The Watcher turns into the “Protector of the Multiverse” in Marvel’s What If…? season 1 ending. What If…? was the first animated TV series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It takes place in Loki. Season 1 of What If…? followed an anthology format, with each episode set in a different timeline. One in which reality had taken a little different turn – some more unique than others, some in apocalyptic form, some with seeming “happy endings.”
The latter few episodes, on the other hand, took a different strategy, unleashing an invincible Ultron across the Multiverse. Ultron was too powerful for even the Watcher to overcome. So he chose champions to fight in his place, heroes and villains who could unite and defeat the synthezoid life-form. He taught them everything they needed to know. A superb chess genius whose knowledge outstripped Ultron’s and allowed the Guardians of the Multiverse to triumph – albeit in a way they never expected.
But, because each MCU TV show exists inside a shared universe, the tale it tells isn’t simply essential in and of itself; it also acts as a prelude to what’s to come. Here’s how the Watcher outwitted Ultron, how the heroes of What If…? season 1 change by it, and how it will affect the MCU in the future.
The Guardians Of The Multiverse Explained
The Watcher sifted through endless timelines to find champions capable of defeating Ultron. They were the Multiverse’s Guardians, defending all of reality from Ultron’s soldiers. Their members were:
- Doctor Strange Supreme, a distorted version of Stephen Strange who had destroyed his own reality in an attempt to save the woman he loved, was one of their members. Strange worked as the Watcher’s right-hand man. His abilities boosted by all the mystical energy he’d eaten allowing him to withstand even Ultron’s might.
- Star-Lord T’Challa, the charismatic hero managed to redeem his dimension’s Thanos. He was snatched from his timeline in the middle of his struggle with Ego on Earth.
- Captain Carter was lifted from her universe on a mission to the Lemurian Star – her equivalent of the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier – in a timeline where Peggy Carter became a super-soldier instead of Steve Rogers.
- Gamora, Sakaar’s champion, who probably came from a version in which Thanos never adopted her and instead found herself alone on Sakaar. She had Eitri create the Infinity Crusher, a device capable of destroying the Infinity Stones, in that timeline. She successfully killed Thanos.
- Killmonger, the monarch of Wakanda and Tony Stark’s betrayer, was ironically one of them because he would make the unethical decisions at the right time; and provide a perfect way to remove the Infinity Stones from the equation.
- The only person on Ultron’s Earth, Black Widow, is armed with a computer virus that will allow her to eliminate him. She was a late addition to the team. Thereby, having been brought in as a result of events rather than at the start.
They’re a diverse group, hand-picked to meet the Watcher’s needs. Because he admitted he’d studied information on heroes like Captain Carter, the language suggests the Watcher chose them in collaboration with Doctor Strange Supreme.
How The Watcher Defeated Ultron
Ultron may not have been defeated if he had remained in the Panoptichron, the Watcher’s home that exists outside of space and time. However, the Watcher, a cosmic being who can perceive all that is, was, and ever will be, was able to predict his activities the instant he entered a timeline to challenge the Guardians of the Multiverse. The Watcher purposefully placed the Guardians of the Multiverse in a dimension that was devoid of life; knowing that their surprising life signs would draw Ultron’s attention. They then fled to Ultron’s home reality, where they stole the Soul Stone, leading Ultron to chase them.
In reality, the Watcher’s first intention was to simply compel Ultron to return to that dimension. According to What If…? episode 8, the Black Widow of that reality had discovered a weapon capable of defeating Ultron: an arrow loaded with a computer virus based on Arnim Zola’s mental engrams. When Black Widow joined the fight, she quickly received the same magical protection as the rest of the Guardians of the Multiverse by Doctor Strange Supreme. She was able to shoot that arrow into Ultron’s eye. This allowed the virus to upload into Ultron’s mainframe. Zola was able to take control of Ultron’s body and kill his intelligence.
The Watcher’s final strategy was unquestionably the smartest, but stopping Ultron wasn’t enough; he also wanted to get those Infinity Stones off the table. Killmonger is also in as one of his tools because he knew Killmonger would grab the Infinity Stones’ power for himself. Arnim Zola and Killmonger were locked in a duel for the Infinity Stones. Their wills equal – and the Watcher intervened, sealing them both in a pocket universe that Doctor Strange Supreme would guard for the rest of their lives.
The Guardians Of The Multiverse Disband: What Happens To Them Next?
The Guardians of the Multiverse disbanded and returned to their home dimensions. Though it’s worth noting that the Watcher preserved their memory of these Multiversal occurrences, perhaps allowing him to summon them again. In each scenario, What If…? episode 9 took a moment to reassure viewers that they’d returned to a timeline where everything was as it should be, with the promise of more heroism and adventure to follow. Party Thor reunites with Jane Foster, who had survived the Ultron invasion; Star-Lord T’Challa joined forces with Peter Quill to fight Ego; and because they were fighting on Earth rather than on the Celestial planet, Ego’s power was only enough to defeat him in that timeline.
Only one of the key scenarios, the one in which Killmonger takes over Wakanda, was not explored; simply because his fate meant he had been effectively wiped – thereby liberating Wakanda. It’s plausible to think he was going to lose his place in this timeline; the Watcher had whisked him away at a point when his absence would create the least amount of upheaval.
