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The Time Stone Explains How Zombie Thanos Got Infected

Warning: Contains SPOILERS for Marvel's What If...? episode 5.

A zombie Thanos arrives in Wakanda with five Infinity Stones at the end of Marvel's What If...? episode 5, but how did he get infected? The zombie apocalypse in What If...? begins during the events of Ant-Man and the Wasp — two weeks before the events of Avengers: Infinity War which means that the world lost the Avengers just in time for Thanos to execute his plan to gather the Infinity Stones and perform the Snap. But despite Thanos' immense power, he also catches the zombie virus at some point before he achieves it.

In the main MCU timeline, Thanos' quest to collect the Infinity Stones meets very few obstacles before he reaches Earth. The Mad Titan effortlessly destroys Xandar off-camera to collect the Power Stone before Avengers: Infinity War even begins, then decimates Thor's Asgardian ship after obtaining the Space Stone, then kills The Collector and steals the Reality Stone before the Guardians of the Galaxy realize what happened, and then sacrifices Gamora for the Soul Stone at Vormir. Thanos only begins to struggle when he's confronted by the Avengers at Titan, but by that point, his victory is inevitable. Thanos receives the Time Stone directly from Doctor Strange and completes the Infinity Gauntlet by ripping the Mind Stone off Vision's head without breaking a sweat.

Related: The MCU Just Remembered The Thanos Solution Infinity War Ignored

Taking that sequence of events into account, it wouldn't make any sense for zombie Thanos to possess the Time Stone at the end of What If...? episode 5 if he never met Doctor Strange and his team of Avengers on Titan, since Strange and Iron Man get infected long before meeting the Black Order (and get eaten by Hope van Dyne's wasps soon after). Considering Thor never appears during Marvel's zombie apocalypse and Thanos' minions don't make it out of New York, it's safe to say that the virus doesn't exit Earth. So, Thanos' quest may have gone exactly the same way until he went after the Time Stone. Then, Thanos must have tracked Ebony Maw to New York and found the Eye of Agamotto lying around Doctor Strange's bones. Although the Time Stone was protected by Doctor Strange's warding spell, Thanos could have forced it open as he did with the Tesseract.

While Bruce Banner, Spider-Man, Wasp, and the remaining Avengers fought to survive the zombie apocalypse, Thanos must have been infected. Then, as his infection progressed, he must have teleported to Wakanda in order to wait for Spider-Man, Black Panther, and Ant-Man's disembodied head to deliver the Mind Stone directly to him. The only weak link is how Thanos knew the Mind Stone was getting delivered to Wakanda, since unlike in Avengers: Infinity War, the fight between the Avengers and the Outriders at Wakanda doesn't happen What If...? episode 5. However, it makes much more sense that Thanos collected five Infinity Stones before getting infected than if he achieved it all while already zombified.

With the zombie virus spreading so fast and most of the Avengers gone, there's little hope for the universe of What If...? episode 5. Curiously, Thanos' plan to snap half of all life out of existence could be beneficial if it targets all those that were turned into zombies. Unfortunately, with Thanos already infected, it could be a matter of minutes before the universe loses its last glimmer of hope.

More: How Powerful Zombie Thanos Is

Marvel's What If...? releases new episodes Wednesdays on Disney+.

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