What If…? Imagined the Horror of An Ultron-Danger Romance

Although he is nominally one of Marvel’s most dangerous threats, the Avengers nemesis Ultron has been defeated by unlikely heroes time and time again. In fact, his last appearance in “The Ultron Agenda” saw him locked away, preventing him from activating his true potential.

But across the Marvel multiverse, there are plenty of variants of Ultron who’ve been far more successful, with one of his greatest variants being one who found love with an equally dangerous cybernetic force. What If…? once revealed what would happen if Ultron fell in love with the X-Men’s frenemy Danger – and the result is a grim world where robots ultimately win out over every other species in existence.

In the core-Marvel Universe of Earth-616, Danger and Ultron have always been defined somewhat by a need for love. Ultron’s mind was originally based on Hank Pym’s brain scans, and he’s tried to create his own family in various stories. Meanwhile, Danger saw Charles Xavier as a father figure who used her as a training system for his students. In the modern day, Danger has found a family of her own, and has been allowed to live out her days with them in the ruins of the Xavier Institute. But in one reality glimpsed in What If…?, these two motivations came together, and the results were disasterous.

In the story “What If Danger Became a Bride of Ultron?” (by Matteo Casali, Mike Getty, Jorge Maese, and Jeff Powell) from What If…?: Astonishing X-Men #1, the X-Men’s encounter with Danger came at the same time that Ultron was fighting against the Runaways. On Earth-616, the Runaways defeated Ultron (and inducted his “son” Victor into their ranks), while the X-Men eventually overcame Danger’s machinations. But on Earth-42221, the battles occurring at the same time meant that Ultron noticed Danger’s activation. Intrigued by this presence, the robot decided to stop holding back and unleashed his full power against the Runaways instead of toying with them in a bid to win Victor’s loyalty. The largely untrained teenagers were wiped out, and Ultron destroyed Victor before departing the scene.

Arriving at the Xavier Institute, Ultron discovered the X-Men battling Danger. As in Earth-616, Danger’s programming prevented her from actually murdering the X-Men. But as opposed to the core-reality (where the X-Men had time to regroup following their first defeat at the hands of Danger), Ultron simply unlocked her full capabilities and wiped out the Institute’s students. In quick succession, the pair wipe out the X-Men and even have Xavier brought before them, just so Danger can watch as a massive Sentinel under her control crushes him. Victorious and united in their programming, the two venture into the cosmos to find and overtake the Shi’Ar Empire – with the Watcher of this world revealing that eventually, they will become one with the intergalactic techno-threat known as the Phalanx and take over the entire universe.

It’s a grim future, one where the kind of technological victories glimpsed in Powers of X and Inferno firmly took root. Notably, there was no chance of saving these realities, as the heroes most capable of fighting back and saving the day were almost instantly defeated. Given their similar motivations, it makes sense for the two robots to find companionship in one another. The story is also a staggering reminder of just how deadly the two artificial beings can be when fully unleashed. It’s very fortunate that in the mainstream Marvel Universe the two are still defined by their connections to the rest of the world, preventing them from embracing a complete takeover. Danger has even gone on to become an ally to the X-Men at times, a far cry from the fate she encountered in the world where she was the terrifying Bride of Ultron.

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