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 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: The Watcher
Things wrap up a lot more neatly for the Watcher, who returns to his place observing the multiverse with one significant change. As he subtly states at the end of What If, he’s no longer bound to simply observe and not interfere. He now knows he must “protect” the multiverse too.
In the comics, the Watcher has a long history of interfering and his appearance often means something very bad is about to happen. It’s likely only a matter of time before he shows up in the live-action MCU to herald some terrible new threat.
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 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...? is streaming now on Disney+.