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What If...? Every MCU Easter Egg In Episode 8 | Screen Rant

Caution: spoilers ahead for What If...? episode 8.

Which MCU and Marvel Easter eggs did you spot in What If...? episode 8's mind-bending Ultron story? Previously, What If...? deftly avoided pesky continuity by telling a self-contained scenario each week, despite dropping a string of tantalizing cliffhanger endings. Something had to give sooner or later, and episode 8 picks up where last week left off, when Party Thor was confronted by a hybrid of Ultron and Vision imbued with a full complement of Infinity Stones.

What If...?'s point of divergence on this occasion comes during Avengers: Age of Ultron. In traditional MCU history, the Avengers stopped Tony Stark's Ultron AI inhabiting Vision's body, instead turning the android into one of their own. In What If...? episode 8, Ultron not only succeeds in merging with Vision, but also steals Thanos' Infinity Gauntlet when the Mad Titan comes to Earth. Wielding unstoppable power, Ultron takes his grudge against organic life through the vast reaches of space, and then into the multiverse, going toe-to-toe with The Watcher himself.

Related: What If...? How Many Episodes There Are (And When The Finale Is)

But while Ultron may be bad for humanity, his arrival is great news for MCU Easter egg hunters. Episode 8 is easily What If...?'s most wide-reaching installment yet, rocketing through different corners of the Marvel multiverse and crossing over worlds in chaotic fashion. With Ultron effortlessly breaking down the dimensional barriers, What If...? episode 8 is one of the most generous in terms of hidden references, comic book allusions, cunning parallels to past movies, and hilarious secret in-jokes. Here are all of the Easter eggs from Ultron's MCU rampage.

What If...? episode 8 opens with Hawkeye and Black Widow battling a fleet of Ultron drones, and though Clint Barton is, as usual, relying on his trusty bow and arrow, he's also packing Harry Potter's invisibility cloak. The device is most likely a miniaturized version of the cloaking tech we've already seen on SHIELD's helicarrier (in 2012's The Avengers) and Tony Stark's plane (in Spider-Man: Homecoming). Clint and Natasha would have access to this tech, and the basic principle seems more or less identical.

As well as a new cloak, What If...?'s Hawkeye also comes with a stylish metal arm that even Bucky Barnes would be proud of. Episode 8 doesn't explain how Clint Barton lost his limb in the first place, but the injury could be a nod toward Avengers: Age of Ultron. In the 2015 film's opening Hydra assault, Hawkeye is hit with a laser cannon, almost killing him. Had Hawkeye been standing a few millimetres to the side, the blast would've taken off his arm instead of gashing his stomach. This could be another change between the main MCU timeline and What If...? episode 8's universe.

Avengers: Age of Ultron gave the broadest possible adaptation of the Marvel comic it was based on, but What If...? episode 8 dares to animate the story more faithfully. Earth's apocalyptic landscape is much closer to how Ultron's attack ended in the source material, including the survival of both Hawkeye and Black Widow, but Ultron's total victory over mankind never came about in live-action.

Related: What If...? Why Scarlett Johansson Was Replaced As Black Widow

As The Watcher recounts exactly how things got so bad, What If...? episode 8 plays back Tony Stark's creation of Ultron. The montage begins, and we see a brief glimpse of Loki's scepter being studied by the Avengers. The Mind Stone-powered weapon was seized along with Loki in The Avengers, and later used to create both Vision and Ultron in the sequel.

Tony Stark has many famous MCU quotes. "Genius. Billionaire. Playboy. Philanthropist." "I am Iron Man." "How do you go to the bathroom in the suit? Just like that." Ominously making eyes toward Loki's staff, What If...?'s Tony Stark repeats his most famous line from Avengers: Age of Ultron - "I see a suit of armor around the world."

