The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been going strong for over a decade now and in that time not every person brought on has been able to stand the test of time.
Whether it was because of scheduling conflicts, pay disputes, or just the fact that Kevin Feige would like to forget that certain Marvel movies ever happened – there have been many actors who had to be swapped out over the last thirteen years. And some of them may even shock you.
Marvel’s Phase 4 may be shining the spotlight on some underserved characters and the new original series streaming on Disney+ has been one hit after another. And they are adding new characters at an unprecedented rate, including members of both the Dark Avengers and the Young Avengers.
Following the successes of WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki, the first animated series from Marvel Studios have been ambitious as Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019) with so many of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes returning to voice characters in Marvel’s What If…?
Tony Stark/Iron Man
It is no secret that Robert Downey Jr. is done with Tony Stark AKA Iron Man. He has said multiple times that he has done “all I could” with the Avenger. Robert Downey Jr. was the biggest risk that Marvel Studios took when trying to get the fledgling MCU off the ground back in Iron Man (2008).
He went onto propel the Marvel Universe to the massive success it came to be in Iron Man 2 (2010), The Avengers (2012), Iron Man 3 (2013), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Captain America: Civil War (2016), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and Avengers: Endgame (2019).
His presence has been felt even in the movies he is not in like Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) and even the latest Marvel movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) which has Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) facing off against a villain set up back in Iron Man 2.
But now we have a new Iron Man in What If…?. Mick Wingert (The Princess and the Frog, Kung Fu Panda 3) is taking up the mantle of the armored Avenger on the Disney+ original series. While it’s mostly like because the series simply did not have the budget for Downey – he did also recently unfollow all of his Marvel co-stars.
Steve Rogers/Captain America
In the first episode of What If…? fans heard the voice of the new Steve Rogers, one who never became Captain America. Instead, Josh Keaton (Voltron: Legendary Defender) voiced Steve in “What If… Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?” joined by Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) co-star Hayley Atwell reprised her role as Agent Carter.
Chris Evans also departed the MCU after his appearances in Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and Avengers: Endgame (2019).
Chris Evans even has the most appearances in Marvel movies with cameos in Thor: The Dark World (2013), Ant-Man (2015), Captain Marvel (2018), and Spider-Man: Homecoming. Luckily, Marvel fans have been more welcoming to Josh Keaton than to Wyatt Russell for playing another version of Captain America/ John Walker in The Falcon in the Winter Soldier.
Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
The divorce between Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff/ Black Widow) and Disney has been rocky. Following the controversial day-and-date release of Black Widow (2021), Scarlett Johansson has sued Disney and alleged that the back and forth litigation is full of accusations of misogyny and callousness considering the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, What If…? was recorded long before the drama between the Black Widow actress and Disney. So, Lake Bell (In A World) has stepped up into the role of the Avenger’s Russian spy. While Natasha Romanoff died in Endgame, fans had hoped to see her again in the new Marvel Cinematic Multiverse.
But if Natasha comes back it will most like be without Scarlett Johansson in the role. She debuted in Iron Man 2 and helped to save the world in The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame.
Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch
Elizabeth Olsen is coming off the massive success of Marvel Studios’ first series for Disney+, WandaVision and she is confirmed to return in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (March 25, 2021) alongside Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). However, she was left out of the cast list for What If…? and there does not appear to be a clear reason.
We know that filming for the Doctor Strange (2016) sequel did not prevent Benedict Cumberbatch from showing up in the new series. It has not been confirmed at this time who will be voicing Scarlet Witch, but trailers have revealed she will appear in the Marvel Zombie episode.
Wanda Maximoff has changed a lot since her debut in Avengers: Age of Ultron and appearance in Captain America: Civil War. Her tragic losses in Infinity War and Endgame pushed her to the brink in her series WandaVision as she dealt with the loss of Vision (Paul Bettany).
Marvel’s web-slinger is gearing up for his next Marvel movie – Spider-Man: No Way Home (December 17, 2021). The complicated contracts between Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios could make this Tom Holland’s last appearance as Peter Parker. He is rumored to be joined by fellow Spider-Man actors Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield.
Many fans hope they still will get more from Tom Holland as Peter Parker after his debut in Civil War and two solo films Homecoming and Far From Home. There are still many more Spider-Man stories to tell beyond the Spider-Verse. Marvel Studios revealed the new voice of Peter Parker as Hudson Thames (Mad Men) in the Marvel Zombies episode.
The “What If…Zombies?” episode also featured another hint that Spider-Man is on the way for a magical upgrade when he dons Doctor Strange’s cloak of levitation Hope Van Dyne AKA the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) remarks he will “grow into it.”
Drax the Destroyer
Dave Bautista has his own issues with his role of Drax in the Guardians of the Galaxy series. He has said Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (May 5, 2023) will be his last appearance. He hates the extensive time he has to spend getting in and out of make-up and his request for Drax to wear a shirt was shot down.
He also rocked the boat when director James Gunn was let go from Marvel, though he has since been reinstated. Dave Bautista shocked fans when he said he was never asked to return for What If…? but Marvel Studios has claimed that they did reach out but never received a response.
