After the successes of WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki, the next Marvel Cinematic Universe series on Disney+ will pick up the thread where Loki left off. More accurately, it'll pick up the threads, as Loki ended with the sacred timeline splintering into perhaps infinite directions and plunging phase four of the MCU directly into the multiverse.
That's where What If…? steps in. The animated anthology series consists of nine 30-minute episodes in its first season, each focusing on a particularly memorable moment from the MCU's last decade-plus, only unfolding differently this time somewhere out there in the multiverse. Tony Stark's infamous roadside bombing in the desert is thwarted by Black Panther villain Erik Killmonger. The famous 360-pan around the Avengers outside Grand Central Station is now the Guardians of the Galaxy. Agent Peggy Carter receives the supersoldier serum to become Captain Carter.
To tell these nine alternative tales, Marvel has gathered together performers from across its roster of movies to provide the voices of these alternate versions of their original characters. And while some characters — Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Peter Parker, Carol Danvers, Natasha Romanoff, Wanda Maximoff, and Ultron, among others — will be voiced by different performers than their iconic movie star personae, upwards of 50 original cast members will return. So who are they? And what, if anything, do we know about the nature of their "What If?" storylines? We grouped the returning cast members by the movies that introduced them.
The only cast member who's set to appear in every episode of What If…? is Jeffrey Wright. The Emmy Award-winning actor — who won for Angels in America in 2004 and received three nominations for his performance on Westworld — plays Uatu, an alien creature who was introduced in the comics opposite the Fantastic Four. Uatu is part of a race of Watchers, and his job is to dispassionately observe the multiverse. He'll narrate the series and comment on the events, but he's not expected to take an active role in their unfolding.
While Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow won't be lending their voices to Tony Stark and Pepper Potts, we will be getting Tony's most trusted allies in Rhodey and Happy Hogan. Leslie Bibb is also back as reporter Christine Everhart, who ended up in Tony's bed in the first Iron Man. In the trailer, we see Tony crossing paths with young Erik Stevens, who in our timeline would eventually become the lead villain in Black Pather.
Chris Hemsworth is one of a handful of original Avengers cast members to lend their voices to What If…?. He's rumored to be voicing a hypothetical version of Thor whose path diverged from learning humility in the first Thor movie and instead became some kind of party animal. This possibly will dovetail with earlier reports that series creator A.C. Bradley was interested in exploring offbeat genre inspirations like Can't Hardly Wait. In addition to Thor, his mischievous brother Loki will show up in some form, voiced by Tom Hiddleston, although it's unclear whether the version of Loki we see in the show will have any bearing on the Loki we saw in … well, Loki. Natalie Portman, after lending previous footage of herself to Avengers: Endgame and before returning to take on the mantle of Thor in Thor: Love and Thunder, will show up in What If…? to voice Thor's love interest Jane Foster.
Jaimie Alexander is back to voice Thor's trusted childhood friend, Lady Sif. Meanwhile, after first appearing in Thor: Ragnarok, get ready for return engagements from Jeff Goldblum as impish villain The Grandmaster; Taika Waititi as Thor's mild-mannered warrior buddy Korg, last seen chilling with Thor in New Asgard; Carnivale and Spongebob Squarepants star Clancy Brown (he voices Mr. Krabbs) voicing fire demon Surtur, who laid waste to Asgard in Ragnarok; and Hunt for the Wilderpeople star Rachel House, who was so incredible as the voice of Terry in Soul, will return to voice Topaz.
While Chris Evans will not be back to voice Steve Rogers in the animated series, the big news is that Hayley Atwell will return to voice Peggy Carter. Steve's longtime love interest and the star of the under-appreciated Agent Carter was one of the big hooks to the What If…? premise when it was announced that one of the show's stories would follow a path where it was Peggy, as a founding member of S.H.I.E.L.D., who was given the supersoldier serum that turned Steve Rogers all hunky and instead we got superpowered Captain Carter.
Other familiar characters from the cap films will include best pal and winter soldier Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), Peggy's grandniece Sharon Carter (Emily Vancamp), S.H.I.E.L.D. scientist Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci), and H.Y.D.R.A. mastermind Arnim Zola (Toby Jones).
Additionally, Frank Grillo will voice the soldier-turned-villain Brock "Crossbones" Rumlow, Neal McDonough will voice Howling Commando Dum Dum Dugan, Dominic Cooper will return to voice the young millionaire/inventor Howard Stark, and Bradley Whitford (The West Wing; The Handmaid's Tale) will reprise his Agent Carter role as John Flynn, Peggy's superior.
