I’m pretty sure most of you know it by now, but it’s Wednesday and that means it’s Marvel review day! Today we’re talking about What If … Ultron Won? – spoilers ahead from here on out!
What was it about?
What if Ultron got himself a body, some infinity stones and the realization that there are several worlds he can bring his version of “peace” to? A heap of chaos, that’s what.
It’s odd – this was the first episode that actively connected to previous ones we’ve watched, but simultaneously it didn’t make sense if you considered last week. What am I referring to? Well, we clearly saw the Watcher distressed at Ultron’s appearance during the end scenes of What If … Thor Were an Only Child?, but now the course of Ultron’s story seemed to surprise him all over again. Simultaneously, we know that the episodes are connected now due to the final moments. It doesn’t fully make sense. I’m getting ahead of myself though, let’s break it down!
From the beginning, the Watcher seemed more invested in this universe. He said that it breaks his heart and it’s the one where Ultron managed to get hold of the body that would become Vision in the “regular world” and made it his own instead.
After deploying all the world’s nuclear weapons and extinguishing most of humanity in the process, Nat and Clint (who has a metal arm) seem to be the only ones left, the only hope alive.
All of a sudden, Thanos shows up, but Ultron doesn’t hesitate – he cuts him in half and takes the infinity stones for himself. This Thanos must have come for the mind stone, as that was seemingly the only one he was missing, giving Ultron a full set and therefore his own infinity armor (instead of the gauntlet).
With all that power, Ultron continues to bring his version of “peace” aka complete and utter destruction to all planets and life in the galaxy. Even an encounter with Captain Marvel didn’t stop him and he ultimately extinguished everything and everyone (except for Nat and Clint, but he doesn’t know that).
As he becomes a program without a purpose, he suddenly reaches a previously unattainable level of consciousness and becomes aware of the Watcher, who is terrified by his hunger. The realization that there are multiple universes gives him a new mission.
Through all of this, the Watcher could still not intervene, but only hope that Nat and Clint would find the answer in the Russian KGB archive they needed. Apparently Zola, the AI made from uploading a Hydra scientist’s brain, is the only one that could counteract Ultron’s code from within. In an attempt to upload Zola to the hive mind, Clint sacrifices his life – it perfectly mirrored Nat’s sacrifical scene from Endgame and I liked that in an odd way.
Meanwhile the Watcher and Vision are carrying out an epic battle throughout the multiverse. They crash from one reality into the next and you could barely keep up with what was happening (Steve Rogers seemed to be president of the US in one though …). Ultron is not invincible, but the Watcher eventually has to retreat and seek help.
Ultimately, the Watcher finds himself out of options and seeks lonely Doctor Strange from a couple episodes ago. He had been all by himself, in his single bubble, since the destruction of his universe and is only willing to help. We shall see if this team up will be effective.
So, we get another open end, but, at the same time, we are entering a phase of the show where everything starts to connect. As much as I still think What If …? has plenty of storytelling weaknesses in general and banks way too much on the viewers previous knowledge and emotional attachment to the characters, I’m intrigued by this development. I enjoy that it seems like there is an overall purpose and possibly something that will be really relevant to the MCU as a whole.
I bet a lot of people who mocked Age of Ultron (which was honestly always one of my favorites) are surprised just how much the characters from that movie came back in the shows this year.
I hope by episode 8, you kind of know how things work on here, but just in case this is your first time stopping by (hi, by the way!), the following post is intended to be read after watching the show, because it includes SPOILERS! (If you haven’t seen it yet and you can, watch it with tissues!)
What was it about?
Agatha takes Wanda on a trip down memory lane to discover how the Westview anomaly was created.
When WandaVision calls an episode “Previously On”, they do not mess around. For the longest time, we have been waiting to find out what happened, how Wanda got into Westview and how the hex started. Well, this episode delivered in every possible way.
Before we get into Wanda’s history though, we learned a bit more about Agatha. The episode starts all the way back in Salem in the year 1693. You might presume that it’s part of the witch trials, with last week’s reveal about Agnes/Agatha’s real identity, but on the contrary. Agatha isn’t on trial because she is a witch, she is trialed by her coven sisters because she is using dark magic. In an intriguing show of power, she absorbs her coven members energy, remaining the sole survivor instead of the victim, showing that despite her claims of wanting to be good, she has great potential for evil. As a final act before stepping away from the corpses, she grabs the (to us) now all too well known brooch from her mother’s coat.
Fast forward a couple centuries to modern day Westview and Agatha is still as power hungry as ever. She is amazed and intrigued by Wanda’s sheer power, but also confused by her lack of knowledge and training. Agatha is sure that Wanda is a witch too, an unwilling one who doesn’t want to share her secrets, but a witch nonetheless. So, in order to learn how she created the Westview hex in a matter of moments, when it took Agatha ages to learn even simple transformation spells, they start exploring Wanda’s memory (again, unwillingly, since Agatha is holding the twins hostage).