The Watcher's recap then reels through a series of scenes from both the live-action MCU movies and previous What If...? episodes. In order, there's Ultron's awakening (which happens differently in the main MCU), Hawkeye aiming an arrow at Thor, Hulk's university rampage, the Avengers assembling in New York, Tony Stark's convoy being attacked in Afghanistan, the Nazi attacks of World War II, and Thor channeling lightning through Mjolnir. Episode 8 then switches to Ultron presiding over his army in Ulysses Klaue's shipyard base and, finally, the birth of Vision, which uses almost identical direction and framing as the android's debut in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Scarlet Witch forces Tony Stark's mind to hallucinate the Avengers' defeat. Iron Man glimpses his superhero pals scattered helplessly across the ground, where Captain America's shield has been shockingly split in half. Though the setting is completely different (the NEXUS server room instead of a rocky planet surface), What If...? recreates Stark's nightmare when revealing how Ultron takes down the Avengers in this universe, complete with Cap's smashed shield.

Related: Kang Explains Why Iron Man Dies So Much In What If - Theory Explained

Tony Stark died (and "died") multiple times during his live-action MCU career, and What If...? has taken that trope to ridiculous levels by finding new and exciting ways to kill Iron Man almost every other episode. From poisoning to impalement, What If...? has not been kind to Robert Downey Jr.'s likeness, and episode 8 adds a new demise to his ever-increasing catalog. This time, Stark is a victim of Ultron's apocalyptic nuclear blast.

That'll be The Incredible Hulk's General Thunderbolt Ross watching as Ultron destroys the world in What If...? episode 8. Ross has appeared previously in the Disney+ anthology's Yellowjacket and Killmonger episodes, but he makes a more subtle cameo this week.

Upon completing his goal of creating peace by... er, wiping out humanity, Ultron surveys his work with a sorrowful sense of satisfaction. Only when the camera zooms out do we see the android is actually standing upon the ruins of Stark/Avengers Tower - a perfect metaphor for how Ultron overcame his creator.

What If...?'s changes to Earth's fate have no impact upon the wider machinations of Thanos elsewhere in the MCU, and as Ultron celebrates his victory, the Mad Titan makes his way to our humble planet. His scene deliberately mirrors Thanos' grand entrance in Avengers: Infinity War, including the crackling black portal and the camera framing as Marvel's big bad strolls into view. This time, however, Thanos lands in New York instead of Wakanda, since the Mind Stone's location has changed. The severity of his arrival makes it all the more funny when...

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Thanos wanted to cut the universe's population in half, and when he arrives on Earth to collect the Mind Stone in What If...? episode 8, Ultron bisects him straight down the middle. Who says androids don't have a sense of humor?

Taking custody of the remaining Infinity Stones, Ultron effortlessly builds his cybernetic army and wraps a suit of armor around himself. In a neat MCU Easter egg, however, the ascending Ultron also gives himself a purple cape similar to Vision's. This subtle moment nods to Avengers: Age of Ultron, when Vision noticed Thor's cape and decided it'd look better on him.

Using the combined power of the Infinity Stones, Ultron builds himself a space-faring battle station to carry his anti-flesh philosophy across the entire universe. The round structure combined with Ultron's handheld laser cannon is very reminiscent of the Star Wars Death Star. This isn't the first time What If...? has paid homage to the galaxy far, far away either - in Star-Lord's episode, T'Challa walked past a ship closely resembling an X-Wing.

Preparing to venture beyond Earth, Ultron promises "peace in our time." This line is a mocking echo of Tony Stark in Avengers: Age of Ultron, who used the same phrase when envisioning his pet android as the savior of Earth.

Related: Who Is The Watcher? What If Narrator's Powers & Comics Backstory Explained

Slaughtering his way across the galaxy, Ultron encounters a host of familiar planets, even involving himself in famous events from MCU history. The destruction begins on Thor's home planet of Asgard, before moving onto the Sovereign. The latter coincides with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2's opening sequence, where Peter Quill's space outlaws were fighting the Abilisk monster (Baby Groot was otherwise occupied). Interestingly, we see Gamora in action here, suggesting Thanos earned the Soul Stone via other means.

Later in the same montage, Ultron destroys Ego the Living Planet, which actually makes a sad face as it's consumed in drones.

