In What If…? episode 7, “What If…Thor Was An Only Child?,” the MCU delivers yet another insult to Thanos. The character is once again written out of the narrative as a non-consequential joke. Each episode of Disney+’s What If…? is built on the premise that a single alteration can have far-reaching consequences over time and can make a significant difference. This idea, on the other hand, should nevertheless result in key actors in the world acting in a manner that is authentic to their own personas.
With everything that transpired, it lead up to Thanos’s appearance, triumph, and inevitable fall in Avengers: Endgame. Thanos ended up serving as the main antagonist for Phases 1 through 3. His plot to seize control of the Infinity Stones played a very important role in those Phases. So much that Marvel ended up dubbing them The Infinity Saga.
Thor is confronted with the arrival of Ultron and not Thanos as seen in What If…episode ?’s 7 timelines. This variant of Ultron has claimed the body of vibranium that was awakened as Vision in the main Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline, and he now possesses all six of the Infinity Stones.
Ultron’s emergence with the Infinity Stones raises multiple problems, the most pressing of which is how he was able to obtain all of them without the entire Earth becoming conscious of his actions. The success of Ultron, on the other hand, calls into question Thanos’ multi-movie strategy to obtain the Infinity Stones. This is a major disrespect to the character, as well as to the area of the MCU that was dependent on him, by not addressing him at all.
This isn’t the first time that What If…? has made fun of the Titan since the show’s second episode made fun of him as the punchline to a broader joke. “What If… T’Challa Became Star-Lord” depicted Thanos as a comic relief character who had been easily persuaded away from his firm conviction that he needed to completely eliminate half of the universe, implying that the events of The Infinity Saga could have been avoided if the two characters had simply talked it out instead of fighting.
While Thanos isn’t portrayed here, for Ultron to arrive, Thanos must still have lived in this dimension and have since been progressing on his plot to get the Infinity Stones. Ultron’s development at the efforts of Tony Stark was really only made possible by his gaining Loki’s scepter, which carried the Mind Stone.
Loki, in exchange, got the Mind Stone from Thanos to use in a pursuit to collect the Tesseract (the Space Stone) for the Titan. While Loki looks conversely occupied in this episode of What If…?, Thanos must have entrusted the Mind Stone to someone else. Following this, it would’ve finally fallen into Iron Man’s hands and enable the birth of Ultron.
It would have been impossible for Ultron to have appeared with all six Infinity Stones. However, not unless he had acted across the whole universe. If Thanos had been searching for the Infinity Stones himself, he would almost surely have heard about Ultron’s actions. While Thanos is a villain, his objectives are diametrically opposed to those of Ultron.
Thanos believes that by destroying half of the cosmos, he is protecting life on Earth. Whereas, Ultron seeks to clean the slate and start over from the beginning. In the What If…? universe, Thanos is believed to have faced Ultron and sought to stop him. In return, he would have effectively attempted to save half of the universe in this manner.
The fact that his possible defeat occurs off-screen does not do the character justice. This is emphasized further by the truth that the only recognition of the character is Nebula’s What If…? remark about him. Her remark clearly implies that she is unaware of her father’s death.
However, there is an alternative to this. If Thanos does not encounter Ultron, the inference is that he has simply given up on the quest that defined his existence and goal throughout the events of The Infinity Saga after he loses the Mind Stone. In any case, What If…?’s depiction of Thanos falls short of the antagonist who served as the driving force behind so much of the MCU.