Marvel's What If...? Finale And Credits Scene: What Does This Mean For Season 2?

This week brought the first season finale of Marvel's "What If...?" animated series. After starting off as an anthology series exploring alternate timelines in the Marvel Cinematic Universe's newly unfurled multiverse, the series finally brought several different timelines together, giving us the first assembly of the superhero team known as the Guardians of the Multiverse. But what does the "What If...?" season finale mean for the second season that's already in the works? 

There are a couple things we know, and a couple things we can speculate on. Plus, in case you didn't hear, there's a mid-credits scene in the season finale that sets the stage for the return of a couple characters. So let's dig into the "What If...?" season finale and credits scene to discuss what we can expect in the next batch of episodes.

Marvel's What If...? Finale Explained

The first season finale of "Marvel's What If...?" finds The Watcher quickly jumping around the multiverse to assemble a collection of superheroes, creating what he believes is the perfect team to stop Ultron from wreaking havoc on every single universe out there. The team includes Captain Carter, Party Thor, Erik Killmonger as Black Panther, T'Challa as Star-Lord, the evil, gaunt version of Doctor Strange, and Gamora, and they come to be known as the Guardians of the Multiverse

You might have noticed that Gamora is the only character out of that bunch who didn't have her own episode to establish her existence. There's actually a reason for that, but we'll explain that a bit later.

Anyway, after The Watcher assembles these heroes in an illusion of a World War II bar that Doctor Strange has created (which gives Captain Carter some bittersweet memories thanks to a photo of young Steve Rogers on the wall), he lays out the task at hand. They all pretty much just accept what's happening without much skepticism and very little conflict between the superheroes, through they have some suspicions about whether or not Erik Killmonger as Black Panther can be trusted.

There's a huge battle between our heroes and Ultron as they try to snag the Mind Stone. This is easily the best part of the episode because we get to see how these characters use their superpowers together, and there are some outstanding moments of teamwork, again solidifying the action as the most commendable part of this entire series. Rather than going through the battle beat-by-beat, it's better when you see it for yourself, so let's just cut to the chase.

Part of the plan that the Guardians of the Multiverse have concocted with The Watcher involves taking the Mind Stone to another universe where they can quickly destroy it before Ultron tracks them down. Gamora has an Infinity Stone smashing device that they're intending on using to turn the Mind Stone into dust. Oh, and this universe is the post-apocalyptic world where Black Widow and Hawkeye were the last survivors against Ultron and his army after they nuked the planet and defeated The Avengers, so Black Widow also becomes one of the Guardians of the Multiverse.

Saving the Day

Unfortunately, the Guardians of the Multiverse quickly learn that Gamora's Infinity Stone smashing device won't work. For some reason, it doesn't have the power to destroy this version of the Mind Stone because it's from a different universe. There's no real explanation as to why that's the case, so we're left to assume that maybe the make-up of the stone that was formed so long ago is different from that of the Mind Stone in Gamora's universe, and the machine isn't equipped to handle it. 

Fortunately, Black Widow has another idea thanks to their Ultron-defeating tactics from the penultimate episode of this season. She still has Hawkeye's arrow that allowed them to inject the artificial intelligence of Arnim Zola into Ultron and his entire army. Captain Carter and Black Widow time their attack just right to expose Ultron's face and shoot the arrow directly into one of his eyes, releasing Zola into Ultron's body. After the digital faces of Ultron and Zola interact, Zola takes over Ultron's body and stops him from using the Infinity Stones.

However, the Guardians of the Multiverse were right not to trust Erik Killmonger. Throughout the episode, Killmonger was rather entranced by an Ultron robot head that Thor brought with him from his universe, where he was dealing with an invasion of the robot army. It turns out that he figured out how to use it to his advantage. The nanotechnology allows him to summon Ultron's armor onto his own suit, giving him the power to wield the Infinity Stones. Killmonger believes The Watcher owes them the Infinity Stones so they can use them to fix their own universes. The Guardians disagree, so Killmonger prepares to destroy them. But a surprising face saves the day again. 

Zola is still in control of the body of Vision that was underneath Ultron's armor. He attempts to summon the armor and the Infinity Stones back onto his Vision body, and Doctor Strange has a revelation: They were never meant to fully defeat whoever was wielding the stones. Instead, they only needed to separate the stones from Ultron's body. As Zola and Killmonger are engaged in a telekinetic battle with the Infinity Stones hovering between them, Doctor Strange creates a pocket dimension that will keep them fighting over the Infinity Stones forever. Of course, that doesn't preclude the possibility of the Infinity Stones being gathered again in another universe, but whatever.

Back to Their Universes

With the threat to the multiverse stopped, everyone has to go back to their own universe. Captain Carter is hesitant because she knows that there's another universe out there where she can be with Steve Rogers again, but The Watcher says that she's needed back home. As we saw at the beginning of this episode, Captain Carter has made it to right around the beginning of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," where she and Black Widow are trying to stop Batroc and his pirates from trying to hijack a ship. Carter reluctantly agrees, and goes back to continue her story. (More on that later).

