The multiversal remit of What If…? has allowed the animated anthology series to deliver more from fan-favorite characters whose stories have concluded in the mainstream MCU. We’ve seen the likes of Black Widow, Iron Man, and Captain America again on the show, for example, without their appearances having any effect on the so-called Sacred Timeline, however.
And yet the latest episode brought back one significant villain in a way that actually could tee him up for a proper return later down the line. Episode 8, titled “What If… Ultron Won?”, saw Natasha Romanoff and Hawkeye as the Earth’s last line of defense against an all-conquering Ultron. They realize that the only way to combat an evil A.I. is… another evil A.I. so they seek out the last remaining backup of the digitized consciousness of Dr. Armin Zola, which is located in a HYDRA base in Siberia (the same one visited in Captain America: Civil War).
This is a big deal as it’s the first time we’ve heard that there are multiple versions of Zola. Back in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, when the Zola A.I. at Camp Lehigh was destroyed, it looked like the former HYDRA scientist was done. Obviously, this is set in another timeline, but all of the What If…? universes match the prime universe just with one big change. So, logically, the Zola copy in Siberia must also be there in the main MCU.
So, as ComicBook.com has pointed out, this does suggest that Toby Jones may return as Zola yet again for Captain America 4, set to star Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson’s Sentinel of Liberty, along with Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes. Seeing as Sam and Bucky already faced Zemo again in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, the door is open for them to battle another former foe of Steve Rogers’ in Cap 4. Could it be Zola?
Marvel’s What If…? reaches its season finale next Wednesday on Disney Plus.