The headline news is that What If…? features a vocal performance by the late Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa, the Black Panther. In a storyline where he pairs with Guardians of the Galaxy's Yondu, T'Challa will be groomed to be Star-Lord instead of Peter Quill. As mentioned, Michael B. Jordan will be back to voice Killmonger as he gets involved in a multiverse tale with Tony Stark. Oscar nominee Angela Bassett is back as T'Challa's mother Ramonda, and John Kani will once again voice King T'Chaka. The Walking Dead's Danai Gurira is back as T'Challa's trusted ally Okoye, while Andy Serkis returns to voice villainous weapons dealer Ulysses Klaue.
The Stephen Strange episode of What If…? is reported to be a "dark, tragic love story," so it makes sense that Benedict Cumberbatch is back as Dr. Strange as well as Rachel McAdams as his love interest, Christine Palmer. Academy Award winner Tilda Swinton's The Ancient One is a malleable enough character that she could show up in just about any episode — see her scene opposite The Hulk in Avengers: Endgame. And we can all hope that the excellent Benedict Wong gets something fun to do as Dr. Strange's faithful ally, Wong.
With the exception of Michelle Pfeiffer's Janet Van Dyne, all the major principals of the Ant Man universe on onboard for What If…?, including star Paul Rudd, Oscar winner Michael Douglas, and Lost star Evangeline Lilly. Given how much of the Ant Man mythology involves the line of succession of the Ant Man and familial legacies, there are a lot of ways their multiverse journeys could go.
While characters like Gamora and Drax appear in What If…?, they're being voiced by different actors than Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista. In fact, Karen Gillan, who voices the complicated robot hero/villain Nebula, is the only one of the Guardians of the Galaxy to have signed up for the show. Still, Michael Rooker's Yondu gets an episode where he teams up with T'Challa, so that's fun. And a whole slew of Guardians side characters are set to appear, including Peter Quill's planet dad Ego, voiced by the great Kurt Russell, and antagonist Korath the Pursuer, voiced by Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou. Benicio del Toro's The Collector seems to have a finger in every pot, so he too could show up in just about any episode. One particularly fascinating wild card in this whole multiverse situation could be Howard the Duck. The Marvel character who was the subject of a notorious 1986 movie bomb has enjoyed cameos in both Guardians of the Galaxy movies (and is even visible for half a second in Endgame). He's one of the more chaotic nods to Marvel's history, so expect him to show up in some strange context or another.
Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye is the next one on deck to get a Disney+ series, so it's very possible that his appearance in What If…? will help tee that up. Josh Brolin bringing back Thanos after his spectacular demise in Endgame ought to be nothing less than fascinating (accompanied by Carrie Coon and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor as his acolytes). Appearances from Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury, Clark Gregg's Phil Coulson, and Cobie Smulders' Maria Hill suggest that S.H.I.E.L.D. will have something going on in an episode or two. And while Mark Ruffalo's more refined "Professor" Hulk from Endgame was originally pitched as a What If…? storyline, his actual
These characters could easily have probably been grouped elsewhere, but we want to give Wandavision its due. Last we saw Wanda Maximoff, she was perhaps reaching out into the multiverse to find the sons who were created out of thin air. Don't expect that thread to get picked up until one of the movies (probably Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness), but the Wanda character (while not voiced by Elizabeth Olsen) will show up in What If…? As will Vision, voiced by Paul Bettany. And while it's possible — even likely — that Kat Dennings' Darcy Lewis character will appear alongside Jane Foster as she was introduced in Thor, it'd be fun if she and Vision could have another adventure together.
"What If... ?" launches Wednesday August 11 on Disney+, with new episodes dropping Wednesdays through early October.
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Joe Reid is the Managing Editor at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.
TOPICS: What If...? (Marvel series), Disney+, Marvel's Agent Carter, Angela Bassett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Benedict Wong, Benicio del Toro, Bradley Whitford, Chadwick Boseman, Chris Hemsworth, Clancy Brown, Danai Gurira, Djimon Hounsou, Dominic Cooper, Don Cheadle, Emily VanCamp, Evangeline Lilly, Frank Grillo, Hayley Atwell, Jaimie Alexander, Jeff Goldblum, Jeffrey Wright, Jeremy Renner, Jon Favreau (actor/director), Josh Brolin, Karen Gillan, Kat Dennings, Kurt Russell, Leslie Bibb, Mark Ruffalo, Michael B. Jordan, Michael Douglas, Natalie Portman, Neal McDonough, Paul Bettany, Paul Rudd, Rachel House, Rachel McAdams, Samuel L. Jackson, Sebastian Stan, Seth Green, Stanley Tucci, Taika Waititi, Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Marvel Cinematic Universe