Captain Marvel showed up at the end of the latest episode of What If…? – “What if…The World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes”. She was voiced by Alexandra Daniels (Salem) and not by Brie Larson. Though who is replacing her remains a mystery. Brie Larson is definitely a divisive actress in the Marvel fanbase and some have speculated she may be joining the Star Wars Universe as Mara Jade Skywalker.
Brie Larson is currently filming the Captain Marvel (2018) sequel The Marvels (November 11, 2022). It will take place after her time in Endgame and Captain Marvel will be joined by WandaVision star Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau and newcomer Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan AKA Ms. Marvel.
Zoe Saldana’s Gamora may have been killed by her father Thanos (Josh Brolin) back in Infinity War, while she and the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy tried to stop him from collecting the Infinity Stones. However, in typical comic book tropes, she returned to the MCU during the battle at the end of Endgame.
Cynthia McWilliams debuted as the new voice of Gamora in the final episode of Marvel’s What If…? called “What If…The Watcher Broke His Oath?”. The episode introduced a version of Gamora that slayed Thanos and it felt like there was definitely an episode cut from the series that would explain her backstory before she joined the Guardians of the Multiverse.
The search for Gamora in the films will continue in Thor: Love and Thunder (May 6, 2022). And Zoe Saldana is expected to return in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special and I Am Groot.
The second episode of What If…? called “What If…T’challa Became Star-Lord” firmly established that Peter Quill was never a good Star-Lord. And while Marvel fans cried over the performance from the late Chadwick Boseman many missed that the Peter Quill seen working in the Dairy Queen was not voiced by Chris Pratt. Instead, Brian T. Delaney (Total Recall) took over the role of the half-celestial son of Ego (Kurt Russell).
Peter Quill will appear in another alternate reality that has the Guardians of the Galaxy come to Earth as Avengers or the Guardians of the Multiverse. Chris Pratt has played Quill in Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Infinity War, and Endgame. He is returning in Thor 3, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special and I Am Groot.
Princess Shuri actress Letitia Wright is currently filming the Black Panther (2018) sequel Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (July 8, 2022). Marvel fans are waiting to see if she will take up the mantle of Black Panther from her older brother T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman). Since Chadwick Boseman’s tragic death the movie had to move on without him.
Shuri showed up in Episode 6 of What If…? titled “What If…Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?” voiced by Ozioma Akagha. Ozioma is actually already a Marvel alumnus as she played Tamar on Hulu’s Runaways series back in 2018. But she is most known for playing Harper Omereoha on Delilah and voicing Bumblebee on Teen Titans Go!
Gwyneth Paltrow has been in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since the very beginning. She has been Tony Stark’s love interest Pepper Potts since Iron Man (2008). She has appeared alongside Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, The Avengers, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Avengers: Infinity War. Pepper finally became a hero in her own right in Endgame when she donned the Rescue armor.
Pepper Potts was voiced by Beth Hoyt in “What If…Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?”. Beth Hoyt has appeared in Better Call Saul, Dead to Me, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Obadiah Stane AKA Iron Monger
Tony Stark’s traitorous COO Obadiah Stane was played by Jeff Bridges in Iron Man. Obadiah hired the Ten Rings to assassinate Tony but eventually die trying to create the Iron Monger armor based on the remains of the Mark 1 Iron Man armor that Tony used to escape.
Jeff Bridges has been battling cancer since 2019 and caught COVID-19 while in chemotherapy. Kiff VandenHeuvel took over the voice of Obadiah in “What If…Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?”. Kiff VandenHeuvel has appeared in Parks and Recreation, La La Land (2016), and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016).
Michael James Shaw was the only member of the Black Order who did not return for What If…?. Corvus Glaive appeared alongside Proxima Midnight (Carrie Coon), Ebony Maw (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor), and Cull Obsidian (Terry Notary) in the second episode of What If…?.
After T’challa convinced Thanos to change his ways, the Black Order went to work for Taneleer Tivan/The Collector (Benicio del Toro). Most likely it is due to a scheduling conflict as Michael James Shaw was working on The Walking Dead while the animated series was in production. He was replaced by Fred Tatasciore (Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur).
The Avengers first took on the evil AI Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) and he was voiced by James Spader. Age of Ultron is considered one of the worse Marvel movies and comic book fans panned it as a poor adaptation of the Marvel Comics series of the same name.
Luckily, Marvel Studios took a second pass at the story in Episode 8 of What If…? called “What If…Ultron Won?”. It puts the villainous robot in the body that became Vision’s (Paul Bettany) in Age of Ultron and gives him all six Infinity Stones.
James Spader does not reprise his role for the episode and instead, Ultron is voiced by Ross Marquand. Marquand also voiced Johann Schmidt AKA the Red Skull in Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019). He is also known for his roles in The Walking Dead, Mad Men, and Robot Chicken.
As more episodes drop more recasts may be revealed so check back here to see more updates.
Let us know in the comments which character you are most upset to see recast.