What If..?’s finale debuted on Disney Plus today, and it brought some bigger multiversal mayhem with it. But fans may have already gotten the big reveal of the finale spoiled for them all the way back in August… thanks to a Hyundai Tucson commercial?
Spoilers for “What If… The Watcher Broke His Oath” and What If…?’s first season below:
Marvel projects are no stranger to commercials and product placement, of course, but the Hynduai commercial (part of a series of ads that the company has been doing together with Disney Plus) marks a particularly strange turn — one that mashes storytelling with advertising.
The main conceit of the bulk of What If…?’s early episodes was that the series was an anthology, providing standalone tales in different corners of Marvel’s multiverse that offered alternative takes on the existing films. Each episode was linked together through the narration of Uatu the Watcher, a god-like being that existed to observe — but not intervene in — the events of the divergent timelines.
Of course, the MCU being the MCU, where interconnected storytelling reigns supreme, it soon became clear that What If…? was barrelling towards a multiversal mashup, incited by the rise of an Infinity Stone-powered Ultron/Vision hybrid introduced in the previous episode, dubbed “Infinity Ultron.” Infinity Ultron aimed to use its power to last waste, not just to its own universe, but, thanks to the comic awareness granted by possessing all six stones, to all universes.
In response, Uatu (after futilely duking it out in a cosmic brawl) decides to break his policy of nonintervention and gathers together a group of heroes from the previous What If…? episodes (and an alternate version of Gamora whose episode was pushed to next season after COVID delays) to form “The Guardians of the Multiverse” to defeat Infinity Ultron and save the MCU’s fledgling multiverse from destruction. Superheroics ensue.
The foundation of the Guardians of the Multiverse is meant to be a major moment in the show. Uatu breaks his sacred oath and crosses the line from observer to participant in Marvel’s adventures. It unites separate heroes from across different Marvel installments to unite against a larger foe, almost like an Avengers movie in miniature.
But to anyone who’d seen the Hyundai Tucson commercial — which has been airing for months, in as prominent of places as primetime NFL games — the entire concept had already been spoiled months in advance. The ad shows various heroes from What If…?, including Captain Carter, T’Challa, Star-Lord, Strange Supreme, and the hard-partying Thor being brought together by The Watcher to lay waste to an army of Ultron drones (albeit with the help of an incongruous placed Hyundai).
The weirdly spoilery Hyundai commercial is the perfect example of the current state of spoiler culture in 2021, especially as streaming has expanded to include major franchises like Star Wars and Marvel that rely the most on their big moments and reveals. In an age of overly long trailers that reveal major plot points or villains, or the vast Twitter threads and trending topics that appear minutes after shows debut in the middle of the night, what’s one more national ad campaign that reveals a big surprise of a show.
There’s more to What If…? and its finale than a car commercial can show. And with more Disney Plus shows on the way — and presumably, more corporate tie-ins to go with them — it’s likely that this latest crack in the Marvel wall of secrecy is just another thing that fans and creators will have to learn to live with.
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