Thor: Ragnarok's Korg is often remembered as the stone-faced revolutionary hilariously portrayed by Taika Waititi, but before Thor and Hulk landed on Sakaar and stole his limelight, Korg was actually one of the planet's gladiators. Thor and Hulk are obviously dead in What If...? episode 8, so when Ultron makes his way to Sakaar, we actually witness Korg as an arena combatant. Even better, the Kronan appears to be carrying the same club/laser hybrid he uses in Thor: Ragnarok's Battle of the Bifrost Bridge. The Grandmaster is also shown on Sakaar, quietly contemplating his impending doom.

As Ultron lays waste to Xandar, Captain Marvel charges the android upon entering orbit, bringing him crashing to the ground. It's very similar to the final battle of Avengers: Endgame, when Carol Danvers used that very move to bring down Thanos' giant spacecraft.

Related: What If Is Ruining The MCU’s Multiverse Opportunity After Loki

As Captain Marvel knocks some sense into Ultron (momentarily, at least), Xandar's Nova Corps HQ building can be glimpsed in the background, with the golden star logo immediately identifiable.

While pooping on Thor's party last week, Captain Marvel referenced 1980s hair metal band Whitesnake, giving away her age somewhat. What If...? episode 8 continues the joke, with Danvers nicknaming Ultron "Skynet" as a nod to the Terminator franchise. In a double-dose of Easter egg goodness, Carol also says that 1984's The Terminator really doesn't "need a sequel." The irony, of course, is that Terminator 2: Judgement Day released in 1991 (while Carol was off-world) and is widely regarded as one of the best sequels ever made.

In Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel joined her fellow Avengers in battle against Thanos, and after the Mad Titan reclaimed his Infinity Gauntlet, she struggled desperately to rip it from his hand. Paying tribute to that scene, What If...?'s Ultron fight finds Captain Marvel straining to tear the Mind Stone from the villain's forehead.

Hawkeye and Black Widow infiltrate Russia's intelligence warehouse to find a secret weapon against Ultron. As the endless rows of lights gradually illuminate, the archer jokes about Raiders of the Lost Ark. The comparison comes from the very end of Harrison Ford's Indiana Jones debut, where the Ark of the Covenant is boxed up and stored away in a warehouse very similar to the Kremlin's facility in What If...? episode 8.

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Among Russia's collection of trinkets is a red and silver version of Captain America's shield, which was almost certainly the weapon of Red Guardian (the super-soviet super-soldier played by David Harbour in Black Widow) before he was jailed. It's especially touching how Black Widow adopts ownership of the shield, given how Red Guardian was her father figure while undercover in 1990s Ohio. Though the shield comes from her adopted dad, Black Widow's moves come from Captain America, bouncing the weapon off walls and enemies like we've seen Steve Rogers do countless times in the MCU.

Confirming the similarity between Ultron's ship and the Empire's Death Star to be intentional, Hawkeye collapses exhausted and despondent after failing to find anything of use in the Russian archives. In a neat Marvel Easter egg, he complains, "the Death Star plans are not in the main computer." This line was spoken by a Stormtrooper to Darth Vader during A New Hope's opening sequence, since the plans in question had already been smuggled away by Princess Leia and R2-D2.

Black Widow reveals rebooting Arnim Zola is her grand plan to defeat Ultron, but What If...? rejigs the Captain America villain's MCU backstory. Natasha describes Zola as a Hydra scientist who infiltrated SHIELD, and this tallies with Toby Jones' MCU character, who was arrested at the end of Captain America, only to confirm in Captain America: The Winter Soldier that he was recruited by SHIELD and rebuilt Hydra in secret. As Natasha also explains, Zola uploaded his mind into a computer before dying in 1972, but was killed once and for all in Captain America: The Winter Soldier when Captain America and Black Widow saw his digitized soul destroyed at Camp Lehigh.

In main MCU continuity, this is where Arnim Zola's story ended. In What If...? episode 8's universe, however, another Zola program exists at the Siberian base where the Winter Soldier program was born under supervision of the Nazi scientist himself. The snowy lab is a key location in Captain America: Civil War.

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Black Widow is shocked to discover Clint Barton's middle name is actually "Francis," with Hawkeye claiming to have inherited it from his grandmother. Though also his middle name in the Marvel comic books, an alternate Earth's Hawkeye and Mockingbird have a son called Francis Barton, who becomes a member of the Next Avengers.

