Marvel's What If...? will serve as the blockbuster studio's first venture into animation with much of its star-studded live-action cast tagging along for the ride.
Each episode of the animated anthology will explore a different timeline as it tackles alternate takes on different MCU films and characters.
With the series premiere quickly approaching, What If...?'s head writer has praised one particular Marvel star for going all out on his voice role.
WHAT IF...? WRITER PRAISES PAUL RUDD
Entertainment Weekly recently sat down with What If...? head writer A.C. Bradley and director Bryan Andrews to discuss the Disney+ series, which led to some intriguing comments on taking the MCU's A-list cast into animation.
The Marvel writer explained that they were complimented to hear the voice cast describe the stories being told as “weird” and unlike anything that they “ever got to do in the movies.” Bradley gave one example of this saying that Bucky Barnes actor Sebastian Stan was incredibly surprised when his character was cracking jokes in the script because he “[doesn't] get to make jokes in the movies:”
“The biggest compliment we ever received is when they'd be like, 'This is weird. This is a weird story. This is not something I'd ever got to do in the movies. Sebastian Stan was like, 'I don't get to make jokes in the movies, are you sure this is for me?' He was surprised. We were like, 'Yeah, you get to make jokes. That's your what-if: You're funny.'”
Director Bryan Andrews went on to reveal that some actors had reservations about the concept at first, but by the end, they were “trying to play and bring some new stuff to the material.” Andrews shared his belief that this comes down to the “stigma of animation,” as many see the format as only being for the younger demographic:
“There were some [actors] that had that kind of reservation at first, but then by the end of it, they were digging it and riffing and trying to play and bring some new stuff to the material. It's funny, they all had a blast once they got through it, but some were definitely like, 'Why am I here?' But then it switched for them, and they're like, 'Oh, this is cool!' It's that stigma of animation that it's always just for this age range, but now that they know, 'Oh wait, you guys are like the movies, that's great. This is exciting.'”
While Bradley called Cobie Smulders and Samuel L. Jackson standout voice actors of the first season, she gave particular praise to Ant-Man actor Paul Rudd. The writer joked that he was only there for “like three hours,” but he still “almost won office employee of the month” even though “he doesn't even work [there]:”
“[Rudd] was in for like three hours, and he almost won office employee of the month. He came in second [place]. That's how much fun Paul Rudd had — he doesn't even work here.”
HOW ANT-MAN TIES INTO WHAT IF...?
So far, Paul Rudd's role as Scott Lang aka Ant-Man in What If...? remains a complete mystery. The only official look of the shrinking Avenger in animated form showcases his decapitated head in a jar exclaiming “Hey!” with glee next to Vision. As of now, it's impossible to determine which of the series' nine multiverse plots this could connect to.
The fact he was only in the recording studio for a few hours seems to suggest his role in the series will be minor and likely confined to one episode, but it seems as if Rudd made an impression on the crew.
Given the insane level of stardom that comes with the entire MCU cast, it isn't surprising to hear some A-list talent may have had reservations about taking on a voice-over role. After all, Marvel has been producing animated series for decades now, so what exactly makes this one so special?
Since this project is coming straight from Marvel Studios and will be canon to the wider MCU, What If...? is probably one of the most expensive animated ventures of all time. Not least because of the star-studded cast attached to every episode, even if there are a few stars notably absent.
Perhaps this stigma that surrounds animation is what turned some actors away from joining the series, leading to their characters being tackled by other voice actors. Even though some stars are absent this time around, perhaps if the series performs on par with Marvel's other Disney+ projects, the remaining cast may be more inclined to tag along for Season 2.
What If...? will premiere its first episode starring Hayley Atwell's Captain Carter on August 11, exclusively on Disney+.