- The penultimate episode of What if…?, titled “What If … Ultron Wins?”, Possibly the MCU’s Best Clint Barton / Natasha Romanoff Story.
- The episode also featured a surprising and entertaining Black Widow Easter egg – both for the 2021 film and for Marvel Comics.
- Knowing a little Red Guardian (David Harbor in the film) pays off.
Don’t watch now, but Marvel Animated Series Episode 8 What if..? just might have been the best Black Widow / Hawkeye story in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Listen, Natasha Romanoff is still a badass, and we have high hopes for the new one. Hawk Eye series, but in just one half-hour episode, “What if … Ultron wins?” make Clint and Natasha the last two heroes of a world threatened by a seemingly unbeatable threat: an amplified Ultron, with the body of Vision and the six Infinity Stones.
We knew from all those movie outings that Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) and Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) had a great chemistry together, and it was nice to see that relationship still crackle with it. What if…?The Lake Bell version of the character. But what worked best here was actually what put the couple at a disadvantage in the episode itself: They had no competition. Black Widow and Hawkeye are tough guys, but sometimes a guy who’s really good with bow and arrows isn’t as impressive standing next to, uh, The Incredible Hulk or Thor. By making Natasha and Clint the last two, we see that these two are truly superheroes in their own right, even without giant stature and superpowers.
The episode also provided a great moment between the characters which provided a quick win for MCU fans who went to see the Black Widow movie: Natasha grabbing the Red Guardian shield from the SHIELD storage stacks. Red Guardian, played by David Harbor in the Black Widow movie, was his “father,” an alternate Russian version of Captain America who posed as the father figure of his sleeper cell family. Seeing Nat grab his shield and try to joke with Clint (who didn’t have it) reminded us of the humanity of these two – they suffered, and at this point Nat still wants to be upbeat, but like the L The episode showed as Clint was tired. He had had enough.
The episode turns out to be really exciting, almost Infinity war– esque structure (Ultron is victorious at the end, with a cliffhanger) which also features a subversion of a plot point we saw in End of Game (Clint is the one who sacrifices himself here, falling from a high height to confront and destroy an Ultron Sea). Throughout all of this, Black Widow’s primary weapon / defense is the Red Guardian shield.
(There aren’t a ton of super clear looks at his online shield in the movie, but you can see the portrayal of Harbor alongside his Hasbro toy version – shield included – below.)
It adds an even bigger emotional layer to the episode. Since the episode centers around Ultron, we’re assuming everything up to Avengers: Age of Ultron remains true in this universe (Black Widow refers to an earlier encounter with Zola, sense Captain America: The Winter Soldier is canon). This means that even though this Natasha did not reunite with Red Guardian (this happens in our main universe after the events of Captain America: Civil War), she still has many memories of him as a “father” from her childhood.
It’s “What if … Ultron wins?” a better Black Widow vehicle than Black Widow himself? Difficult to say, given the What if… episode is only 30 minutes away, and just a little different in a lot of ways. But it certainly does the characters of Clint and Natasha well in a way we’ve rarely seen before in the MCU – and this Red Guardian shield adds a nice touch.
Flux What if…? on Disney +
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