What follows is a walk through the years, bits and pieces of Wanda’s life that shaped her. A lot of Marvel fans know about these moments, as they have been discussed in previous movies, but they have never been shown with such detail. While I understand that maybe not everyone was interested in seeing this breakdown of her life, I think it was necessary to portray that the true villain in Wanda’s life is grief and her inability to deal with it and/or catch a break from it. Let’s take a look at what we learned:
We start with Wanda’s childhood in Sokovia. They didn’t have much, but they were a happy little family, finding an escape in Western media while being on the brink of war themselves. This is what confirmed where Wanda’s love for sitcoms comes from – nothing bad ever happens in them, or at least it’s all good by the end of the episode. The trauma from hiding under a bed for two days because they thought the Stark Industries missile would go off, while the TV was still running in the background was powerful imagery. The loss of her parents in the process the start of all of Wanda’s grief.
Agatha already suspects that Wanda had powers at that age, but if so, they were dormant and didn’t have anything to do with the missile not going off.
Next comes the Hydra complex that gave Wanda her powers. Her and Pietro were the only ones who could survive the tests, even if no one in the facility understood why. When faced with the infinity stone, she saw her future self (at least it looked like a typical Wanda costume) and it awakened and amplified her internal powers. Since Pietro is not a witch though and also gained powers, it could mean that the infinity stone triggers latent mutant genes? Just like Wanda’s magic (fueled by the infinity stone) triggered Monica’s powers? If we are going by the comics, this is a wrong assumption, as Wanda and Pietro are not technically mutants, but the MCU has treated their backstory differently, so who really knows?
After losing her brother, Vision was her comfort at the Avengers complex. I found Wanda’s accent to be very slight in that particular memory, considering that the Sokovian incident had just happened and she was still new to the team, but memories can trick you like that, I suppose. I always adored their little moments in the Avengers movies and this was another example of why their interactions are so precious. Vision could pull her back from the brink of despair, which is foreshadowing for why losing him as well was so harrowing for her.
The next memory seemed like the most key one to me. Hayward has spun this narrative of Wanda going on a bender and stealing Vision’s corpse, when none of that is the truth. He LET her into the S.W.O.R.D. headquarter, he denied her simple request of giving Vision a proper funeral and antagonized her by insinuating that she had ulterior motives. Vision is nothing but a weapon to him and I did not appreciate his tone towards Wanda. But what is most important is, Wanda left without Vision’s body. She was distraught at seeing him dismantled, but when she touched him, she couldn’t feel him. Another beautiful and heartbreaking callback to Infinity War, where both Wanda and Vision stated that the magic/powers of the other could never hurt them, because they always said “I only feel/see you”. But now, there was nothing of her Vision left to feel. If your heart didn’t break at that, I don’t even know what to say.
Afterwards, she calmly left, the footage of her going rampage in the lab clearly being faked. Instead, she went to Westview, where Vision had previously bought property for them to grow old on. I wish they had had a chance to do that. As she drives through town, we see the many faces of the “characters” of her own sitcom, the real citizens of Westview. The town is quaint, but it’s just a town, nowhere near the paradise we got to see before. And then Wanda can’t hold in her grief any longer and she does not just create her perfect little world, but she also creates Vision – a massive show of power and another answer to one of our many questions! Vision’s corpse is not pupeteered by Wanda, instead she re-made him.
It’s only after that display that Agatha finally lets her leave this maze of memories. It’s the cries for help from her twins that bring Wanda back to reality, her children the one thing she still cares about more than anything. They are held hostage as Agatha says the words I have waited for for the longest time! We finally, finally, finally get the official name reveal for Wanda, when Agatha explains that the power Wanda possesses should be impossible. It should be nothing more than a myth. But Wanda wields chaos magic and that makes her a SCARLET WITCH!!!
I hear the people who think this episode included a lot of information that was already previously covered in the movies, but when did we ever get a chance to see it with Wanda’s eyes? To feel her pain penetrating ever cell of our bodies, drowning us in the sadness she feels with her? I thought that this was an incredible show of how powerful emotions can be. How dangerous they are if not dealt with. Even Agatha said that Wanda was dangerous and that woman was holding kids hostage while saying that.
But is Agatha really a villain? In the opening scene, she said she could not control these dark powers when she pleaded with her coven. Maybe, in the years since, she found a way to control it and is now not willing to let another powerful witch go rampage on the world. While she was accompanying Wanda through her memories, she was sympathetic, albeit still very straight forward with her comments. She seemed more curious in figuring out what she was dealing with rather than wanting to do any of this herself. Sometimes it even sounded like a tinge of worry for Wanda. I’m sure it will be resolved like many other things next episode.
Now that we know real magic is involved, it seems all the more logical to have a Doctor Strange appearance in the finale, ultimately tying this show to the Multiverse of Madness. I cannot wait!
Lastly, it looks like post-credit scenes are back for good! Once again, I just really want to punch Hayward, because he is such a massive liar. All this time, he had Visions body. All this time, he made Wanda out to be the villain when he was truly the evil one. Bringing the Vision’s body back online worries me. It can’t have his mind, that’s in Westview with Wanda … I think? Who’s to say that Hayward has any kind of control over this version of the Vision’s body? Danger lies ahead. It also eerily feels like all those theories thinking that Hayward is Ultron or controlled by him make sense. His animosity after Wanda’s betrayal understandable, his lack of faith in humanity and heroes also very on brand. It would be in tune with the animated version, so I’m curious to see if that will actually be true.