The debut season of ‘What If…?’ — which is the first animated series in the ‘MCU‘ — has been one thrilling rollercoaster of a ride. Each episode of the show reimagines certain important events from the main continuity and gives us a look at the vast realities that form the multiverse. However, the season finale revisits the episodes before it and treats the viewers to an unforeseen level of spectacle.
In the season finale, The Watcher gathers heroes from various alternate realities in a desperate bid to stop a super-sentient Ultron from destroying the multiverse. Does The Watcher’s plan succeed? What happens to the multiverse? We are sure such questions must be surging through your head, and we are here to guide you through the ending of ‘What If…?’ season 1. SPOILERS AHEAD!
What If…? Season 1 Finale Recap
In the season 1 finale, titled ‘What If… the Watcher Broke His Oath?,’ The Watcher gathers superheroes such as Captain Carter, Star-Lord T’Challa, Killmonger, Party Thor, and Gamora from alternate realities. The heroes meet Strange Supreme, and The Watcher explains to them that they have been chosen to protect the multiverse from Ultron, who is in possession of all six infinity stones. The Watcher christens them as the Guardians of the Multiverse.
The heroes formulate a plan to destroy the infinity stones with the help of Gamora’s Infinity Crusher and stop Ultron. They arrive in an uninhabited universe to prepare, but Thor unwittingly attracts Ultron, and an explosive battle ensues. T’Challa steals the Soul Stone from Ultron. Strange summons a horde of zombies and Zombie Wanda to hold off Ultron while the heroes escape to Ultron’s home dimension. There they meet that universe’s sole survivor, Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow.
The Guardians power up the Infinity Crusher, but it fails to destroy the stones as they have slightly different properties in different realities. Strange engages with Ultron in a duel while Natasha fires the arrow containing Arnim Zola’s AI at Ultron. Zola shuts down Ultron, but Killmonger tries to steal the Infinity Stones. Zola fights Killmonger for the stones’ possession. Strange comes up with a last-minute solution and saves the day.
What If…? Season 1 Ending: What Happens to Ultron? Is the Multiverse Saved?
After the Guardians fail to destroy the stones, it becomes apparent that they will have to think of another plan to stop Ultron. Natasha uses Arnim Zola’s AI to infect Ultron’s AI. The plan works, but Zola takes over Ultron’s body. It is unclear whether Ultron has been completely shut off as the super-sentient computer program is capable of finding a way to survive. However, we do not get any clues in the episode that point to Ultron’s survival, and hence, it is safe to say the genocidal villain is out of the picture.
However, that does not mean the multiverse is safe, as Zola and Killmonger both fight for control over the Infinity Stones. Strange is able to subdue them by pulling a trick out of The Watcher’s playbook and containing them in a separate pocket universe, similar to the one Strange found himself in after he ended up destroying his universe. In the end, the Guardians of the Multiverse prevail, and the multiverse is saved.
What Happens to the Guardians of the Multiverse? Where Is Black Widow?
After saving the multiverse, The Watcher congratulates the Guardians of the Multiverse and sends the heroes back to their respective realities. Party Thor reunites with Jane in his world, while Gamora also ends up in her reality. T’Challa returns to his dimension and trains Peter Quill to become Star-Lord. Captain Carter is hesitant to return to her universe, but The Watcher reminds her that her reality still needs the shield-wielding hero, and she returns as well. Strange Supreme promises to keep a watchful eye on the pocket reality containing Zola and Killmonger.
However, when it is Natasha’s turn to return, she refuses to go back as there is no life left in her world. She pleads with The Watcher to restore her world, but he insists that he cannot do so. The Watcher then teleports Natasha in the midst of a battle in a world that has lost its Black Widow. While this might appear as a random universe to viewers, eagle-eyed fans will notice that this is the reality we see in the third episode. The absence of the Avengers and the presence of Captain America and Captain Marvel confirms the same. Natasha leaps into action and defeats Loki, hinting that she is already at home in this universe.
What Is The Watcher’s New Oath?
When we first meet The Watcher, he is an all-observing being who has vowed to never interfere in the events of any single universe. However, by the end of the first season, The Watcher is forced to break his oath and intervene to stop Ultron. In the process, he obtains a new sense of clarity in the season finale’s final moments. Thus, The Watcher takes on a new oath to protect every universe in the multiverse.
In a way, The Watcher is a metaphor for the avid viewers who closely follow all the events in the ‘MCU.’ The Watcher explains in the closing voice-over that the multiverse is his home. Similarly, the multiverse provides a sense of belonging to the franchise’s fans. Like The Watcher, the fans can also not interfere in the events, yet they can protect the multiverse (the franchise) with their love and appreciation.
What If…? Season 1 Finale Mid-Credits Scene: Who Is Inside the Hydra Stomper?
In a mid-credits scene, Captain Carter returns to her universe and continues the mission she left halfway. After her battle with Batroc, Black Widow informs Captain Carter that the pirates were after a piece of technology that turns out to be the Hydra Stomper. She also says that there is someone inside it. However, we cut to credits before finding out just who that person is
The most obvious answer is Steve Rogers, who pilots the armor in the first episode. The Watcher insists that Captain Carter return to her universe. Therefore, it is possible he is aware that she is going to reunite with Steve shortly. Consequently, he turns down Captain Carter’s request to send her to a different timeline to be with Steve. Therefore, we believe it is, in fact, Steve inside the Hydra Stomper.
However, given that nearly 70 years have passed since Carter last saw Steve, it is surprising that he survived for so long but not entirely impossible. After all, Bucky Barnes also survived for many years through Hydra’s Winter Soldier program. It is possible that in this universe, the same fate befell Steve Rogers, and the person inside the Hydra Stomper is a brainwashed Steve. It could certainly be a setup for an exciting episode in ‘What If…?’ season 2.
Read More: What If Episode 8 Recap and Ending, Explained
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What If Ending, Explained: Where Is Black Widow?