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‘What If…?’ finale reminds us who the big new MCU villain really is

Published Oct 8th, 2021 10:07PM EDT
What If Villain
Image: Marvel Studios

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What If…?

has finally reached its highly-anticipated conclusion, and the entire season is now available to stream on Disney Plus. The show delivered an epic finale, with the final episodes revealing the overarching storyline. We got a new Avengers team and a big battle against the show’s main villain. All of this will have massive implications on the MCU going forward, as everything in What If…? is canon in the MCU. But now that the What If…? finale is out, you’ll quickly realize who the big new Marvel villain is. And that the villain wasn’t even in the show. Mind you, a few huge multiverse spoilers follow below. You should watch both Loki and What If…? in full before reading on.

What If…? is a big MCU surprise

When Marvel announced the What If…? animated series back in late July 2019, the anthology didn’t seem that interesting. We’d get standalone what-if scenarios that can’t impact the rest of the MCU. They’d be fictional stories featuring familiar Avengers. But, ultimately, they won’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things.

After Loki concluded, it was evident that What If…? had massive potential. These standalone stories could happen in parallel realities where Nexus events forked the timeline. They could be possible because a Kang (Jonathan Majors) variant lost control of the Sacred Timeline in Loki.

Then Marvel confirmed that the What If…? stories will be canon for the MCU and that they’ll be multiverse stories that could always link up to the main events in the MCU. We also learned there would be a connecting story between the seemingly standalone episodes.

These sorts of revelations will make What If…? a lot more exciting to watch. Even so, it’s not until episode 7 that you realize how big this multiverse story really is.

The shocking What If…? villains

Nothing goes right in the What If…? stories. One choice alters numerous timelines, modifying the turn of events significantly. We get to see over and over how one decision can send an entire timeline into chaos. And we keep seeing darker realities that have worse fates than anything that happened in the MCU’s primary reality.

We also discover three powerful beings along the way, two of which are incredibly powerful villains. The Watcher (Jeffrey Wright) seems to be a good entity. He vowed never to interfere with the events he witnessed, no matter how bad they might be. He knows what’s happening, but he just tells the story — that’s another mystery; who is he talking to? But, as we discover in the final episodes, the Watcher is a mighty being. He isn’t just ready to fight others; he’s capable of moving freely between realities and yanking people out of them, superheroes included. He could become a massive foe as well if it’d serve Marvel’s interests.

Strange Supreme (Benedict Cumberbatch) is in the gray zone. He’s not a perfect villain, but rather an anti-hero. By the end of the What If…? finale, he’s keenly aware of his mistakes. And he’s fighting on the right side of things. But this doesn’t change the fact that the Watcher freed an incredibly powerful Strange variant, one that’s harnessing the kind of power that could devastate an entire universe.

What If...? Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) in Marvel’s What If…?. Image source: Marvel Studios

Infinity Ultron the most dangerous MCU villain so far?

Finally, Infinity Ultron (Ross Marquand) is the main villain in What If…?. And he might just be the most powerful superbeing in the entire TV show and the MCU.

Infinity Ultron beats Thanos with one move and harnesses the power of all Infinity Stones. He then destroys his entire universe, and then he single-handily realizes there’s a multiverse. He figures how to travel between realities and detect the Watcher. Supreme Strange, by the way, also became aware of the Watcher on his own.

It takes an entire team of Avengers, the Guardians of the Multiverse, to beat Infinity Ultron. And even that victory practically hinges on a trick from the Watcher and Strange Supreme. The Ultron threat isn’t entirely gone.

What If...? Episode 7 Ultron
Infinity Ultron appears in the shocking What If…? episode 7 cliffhanger. Image source: Marvel Studios

MCU Phase 4 already has a more powerful villain

Given everything that happened in What If…? and the MCU so far, Infinity Ultron seems to be the worst thing that could have happened to the Avengers. Even worse than Thanos and his snaps.

But if you did see everything in the MCU so far, then you already know there’s an even bigger villain lurking around. The What If…? finale only makes us realize how incredibly powerful this villain is.

We explained after Loki that Kang could be even more dangerous than Thanos. Kang is not the He Who Remains variant that we see in the TV show. Rather, it’s a version that would start a multiversal war.

The What If…? finale also reminds us how powerful Kang is. He’s wielding an instrument not available to others. He can wield time, see everything that happens, and then control the narrative. The good version of Kang becomes He Who Remains. And this variant hates and fears the worst variant of Kang.

Loki Episode 6
Kang (Jonathan Majors) in Loki finale. Image source: Marvel Studios

When will we get the real Kang?

He Who Remains designed the Sacred Timeline in such a way to eliminate the threat of Kang variance. The fewer the Kangs, the less likely the chance of war is. But he didn’t just stop Kang in the process. He Who Remains also ensured the Avengers would never allow someone line Ultron to win. That’s the point What If…? drives home.

The Ultron we see in the main MCU might not have gotten as much screen time as he deserved. And Marvel dispatched of him too quickly. But now we have a reason for that to happen. He Who Remains needed the Avengers to win that battle and eliminate Ultron for good. The alternative would be risking a reality where Ultron would win and wipe out everything in existence, including the entire multiverse.

Put differently, Strange Supreme and Infinity Ultron can both destroy entire realities. Ultron can kill destroy the multiverse by eliminating alternate realities one by one. But Kang can prevent all of that from happening by micromanaging the curation of Sacred Timelines.

That said, we have no idea when the worst version of Kang will appear. We do know that Majors will appear in Loki season 2. Also, he has a role in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania next. The third Ant-Man film drops on February 17th, 2023.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.