian's shield, it's reasonable to assume that the former Red Room assassin managed to contact her past Russian family.
This means that the mini-reunion that happened in Black Widow would have occurred much earlier in this universe, but it remains to be seen if What If...? will showcase the animated versions of David Harbour's Alexei and Florence Pugh's Yelena Belova in the episode.
In the original film, Wanda Maximoff managed to show Romanoff her traumatic past. There's a strong chance that Romanoff decided to contact her Russian family in this timeline since the Scarlet Witch's vision would've given her the idea to do so.
Despite that, the absence of Red Guardian in the promo could hint that he might be one of Ultron's victims alongside the rest of the Avengers. It is also possible that Captain America's shield is also absent, meaning that Ultron found a way to destroy the iconic weapon at some point.
The eighth episode of What If...? will premiere on September 29, 2021 on Disney+.