The episode titled What if…Ultron Won reverts to the more grounded and gritty storylines after the abysmal episode from the week before
The story is set in the alternative timeline during the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron where Ultron emerges victorious and merges with Vision to become a sentient being whose mission is to wipe out all living beings from the universe and beyond by acquiring all of the infinity stones.
This is the first episode of the anthology series that hints that all of the individual stories from the various universes in the multiverse could share an interconnected narrative within the What if…? series. It is also the only episode that has incorporated a plotline from its preceding episode. The ending of What if… Thor Were an Only Child, though the most underwhelming of the series, has set up this storyline from the multiverse and possibly the finale.
Before analysing this episode, it is important to note that the events of this particular story have opened up plenty of plot holes from the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) storylines with regards to how the theory of multiples timelines are established in the universe, and it also inadvertently retcons the multiverse narrative from the Loki TV series. This poses a new challenge for the MCU, which prided itself on how it managed to produce 25 commercially successful films, to correct some of the continuity errors that have cropped up since the Disney Plus original Marvel shows entered the picture.
As a self-contained story, What if…Ultron Won has all the right ingredients for an entertaining television episode with great character development and a well-written narrative and a post-apocalyptic world. The story is built around four characters Hawkeye, Black Widow, Vision, and surprisingly the narrator himself. In fact, the Watcher plays a far more significant role in this episode, and on several occasions, he is tempted to intervene to stop the tragedy that is unraveling in this particular universe.
There are several movie comic book references scattered across the episode as homage. Ultron himself is more comic book accurate than Joss Whedon’s film from 2015. It is not a criticism of James Spader’s portrayal of the character in the film by any stretch of the imagination, but rather a criticism of how the character was written for the film. The 30-minute episode, on the other hand, has made Ultron a far more menacing villain. Of course, his character already being given backstory and an arc in the previous film has helped.
The cel-shading animation works a treat for this episode with stunning visuals and impressive fight sequences. The sound design and the voice acting, while not groundbreaking, were adequate and for the most part, of a higher quality than a couple of preceding episodes.
The episode is a much-needed reset after the disaster that was episode 7. It also has set up what could be a very exciting finale.