Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Terminator Reference You Missed In What If...? Episode 8

The latest episode of Marvel's "What If...?", the Disney+ animated series that explores what might have happened had things gone differently in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, investigates what events would transpire if Ultron had successfully inhabited an android body. In "Avengers: Age of Ultron," the titular villain's (voiced by James Spader) plan to build and transfer his consciousness into a new form is foiled when the Avengers get a hold of it and create Vision — with a big boost from the Mind Stone.

In "What If...?" Episode 8, the Tony Stark-built Ultron succeeds in taking over a new body. He proceeds to rid the world of human life. He even uses the Earth's satellite network to launch nuclear missiles across the planet in his quest to achieve peace. Well, his version of it, anyway. He even gets the Infinity Stones from Thanos and takes his crusade to other planets. On the planet Xandar, Ultron encounters Captain Marvel. As she attempts to kill the villain, Captain Marvel makes a nostalgic reference you might have missed.

Early in the first act of Episode 8, Ultron invades Xandar. Captain Marvel, who established in previous MCU movies that she travels around the galaxy helping those in need, appears on the troubled planet. She hovers in the air and tells Ultron, "Listen, Skynet, I've seen the killer robot movie, and I've got to say, I really don't think it needs a sequel." Now, why does that line sound so familiar?

Captain Marvel's reference to 1984's The Terminator is very relevant

There are tons of movies about killer robots out there, but the "Skynet" shoutout proves Captain Marvel is referring to "The Terminator." In the 1984 movie, future soldier Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) is sent to 1980s Los Angeles to protect Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), the mother of future resistance leader John Connor, from being killed by a Terminator android (Arnold Schwarzenegger). The future, as described by Kyle, is dominated by the AI defense network Skynet (via YouTube). He explains Skynet is "new, powerful, hooked into everything, trusted to run it all" and "saw all people as a threat [...] and decided our fate in a microsecond: extermination." Sound like any MCU villain that we know?

We can also zero in on the fact that Captain Marvel is referring to the first "Terminator" installment because of both the "Captain Marvel" timeline and the release timeline for "The Terminator" movies. In "Captain Marvel," Carol Danvers is believed to have died in 1989 while testing an experimental plane. In truth, she encounters alien technology after the plane crashes, is transformed, and wakes up on the planet Kree. Because Carol's human life ended in 1989, it's a safe bet that she is only aware of 1984's "The Terminator" and has not seen the sequels. 

Technically, she may have made time to check out 1991's "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" when she returns to Earth in 1995 in "Captain Marvel." If so, it makes the second part of the line — "I've got to say, I really don't think it needs a sequel" — a funny bit from the "What If...?" writers, who may be commenting on the poor critical reception of "The Terminator" sequels (via Rotten Tomatoes).