But Black Widow stays behind, refusing to go back to her own universe because she's the only one left. Natasha even lashes out at The Watcher for sitting back and letting these kinds of terrible things happen to her and the rest of the Guardians of the Multiverse. But since The Watcher has already broken his oath, he's already planning on making it up to Natasha by taking her somewhere else. 

Suddenly, Natasha finds herself in the middle of a battle on a SHIELD helicarrier. Captain America is fighting off some Asgardian warriors, and it becomes clear that this is the universe where almost all of the Avengers were killed by Hank Pym, including Black Widow. The Watcher brought Natasha here to live out the rest of her life, and she doesn't hesitate to save the day by delivering a swift kick to Loki and using his scepter to brainwash him into being under her control. Nick Fury acknowledges that this isn't the Black Widow he knows, but believes that she still has the same spirit. 

Meanwhile, The Watcher is back in the cosmos, where he vows to protect the multiverse at all costs as he continues to observe these stories.

Marvel's What If...? Credits Scene

Hang on a minute! Even though the end of every other episode of Marvel's "What If...?" featured a final moment that felt like the kind of credits scene we get in the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, this is the first time that we get an actual mid-credits sequence, and it involves Captain Carter.

Captain Carter has returned to the exact moment that The Watcher beckoned her to join the Guardians of the Multiverse. Carter takes a sudden punch from Batroc, but Black Widow stops him with her electric charges. Natasha reveals that she's figured out what Batroc and the pirates were trying to obtain on this ship.

In a steel container, Captain Carter can see the Hydra Stomper, the suit of armor that Howard Stark designed for Steve Rogers. But that's not all. As a nice piano rendition of the "Captain America" theme is heard, Natasha says that there's someone inside. 

What Does This All Mean for What If...? Season 2

Now that it's been established that each of these universes can mingle by having these alternate superheroes team up, what does that mean for "What If...? season 2? Well, it likely means that we'll continue to follow the stories of at least some of these heroes, giving us more remixes of the rest of the Marvel movies in their respective franchises. 

Captain Carter is currently in the earlier part of Captain America's timeline, since she just experienced a riff on the beginning of "The Winter Soldier" story. T'Challa as Star-Lord has now met Peter Quill, and a shot of them fighting together is seen in one of the final moments of the finale. Black Widow has a new universe to play in, which is still lingering around the time of the original "Thor" movie. Thor is back with Jane Foster on Earth. All of these threads can easily be picked up to continue their respective franchise remix. On top of that, there's still room to explore characters who haven't yet entered the fray. It's been teased that characters from "Eternals," "Shang-Chi," and "Black Widow" could be on the table. 

In fact, we already know one story that we'll see unfold in the second season, though it was meant to originally be part of this first season. Remember when we said Gamora is the only member of the Guardians of the Multiverse to not get her own origin story? The episode that would have set up her character wasn't able to be finished in time. As "What If...?" director Bryan Andrews informed us, one of the animation vendors got hit hard with COVID-19, and it delayed their production schedule. 

That means the episode that was originally meant to air earlier in the first season of "What If...?" will now be part of the second season. It's described as a lighter episode involving Gamora, in which Tony Stark basically plays out Hulk's storyline from "Thor: Ragnarok." As we saw in the first season finale, he ends up building a Sakaarian Iron Man suit — but beyond that, we'll have to wait and see how the episode plays out. 

What Will Bring the Guardians of the Multiverse Back?

More than likely, "What If...?" will continue with these anthology style stories that give us a new take on a movie from the MCU. By the end of the season there will probably be another reason to bring the Guardians of the Multiverse back together, and we'll probably have some new members join the team as well. As for who the villain will be that requires such a superhero assembly, we're not sure. However, there is one villain that I'm predicting we'll see in the second season.

The mid-credits scene for the "What If...?" season finale feels like it's a lovely tease for a wonderful reunion between Peggy Carter and Steve Rogers. However, since this scene echoes the beginning of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," I'm betting that this version of Steve Rogers will take a dark turn and, rather than embracing Captain Carter, Rogers will become her own version of the brainwashed Bucky Barnes, whom Peggy feels compelled to save. As for director Bryan Andrews and head writer A.C. Bradley, they would only say that we'll have to wait and see what happens with that storyline.

Is it possible that an evil version of Steve Rogers could be a big bad to contend with in "What If...?" season 2? What other villains could be remixed into a bigger threat that requires the Guardians of the Multiverse to reassemble? Considering animated shows take longer to be completed, we might be waiting awhile to find out. But the "What If...?" crew was already working on season 2 while Marvel Studios was developing the likes of "WandaVision," "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier," and "Loki," so we're not likely to see Agatha Harkness or Kang the Conqueror appearing in animated form just yet. Even so, the rest of the possibilities are truly endless, so stay tuned.