While under the influence of Loki's scepter in The Avengers, Hawkeye shot an arrow with a USB device straight into Nick Fury's helicarrier, uploading a virus to SHIELD's servers and knocking out the ship's computer systems. Clint carries a similar weapon in What If...?, which he uses to transfer Arnim Zola's consciousness from a bulky 1970s rig into an Ultron drone.

Receiving his mission objective from Hawkeye and Black Widow, Arnim Zola's digital avatar quips, "he will not be the first genocidal megalomaniac I have had to contend with, ja?" This line is a thinly-veiled insult aimed in Red Skull's direction, as though Zola remained loyal to Hydra until the red, his beliefs didn't always line up with Johann Schmidt's, especially near the end of Captain America.

Arnim Zola's personality is transferred into an Ultron drone, giving him a robotic physical body for the very first time... in the MCU, at least. Zola-tron could be a nod to the Marvel comic books, where Arnim exists as a robotic body with a screen in the stomach, from which he communicates the same way as his MCU counterpart.

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Running from the army of Ultron drones descending upon Hydra's Siberian base, Hawkeye performs his trademark jump-and-shoot pose, seen first in The Avengers, and more recently in the trailer for Clint Barton's Disney+ solo series. The archer then doubles-down with a stylish turn-and-shoot when sacrificing himself so that Black Widow and Zola-tron can escape. Speaking of which...

When it becomes clear that Hawkeye and Natasha can't both escape the pursuing androids, it's Clint Barton who confesses to being sick of fighting, nobly giving his life to take down the chasing drones. The manner in which Hawkeye goes down for Natasha, and the way Natasha grabs his hand and implores him to reconsider, is a direct flip of Black Widow's Vormir death in Avengers: Endgame. Back then, it was Hawkeye grabbing Natasha's hand while she gently asked to be let go.

For the very first time, Jeffrey Wright's Uatu the Watcher finally gets his hands dirty in What If...? episode 8, and whilst clashing fists with Ultron, the cosmic voyeur demonstrates many powers he wields in Marvel's comic lore. These include telekinetically tossing Ultron through the multiverse, defending himself with force fields, and using cosmic energy as a weapon.

A shocked Watcher exclaims how Ultron's dimension-shattering power shouldn't be possible, to which the android replies in shameless meta fashion, "oh, but anything is possible in the multiverse." Not only does this line come with a knowing wink from What If...?'s writers, but this is pretty much exactly what MCU fans have been saying whenever Spider-Man: No Way Home or Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness comes up in conversation.

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During his debut in last week's installment, Ultron's distinctive helmet and Vision visage somewhat resembled another classic Marvel villain - Galactus. Episode 8 confirms we weren't seeing things. During the Watcher vs. Ultron fight, the latter suddenly grows to planetary proportions and takes a big chomp out of a nearby galaxy. Not only does he look more like Galactus than ever in this moment, but the comic villain is both super-massive and nicknamed the "Devourer of Worlds." What If...? gives fans the slightest taste of what MCU Galactus might look like.

When Ultron sends Uatu crashing down to an alternate Earth, the assembled city crowd quickly whip out their smartphones to capture the moment. Among the onlookers is a man in a pineapple shirt - the very same Pineapple Shirt Guy seen living it up in Las Vegas during last week's What If...? Party Thor episode.

A background character with questionable fashion sense isn't the only Marvel Easter egg in What If...? episode 8's New York scene. On a giant Times Square screen, Steve Rogers is shown being sworn in as the newest President of the United States. This shocking Captain America career change partially derives from the Marvel comic books, where Rogers was offered the White House gig, but turned it down. In another universe, he clearly takes a different path.

As Ultron batters Uatu right across the multiverse, their New York surroundings suddenly splinter into Wakanda, with the familiar Dora Milaje soldiers in the foreground. The fight then moves into a medieval setting, which fractures into a Skrull spacecraft.

More: What If Episode 8 Ending Explained: How The Watcher Will Beat Ultron

What If...? concludes next Wednesday on Disney+.

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