Warning! This article contains spoilers for What If season 2, episode 1, “What If… Nebula Joined The Nova Corps?”




  • Ronan the Accuser, with the Power Stone, defeated Thanos, revealing an alternative outcome in the What If…? season 2.
  • This variant of Ronan becomes a powerful threat, forcing the Nova Corps to enclose Xandar in a shield.
  • The trend of villains defeating Thanos continues in the What If…? multiverse, with Ultron killing Thanos using only the Mind Stone in season 1, episode 8.

Until his death in Avengers: Endgame, Thanos was depicted as the ultimate, unstoppable villain, especially once he secured all six Infinity Stones, but What If…? season 2 has revealed yet another way the Mad Titan could have been defeated by just one Stone. Long before Thanos used the power of all six Infinity Stones to snap away half the universe, he was feared across the galaxy, known for enacting terrible genocides at countless planets, all in the name of “restoring balance.” Other villains who recognized how insanely powerful Thanos was offered him their loyalty with the hopes of his victory would help them fulfill their own nefarious pursuits.

In the MCU’s main timeline, Thanos was shown to be too powerful for the Avengers to defeat without the power of all six Infinity Stones, allowing him to succeed in his plan to snap away half of all life in the universe. Multiple heroes battled the Mad Titan at once while having some of the Stones in their possession and still failed to defeat him. It was only after Thanos was weakened by his own use of the Stones that Thor was able to kill him. What If…? season 2 has revealed that this seemingly unstoppable villain was actually defeated by a surprising betrayer with the power of one Stone.


What If…? Season 2: Stories, Variants & Everything We Know

Here’s everything Marvel has revealed about What If…? season 2, which was confirmed even before the season 1 premiere of the animated show.

What If Season 2 Reveals Ronan With The Power Stone Could Have Beaten Thanos

Ronan the Accuser stands overe Thanos' crown after betraying him

In the first episode of What If…? season 2, Ronan the Accuser uses the Power Stone to betray Thanos. Ronan was a Kree radical who worked under Thanos and hungrily sought his own power, and Thanos tasked him with securing the Power Stone. In the main MCU timeline, Ronan’s insatiable desire for power and revenge led him to try to acquire the Stone for his personal gain. Ronan does imbue the stone into his hammer but never directly confronts Thanos. While this does delay Thanos’ plans, Thanos ultimately emerges successful, making Ronan a pretty lackluster villain.

In What If…? season 2, however, not only is Ronan able to secure the Power Stone, he uses it to kill Thanos and stop his quest completely. In this reality, Ronan becomes such a powerful threat that he forces the Nova Corps to enclose its planet Xandar in an impenetrable shield to escape his advances. This variant of Ronan makes him seem more threatening in hindsight, as it suggests that, had the Guardians not intervened and killed Ronan, he could have been the first character to succeed in killing Thanos, with just one Stone no less.

What If Season 2 Continues A Strange Thanos Trend

Ultron in What If and Thanos in Infinity War

While Ronan’s defeat of Thanos was surprising, he actually continues an interesting What If…? trend of villains who were defeated in the MCU’s main timeline succeeding and killing Thanos in the What If…? multiverse. Season 1, episode 8 asks, “What If… Ultron Won?” and in that reality, Ultron uses only the power of the Mind Stone to slice Thanos in half as soon as he arrives on Earth. The ease with which Ultron kills Thanos was jarring when it first premiered, as Thanos still had a reputation of being near impossible to kill, but What If…? season 2 has revealed how even the most unlikely characters could have stopped him.

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