This week begins a brand new chapter for Kevin Feige’s Marvel Cinematic Universe. After an almost subdued announcement when compared to its predecessor’s, Marvel’s next foray into small-screen entertainment has been quickly gaining steam.
One of the more interesting elements regarding What If…? is how most of the MCU’s actors from over the past decade were brought together for one project. If you thought Avengers: Endgame (2019) was big, then this new show promises to be next level. That being said, there are a few notable exemptions from an otherwise stellar cast list, and What If…?‘s director has answers.
Debuting on August 11, Marvel’s What If…? brings back the huge catalog of characters from its mammoth slate of movies over the years. The new Disney+ animated series follows in the footsteps of its Marvel Comics namesake and asks the simple question of “what if” a certain momentous event happened differently, or never even happened at all.
The What If…? trailer showed some of these new characters in unfamiliar situations. Whether it’s Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) becoming the new star-spangled hero, Captain Carter, instead of Steve Rogers’s Captain America, or the late Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa causing chaos, not as Black Panther, but alongside Yondu (Michael Rooker) as this show’s Star-Lord, What If…? promises to offer a detailed look at the Multiverse that Loki so delicately set up earlier this year.
If one thing is certain it’s that What If…? is set to be bigger than Marvel fans first thought. Nestled away between the three live-action MCU series (WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki) and the next big blockbusters of the Marvel Universe, this animated series could actually be the key to exploring the wider Multiverse, the Sacred Timeline, and the Variants that inhabit these new locations.
We already know that the Doctor Strange sequel, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) is set to tackle the more horrifying elements of the Multiverse but hiding in plain sight is What If…? and it could answer a lot of questions sooner rather than later. In fact, executive producer Brad Winderbaum recently spoke about how Loki perfectly aligned with What If…?‘s release, suggesting that the new animation is more like a spinoff to Tom Hiddleston’s series than a standalone Marvel venture.
With so many big names back in the superhero saddle for the alternate reality series, the cast list is missing a few big names. At first, Benedict Cumberbatch was among those not returning to play their animated counterparts, but last week saw the Doctor Strange actor confirmed in his role. Besides that, actors like Brie Larson (Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel), Dave Bautista (Drax the Destroyer), Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man), Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America), and Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow) are among those who were recast for the new Disney+ series.
Downey Jr.’s and Evans’s contracts are currently up with Marvel Studios and Johansson’s time in the MCU is seemingly up in the air, but what is surprising is the fact that characters like Captain Marvel and Drax are being recast despite their live-action actors still tied to upcoming MCU projects like The Marvels (2022) and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023). Well, What If…?‘s director has weighed in on the challenge of bringing everyone back for his new series.
Speaking to CBM, director Bryan Andrews discussed What If…?
“We got a certain amount of voices in before the pandemic, which was great, then there’s certain ones that maybe had to follow up later […] For some of the people, we got them in somewhat early, but it’s the schedules of everyone. It’s crazy, some people we don’t get till way later and some things are actually being animated and they’re like, “Hold off on those scenes,” because they don’t know the dialogue yet, they had to wait because it’s tough, people are busy.”
As with anyone that’s ever done a group project, it is easy to see how difficult it would have been to secure this massive portfolio of actors for one show, especially with most working multiple Marvel projects at any one time too.
Andrews then goes on to allude to the recasting of certain characters in their alternate universe.
“It was awesome getting them all back, or as many as we could, they’re busy, some maybe can’t, schedules didn’t align, but we got a lot back and I think they were all pretty happy and excited to be apart of it, to play the different versions of their character…”
So, while Andrews claims that most of the recasted characters were otherwise engaged, in a contrasting statement, Bautista actually said that he wasn’t even asked to return for the new animated series. In terms of Larson’s involvement, neither Marvel nor the Captain Marvel actress herself has commented on the situation — one theory suggests that she may be bringing Luke Skywalker’s wife to Star Wars.
What If…? will sure answer some on-screen questions surrounding the Multiverse and the Variant population of the MCU, but the situation regarding some of the behind-the-scenes acting Variants is still as mysterious as ever.
What If…? begins on August 11 with the show’s narrator, Jeffrey Wright’s Uatu, The Watcher, documenting a different Multiversal story in each episode.
Will you be watching What If…? Let us know in the comments below!