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The Real Reason Tony Stark Shows Up In The What If...? Season Finale

Thanks to the brave acts of the Guardians of the Multiverse, the first season of Marvel's "What If?" has come to a close with reality still relatively intact. The show's Season 1 finale gave viewers a cloud of hammers, a new multiversal superhero team, and a heartwarming post-credits scene. But despite all the action, robots, and Marvel Cinematic Universe homages, "What If...?" Episode 9 still left viewers with some big questions. In specific, fans are wondering why one key member of the original Avengers didn't make the cut for The Watcher's mission despite being present in the episode?

We're referring, of course, to Tony Stark, who appears early on in the "What If...?" Season 1 finale wearing what appears to be Sakaaran-stamped Iron Man armor alongside a gold-suited Gamora. 

Unlike the rest of the Guardians of the Multiverse — which counts characters like Captain Carter, Party Thor, Star-Lord T'Challa, and Erik Killmonger among its members — the versions of Gamora and Tony shown in "What If...?" Episode 9 have not appeared in any of the show's previous episodes. As a result, Marvel fans remain understandably confused about their inclusion in the "What If...?" season finale. However, it turns out that the sudden nature of the duo's appearance in the episode is the direct result of one behind-the-scenes issue.

Here's why Tony and Gamora are together in the What If? Season 1 finale

It appears that the well-dressed Gamora and Tony variants seen in "What If...?" Episode 9 were originally intended to appear in an earlier episode of the show back when plans for the series to have a 10-episode first season were still in place. "What If...?" executive producer Brad Winderbaum told Collider back in August, however, that one episode from the show's first season had to be pushed to its second due to COVID-19-related delays. "We had to push an episode into Season 2. It was just, honestly, like everything else, that was a COVID impact," Winderbaum revealed. "There was an episode that just wouldn't hit the completion date, but luckily we do get to see it in the second season of the show."

With this in mind, while it has yet to be officially confirmed which of the show's Season 1 episodes had to be pushed, it seems safe to say that it is likely the Gamora and Tony-centric episode that the "What If...?" season finale briefly teases. Previous "What If...?" leaks have also indicated that the episode in question will, as his appearance in "What If...?" Season 1 suggests, see Tony Stark ending up on Sakaar (the trash planet from "Thor: Ragnarok") instead of Bruce Banner.

Fortunately, fans can look forward to seeing Tony and Gamora's episode in "What If...?" Season 2. Here's to hoping that, when "What If...?" does return, The Watcher will also be keeping a better eye on the universe's multiple realities. Then again, where's the fun in that?