What If…? Episode 8 | The Age of Ultron is Here! (Review)

In the latest episode of What If…? The Watcher ponders the question; What If Ultron Won? The premise sets up a dark and intriguing reality expanding on a villain we haven’t see in half a decade. It delivers. 


This new reality is born when Ultron achieves his goal of uploading his consciousness into the new vibranium body; the body we know as The Vision. If you recall in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ultron created The Visions body as a host for his consciousness, a perfect evolution of humanity.  

Having achieved that goal, his final plans play out very differently. Rather than turning Sokovia into a meteor, he accessed the nuclear codes he was after and fired them; but not before killing Tony for What If…’s fourth time. However Black Widow and Hawkeye happened to be airborne and out of the way of Ultron’s forces at the time and survived the nuclear onslaught. 

This episode echoes the Age of Ultron comic more than the film does honestly, a desolate world where all but a few heroes have perished and the last hope for humanity lies in a secret bunker. I enjoyed seeing an actual MCU version of the comic story, the opportunity to do anything in What If yet again shows the incredible potential the show has. 

Anyway, we find a one-armed Clint and Natasha surviving in a post-apocalyptic Russia looking for records of something that might help in old KGB storage. Clint now having one arm with the aid of a robotic prosthesis felt like it must be a comic book reference, but not to Hawkeye, to another famous comic book archer, Green Arrow. Maybe it’s not intentional but Green Arrow’s appearance in The Dark Knight Returns is a pretty iconic appearance, it’s hard to believe the detail is a coincidence. 

While the two remaining Avengers are looking for hope against Ultron, the artificial intelligence has its own plans. When Thanos arrives on earth, with five of the six infinity stones, he is met by Ultron who uses the mind stone to immediately bisect the Mad Titan. Questions might arise about how Thanos got the soul stone without the sacrifice of Gamora, who we see alive later, but I don’t think it matters. It’s not a film where we can flesh out every detail, he got the stone and that’s all the information we need. 

After killing Thanos and taking the remaining Infinity Stone’s, Ultron decides to expand. Thanos’s arrival and the stones have enlightened him to a galaxy full of other life and civilizations he needs to bring “peace” to. What follows is a slaughter through every cosmic corner of the MCU from Sakaar to Asgard, as Ultron seeks to bring ultimate peace to his universe. We get an appearance from Captain Marvel who ever so briefly seems to have a chance, but ultimately her defeat serves to show just how much of a threat he is.

When his mission is finally complete, The Watcher narrates an Ultron whose purpose is fulfilled. But Ultron has reached another level of consciousness and can now perceive The Watcher himself…It was a chilling but exciting moment, the Watcher’s very obvious fear of this being who can perceive his existence only gave more strength to Ultron’s very evident power. 

Realizing that Ultron is now not only a threat to this universe, but potentially the entire multiverse, The Watcher returns to Black Widow and Hawkeye desperately hoping for them to find the file on Arnim Zola that will help their struggle against Ultron. We get one of the few jokes in the episode. A tired Hawkeye almost gives up his search while The Watcher gets more and more annoyed at him, the file within his reach and the secret to saving the multiverse being right there. 

A big thing for me in this episode was the lack of jokes, there were a few in there but this was overall a very dramatic episode that was light on comedic tone. To the extent where even Clint tells Natasha not to joke about, he’s lost too much to want to lighten the mood.  

I think a major issue I had with the zombie episode a few weeks ago was the more comedic tone, I quickly adjusted to it, it just didn’t meet my expectations. I was getting excited for a dark miserable look at a desolate and terrifying reality and it was one of the most comedic episodes in the season, I enjoyed the episode but it wasn’t what I was hoping for. 

But this episode hit that spot perfectly, it was a desperate and tense mission of two heroes who had little to no hope of stopping an omnipotent threat. When they do finally find Arnim Zola’s file, they discover that he has a copy of his computerized self in the Siberian base from Captain America: Civil War’s third act, the plan is to upload the AI to Ultron, to take him down from inside. 

When they meet Arnim, he agrees, however they need to fight a lot of Ultron drones to do this successfully. After uploading Zola to an Ultron drone, they desperately try to escape the horde of robots hunting them down. Until it seems like hope is lost and Hawkeye sacrifices himself to save Black Widow. The scene echoes Avengers: Endgame a lot and gives us one of the most truly stunning shots of the whole series. 

Black Widow escapes with Zola but it doesn’t matter, Zola can’t find Ultron to take him down, he is no longer in “the observable universe”. 

In fact, Ultron is battling The Watcher across the multiverse. The fight is really exciting, with The Watcher desperately trying to protect the multiverse from the cybernetic psychopath while they smash through the prisms of reality. We see New York city in several iterations as each punch from Ultron swaps universes; from Wakandan to Skrull, to medieval? This fight sequence set a precedent for multiverse battles that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is going to have to live up to. 

As the fight progresses, The Watcher realizes the fight is hopeless, he retreats and leaves Ultron who now has limitless access to countless realities. The final moments show a defeated Watcher come to a familiar face for help: Doctor Strange from Episode 4. 

I predicted in my mid-season trailer breakdown that The Watcher would employ the help of Strange—someone who can also traverse the multiverse—to assemble the heroes The Watcher has been observing, the heroes we have met throughout the show so far. I am now confident that is exactly what will take place with next week’s finale. 

For me, this was one of the best episodes of the show, a thrilling and dark universe I loved watching. I remember the hype a 15-year-old me felt when Avengers: Age of Ultron came out so vividly, and to revisit the character now in a whole new story with the point he MCU is now at was so exciting. 

Next week will be the final episode of What If…?’s first season and I can’t wait, it promises to be an exciting and crazy culmination of the past eight weeks and might even tease what we can expect from the next season. 

A dark but thrilling revisit to an iconic villain
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what-if-episode-8-the-age-of-ultron-is-here-reviewWhat If Ultron Won? sets up a dark and intriguing reality that expands on a villain we haven’t see in half a decade, and it delivers.