Because of the real-world ramifications, the conclusion of What If…? episode 9 is bittersweet. Chadwick Boseman passed away shortly after finishing his recordings for What If…?, and this is his final appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel has decided not to recast T’Challa for the live-action MCU; while it is unclear whether they would choose a different voice-actor for season 2 of What If…?
Black Widow Receives Her Reward
The saddest of the Multiverse’s Guardians was Black Widow. The last surviving human in Ultron’s home reality. The last surviving living being because he had annihilated all life there, even if she didn’t realize it. The Watcher revealed that he had other plans for Black Widow when she refused to return to her home realm. Instead, he transported her to a reality where Earth had lost its Widow and Loki had overrun the globe, as seen in What If…? episode 3.
She stepped in at a crucial point in the fight against Loki. Then, disarming him just in time and providing the Avengers of that universe – Nick Fury, Captain America, and Captain Marvel – the chance they needed. Because it appeared that Loki was ready to prevail and defeat this new gathering of Avengers, the Watcher intervened in the most spectacular way possible, diverting a whole timeline. Surprisingly, there’s a slight continuity flaw at that moment, because Loki was wielding the Scepter holding the Mind Stone, a weapon he shouldn’t have had in that timeframe.
Captain Carter Gets Her Endgame Ending With Steve Rogers In What If’s Post-Credits
Captain Carter and the main timeline’s Captain America have beautiful, sad parallels; with Peggy hoping she could have her “Happily Ever After” by returning to her reality shortly after WWII and spending the rest of her life with Steve Rogers. The Watcher refused, assuring her she was still required. He sent her back to the Lemurian Star and the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It turned out to have happened in her timeline in a slightly different way. The Lemurian Star was hauling the Hydra Stomper, which Hydra had likely captured after the Second World War ended – and it had someone within it. The inference is that Steve Rogers became the Winter Soldier in Captain Carter’s timeline. His journey has taken an unfavorable turn. But he reunited with Captain Carter, and the greatest love story in that timeline will continue.
It’s worth noting that the Watcher appears to have taken special care to disturb Captain Carter’s timeline. Her encounters with Arnim Zola essentially serve as foreknowledge of Hydra’s continued existence, as well as Zola’s possible presence in a digital form, and this foreknowledge could have a significant impact on her near-future. Season 2 of What If…? should hopefully follow up where the post-credits scene left off.
Doctor Strange Supreme’s Ending & Future
Doctor Strange Supreme returns to his home universe, where he is now in charge of Ultron and Killmonger’s pocket dimension. He embraces this duty. Knowing that by doing so, he is safeguarding the Multiverse as a whole from two potentially catastrophic threats. What Would Happen If…? Strange and the Watcher consider each other friends at the end of episode 9. The Watcher intends to visit Strange Supreme. The narrative has rehabilitated its most sad and evil character, establishing him as a defender of the Multiverse.
That, of course, raises the question of whether Doctor Strange Supreme will return in live-action form in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. He has been speculated for some time; no official confirmation has been given, but it can’t be ruled out. The story potential there is incredible, but it all depends on how interconnected Marvel wants to make What If…? with the main MCU movies. It would be fascinating to see Strange Supreme interact with a variant of himself who, he would learn, seems rather more ambivalent about his beloved Night Nurse/Christine Palmer than he is; the story potential there is remarkable, but it all depends on how interconnected Marvel wants to make What If…? with the main MCU movies.
The Watcher Is Now Protector Of The Multiverse
Jeffrey Wright, who plays the Watcher, has suggested that his character would change throughout the first season of What If…? “He’s an observer in the comics—and then some,” Wright explained. “He begins as an observer here in the first season, but he gradually becomes more compelled by what he sees.” He intimated that What If…Watcher ?’s will intervene, which he did, transforming the Watcher into a being willing to intervene when he deems it is necessary. Furthermore, What If…? episode 9 confirms that this isn’t just a blip in the Watcher’s behavior, but a new state quo.
The Watcher is no longer merely a multiverse spectator; he now sees himself as the Multiverse’s Protector. The Multiverse is crucial to Phase 4 and beyond of the MCU, with Loki positioning Kang the Conqueror as the greatest threat. Variants of Kang the Conqueror, as seen in Loki, are doomed to wage war across universes. The only way to win is to establish a single timeline and kill all others. What Would Happen If…? The Watcher is introduced in season 1 as Kang’s true foe. He is a cosmic creature who exists beyond time and space and so has the potential to rival him.
What Will Happen In What If…? Season 2
Season 2 scripts have already been written, and showrunner A.C. Bradley has hinted that it’s a difficult balancing act; while she wants to revisit certain characters, the MCU’s ever-growing nature means there are so many more potential stories to tell, and What If…? season 2 will have Phase 4 influences.
“Hopefully, we’ll see hints of Eternals and Shang-Chi and the Black Widow characters,” she observed in one interview. “The fun of What If…? is that we get to explore the entire infinite multiverse, so we try and bounce around as much as we can. I want to play with all these characters, and as much as I love Captain Carter, we’ve got to share the love. I’m very excited to show new worlds, new heroes.”
While the Guardians of the Multiverse will surely return, their lineup may alter slightly; with the Watcher picking whichever squad he thinks is best for the Multiversal threats of What If…? season 2.