MARVEL STUDIOS’ STRANGEST EXPERIMENT so far has come to an end. The What If…? Season 1 finale, titled “The Watcher Broke His Oath,” tied together its eight previous episodes to provide some much-needed closure while also setting up future events in a possible Season 2 and the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe.
But to explain what comes next, we’re going to talk about What If’s ending. SPOILERS AHEAD as we unpack what the Season 1 finale and post-credits scene mean for Captain Carter, the Watcher, and more
What If…?’s Missing Gamora Episode
The Season 1 finale turned out to be an unexpectedly confusing experience, as it features a version of Gamora we’ve never seen before. Fans could be forgiven for thinking they missed an episode somewhere along the way, because that’s exactly what happened.
Executive producer A.C. Bradley has revealed that Season 1 wound up being one episode shorter than planned due to some pandemic-based production setbacks. That lost episode is reportedly set in a universe where Tony Stark never makes it back through the portal at the end of The Avengers. Instead, he’s dragged to Sakaar and becomes the galaxy’s new favorite arena champion in place of the Hulk. That causes a chain reaction of events that somehow results in Tony joining forces with Eitri and Gamora (wielding her father’s armor and double-bladed sword) and destroying the Infinity Gauntlet before Thanos can unleash its power.
The good news is fans will eventually see this missing episode, but it’s been bumped to Season 2. That’s sure to stir up some debates over the proper viewing order for What If…?, much like how watching Star Wars: The Clone Wars in chronological order requires a bit of extra homework.
Weirdly enough, multiple toys based on this missing Iron Man/Gamora episode have already made their way to stores. LEGO released a set that includes Tony’s Sakaarian armor, Uatu, and a mohawked Valkyrie, and Funko released a “Gamora: Daughter of Thanos” figurine in its What If…? line.
WHAT IF ENDING EXPLAINED: CAPTAIN CARTER’S POST-CREDITS SCENE
Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter gets the final word in What If, which is fitting since the show started with her too. After being plucked out of her universe by the Watcher to join his Guardians of the Multiverse, she returns to her world while in the middle of fighting Batroc the Leaper. (In her universe, the events of Winter Soldier are just getting started, though I wonder who the Winter Soldier might be in a world where Bucky never fell off that train.)
After Black Widow shows up to help Carter win the fight, Natasha says there’s something Peggy needs to see. The two walk up to a glass window. Inside, we see the Hydra Stomper, Steve Roger’s Iron Man-esque battle armor created by Howard Stark. It survived all this time, and apparently, there’s something inside.
Could a non-superpowered Steve Rogers somehow still be alive inside the Hydra Stomper? He’d be a very old man, but it also wouldn’t be the first time we saw Old Man Steve. We’ll just have to wait until What If Season 2 — or maybe sooner — to find out.
WHAT IF ENDING EXPLAINED: BLACK WIDOW
At the end of Episode 9, the version of Black Widow from the universe where Ultron won pleads not to go back home. After all, she’s the only human alive in a barren post-apocalypse. Thankfully, the Watcher takes pity on Natasha Romanoff.
Instead of sending her home, he drops her into What If Episode 3, (aka, the one where Hank Pym wipes out all the Avengers). She arrives on a helicarrier where Nick Fury, Captain Marvel, and Captain America are struggling to fight against Loki and his Asgardian army and quickly joins the fray, happy to be back among any version of the Avengers.
As for the rest of the Guardians of the Multiverse, their endings are pretty clear and involve going home to some sort of happy ending. It’s possible we could see Party Thor or T’Challah Star-Lord in some future setting, but for now, we’re happy to leave them be.
WHAT IF ENDING EXPLAINED: DOCTOR STRANGE
The “evil” Doctor Strange from What If Episode 4 serves as the unofficial leader of this team of multiversal heroes, and in the end, he’s tasked with containing Ultron for all time. The Watcher returns Strange to the dying dimension of his own making, and Strange seems to accept his fate.
But with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness coming in 2022, it’s likely only a matter of time before this version of Strange changes his mind. It’s hard to imagine that the upcoming movie won’t feature a Strange vs. Evil Strange showdown, and it’s possible we could see the What If version of this Avenger even sooner.
What If…?: Post Credits Scene and What to Expect From Season 2
Marvel has already confirmed that at least some of the characters introduced in Season 1 will continue to appear in future seasons. Stories like the Captain Carter plotline will become serialized, revealing even more far-reaching ramifications of these deviations.
Episode 9’s mid-credits sequence gives us some idea of what to expect from the next Captain Carter episode. Peggy discovers Hydra was working to recover Steve Rogers’ old Hydra Stomper armor, and we’re left to believe Steve himself may have somehow survived inside the suit. Just as the series premiere explored a new take on the events of Captain America: The First Avenger, the sequel may tackle the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier (presumably with Steve himself playing the Winter Soldier part).
Between a Captain Carter sequel and the aforementioned missing Sakaar episode, we have a pretty good idea of what to expect from two Season 2 episodes. The Season 1 finale also implies Strange Supreme’s story is far from done. When last we see him, Strange has trapped the Arnim Zola-possessed Ultron and the rogue Killmonger in a pocket dimension, ensuring neither villain can threaten the multiverse. But given that Strange Supreme is mourning the loss of his entire universe, who’s to say he won’t crack and decide to unleash the Infinity Stones once more?
It’s also worth remembering that by the time Season 2 debuts, both Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will have hit theaters (barring any further release date changes). Both films look to deal heavily with the Marvel multiverse, so they may open up new storytelling angles and alternate universes for What If…? to explore. Who knows? Maybe characters like Captain Carter or Uatu will make their live-action debuts in the Doctor Strange sequel.