Marvel Just Secretly Introduced An X-Men Location Into The MCU – Screen Rant

What If…? episode 8 secretly introduced a location from X-Men spinoff comics into the MCU: the Panoptichron, the heart of the Multiverse.
Warning! Spoilers ahead for Marvel’s What If…? episode 8.
The eighth episode of Marvel’s What If…? secretly introduced an X-Men-associated location into the MCU. When Disney acquired the bulk of Fox’s film and TV empire, Marvel Studios regained the license to the X-Men and the Fantastic Four. Marvel’s president Kevin Feige has always been clear the focus will be on “non-marqueemutant characters associated with the X-Men. “There are hundreds of names on those documents, on those agreements,” he observed, and just as he predicted Marvel has wasted no time introducing some of the more obscure concepts and characters. The Falcon & the Winter Soldier introduced viewers to the X-Men’s island location Madripoor, while Ursa Major – in the comics, a mutant with the power to turn into a giant bear – appeared in Black Widow.
The pattern continued, albeit even more subtly, in What If…? episode 8. Up until now, this has been an anthology, with each episode exploring another alternate timeline. However, the final episodes are setting up the creation of the Guardians of the Multiverse, an alliance of interdimensional superheroes created to defeat the threat of an Infinity Stone-powered Ultron. Having destroyed all life in his own universe, Ultron transcended to a previously unknown state of heightened cosmic awareness where he sensed the presence of the Watcher, inspiring him to launch an attack on the Watcher’s base. In the comics, the Watcher lives on the Moon, watching over the Earth, but in the MCU he clearly dwells at the heart of the Multiverse in a crystalline realm.
Related: Every MCU Easter Egg In What If? Episode 8
This concept will be new to most viewers, but in reality it’s lifted straight from the X-Men tie-in comic book series Exiles. The Exiles are a group of heroes plucked from different dimensions, who battle to save the Multiverse from terrifying threats. This is clearly analogous to the MCU’s Guardians of the Multiverse. They ultimately discovered a crystal palace at the heart of the Multiverse, which they called the Panoptichron, from which every different dimension can be viewed through a crystal lens. The Panoptichron tends to be colored pink, evocative of the X-Men’s M’Kraan Crystal, which allows the shaping of all reality. All this matches up perfectly with the Watcher’s home in the MCU.
It’s easy to forget that when Marvel regained the rights to the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, they didn’t just gain Marvel’s First Family and mutants. The X-Men in particular have encountered a plethora of alien races – from the Shi’ar Empire to Skrull mutants – and starred in a massive number of Multiversal stories that are perfect for the MCU’s Phase 4 approach. In this case, the introduction of the Panoptichron may well set up a very different What If…? season 2, one that ditches the anthology approach and instead uses the Guardians of the Multiverse to explore different dimensions, righting wrongs on a cosmic scale just as the Exiles did in the comics.
Meanwhile, it is interesting to note that the MCU’s version of the Watcher is more powerful than the comics. It’s true the Watcher is weaker than Ultron, but the battle between the two cosmic beings was the most spectacular fight seen in the MCU to date, with both unleashing raw power that shattered the dimensions. The conflict paid homage to some of comics’ most skilled artists, most notably Jack Kirby, drawing on countless artistic ideas he had brought into comics for the first time. What If…? episode 8 was truly a love-letter to comics, making it remarkably effective.
More: What If…? Episode 8 Asks 9 Big Questions About Ultron & The Watcher
Marvel’s What If…? streams Wednesdays on Disney+.
Tom Bacon is one of Screen Rant’s staff writers, as well as a Peer Mentor for new writers and a member of the Care Team, offering support and a listening ear to members of the Comics group. A lifelong fan of major franchises including Star Wars, Doctor Who, and Marvel, Tom is delighted his childhood is back – and this time it’s cool. You can find him on Twitter @TomABacon. A graduate of Edge Hill University, Tom remains strongly connected with his alma mater as a volunteer chaplain. He’s heavily involved with his local church, and anyone who checks him out on Twitter will swiftly learn he’s into British politics too.

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