Dozens of MCU stars took their live-action roles to the animated side of the franchise in both seasons of What If...?, which showed alternate-timeline versions of major events first highlighted in the Infinity Saga.
But outside of brand-new character Kahhori being introduced to the MCU through this series, What If...? hasn't yet ventured out into some of Marvel's biggest superheroes that are confirmed for introduction at a later date.
4 Superheroes Not Usable for Marvel's What If...?
What If...? executive producers A.C. Bradley and Bryan Andrews joined the Phase Zero Podcast, explaining why certain Marvel heroes couldn't be used in the show's first two seasons.
Although Season 1 and Season 2 featured dozens of Infinity Saga heroes, when asked about characters that haven't been introduced to the MCU yet, Andrews and Bradley confirmed the following superheroes (and hero teams) were "pretty much off the table" since Marvel reportedly wanted these heroes to be done "first in live-action" before moving into animation:
Sam Wilson's Captain America
Bradley noted that Season 2 of What If...? was being written while The Falcon and the Winter Soldier "was shooting, paused shooting, the scripts were being re-written," and the team then wasn't allowed to touch the character:
"It’s also why we couldn’t do Sam Wilson’s Captain America, because we didn’t know when that would be coming out. We were writing Season 2, 'Falcon and the Winter Soldier' was shooting, paused shooting, the scripts were being re-written, because of other things, and we were like, 'Well, we don’t know when anything's airing, so we couldn’t touch it, because we’re not allowed to…' It makes sense. Let the character live in live-action first and then come play in the Multiverse."
Mackie is set to reprise his role as Captain America in 2025's Captain America: Brave New World. Still, with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier now on Disney+, the character could appear in What If...? Season 3.
While Gabriel Luna portrayed the Robbie Reyes version of Ghost Rider in Season 4 of Marvel's Agents of SHIELD, the character has yet to appear in a Marvel-Studios-produced project either in theaters or on Disney+.
The closest the character has come to a Marvel Studios appearance was a quick reference in Episode 3 of 2022's She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, but there is no mention of Johnny Blaze, Robbie Reyes, or any other take on Ghost Rider.
There are no official plans to bring Ghost Rider into the MCU. However, prior rumors revealed scenes featuring the character were filmed for Doctor Strange 2 before being axed.
The only sign of the Fantastic Four in the MCU was John Krasinski's Multiversal appearance as Reed Richards in 2022's Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, although it only lasted on-screen for about 10 minutes.
Outside of that appearance, there have been no indications of when the Fantastic Four will debut in the MCU. And since Krasinski's appearance came during the writing of What If...? Season 2, they likely won't come into animation until after their first movie.
Fans are still waiting for the X-Men to make their official MCU debut, which will officially happen in 2024 with both July's Deadpool 3 and the upcoming X-Men '97, although the latter doesn't have a release date yet.
Considering the MCU hasn't introduced the X-Men into live-action outside of Patrick Stewart's return as Professor Charles Xavier in Doctor Strange 2, it's no surprise the mutants haven't arrived in What If...? just yet.
Although X-Men '97 and What If...? are sure to overlap in future seasons, it's most likely the mutants won't make their way into What If...? until at least after Deadpool 3 releases, if not later.
Phase Zero's full conversation about these omitted characters can be seen below:
Phase Zero: "Are you guys allowed to use characters which aren’t introduced in the MCU yet, but became part of Marvel rights, like Fantastic Four, X-Men, and Ghost Rider? [It was] just shortly before you were writing Season 2 that those character rights came back to Disney, so were those off the table characters or is it you just wanted to do stories with characters we already knew?"
Andrews: "They’re pretty much off the table."
Bradley: "We were given The Watcher."
Andrews: "Yeah, they were like, 'No… we gotta do it first in live-action and then you get to do it.' And we were like, 'Aw man.' 'Cause we would’ve loved to play with all kinds of toys, but there’s limitations."
Bradley: “It’s also why we couldn’t do Sam Wilson’s Captain America, because we didn’t know when that would be coming out. We were writing Season 2, Falcon and the Winter Soldier was shooting, paused shooting, the scripts were being re-written, because of other things, and we were like, ’Well, we don’t know when anything’s airing, so we couldn’t touch it, because we’re not allowed to… It makes sense. Let the character live in live-action first and then come play in the Multiverse.”
Seasons 1 and 2 of Marvel Studios' What If...? are streaming now on Disney+.