What If…? Episode 5 Cast Guide: Every New & Returning MCU Character

Following the pattern established by the rest of the series, What If...? episode 5 featured a host of new and returning MCU characters. In addition to a sprinkling of established MCU stars, the show also included some surprising substitutions. However, considering the sheer number of Marvel actors involved across the entire cinematic universe, the fact that the show got so many to reprise their roles is still slightly staggering.

Episode 5 imagined an alternate reality in which Janet van Dyne came back from the quantum realm – first established in Ant-Man and The Wasp – carrying a deadly zombie virus. As a result of this infection, the entire world – including Earth's mightiest heroes – became overrun by a zombie plague. The survivors, including the likes of Peter Parker, Okoye and Bruce Banner banded together in a bid to find a cure for the disease.

Related: Marvel Zombies Hints Thanos Was Right In Infinity War

Featuring a cast of many of the MCU's most iconic figures, What If...? episode 5 expanded the ensemble after the previous episode's relatively straightforward, Doctor Strange-centric plotline. As a result, the cast list is an impressive collection of MCU stalwarts past and present, as well as few new faces filling in for the main players. Here's everyone who appeared in What If...? episode 5.

An ever-present throughout the series, Jeffrey Wright's The Watcher serves as the show's omniscient narrator. Wright has featured in every episode of What If...? to date, although his role in this story is significantly diminished from his previous outing, in which he actually spoke directly with Doctor Strange. As for Wright, he is set to continue starring in superhero movies, appearing as Commissioner Gordon in The Batman.

Ruffalo has already featured in What If...?, reprising his role as Bruce Banner during episode 3. However, throughout episode 5, he is very much front and center of the action. This is not the first time that Ruffalo has returned to the character after his last live-action appearance in Avengers: Endgame – also appearing in Disney+'s She-Hulk and at least one other secret Marvel project.

After his appearance in What If...? episode 2 as Starlord, Chadwick Boseman once again returned to perhaps his most famous role in episode 5. The Black Panther star, who sadly passed away in August 2020, left behind an incredible body of work, with many examples released posthumously after his death. As well as What If...? Boseman recently appeared in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom in a role that won critical acclaim and several awards.

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Following his return to the character in the hit Disney+ series WandaVision, Paul Bettany is one of several actors to return to the MCU for the cartoon spin-off. Bettany himself has been a key part of the MCU from the beginning, voicing Iron Man's automated assistant J.A.R.V.I.S at the very start of Phase One. Bettany himself is set to appear in the second series of the hit BBC serial A Very British Scandal.

Like many of the returning What If...? characters, Sebastian Stan has already reprised his role as Bucky Barnes during an earlier episode in the series. In fact, What If...? is just one example of Stan returning to the role in recent months, having also played a key role in the spin-off series The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. In addition to his ongoing MCU commitments, Stan will soon star in the 2022 thriller The 355.

Despite playing a pivotal role in a previous What If...? episode, episode 5 is the first time that Evangeline Lilly's character is thrust center stage. Given the pivotal role that the new Ant-Man movie is set to play in Phase Four of the wider MCU, this is not the last time that audiences will get to see the character. Beyond the MCU, Lilly will also be appearing in crime-thriller flick South of Heaven.

Even though he appears to die in one of the episode's early scenes, Paul Rudd's Ant-Man actually plays a crucial role in the episode. Rudd has been a fixture of the MCU since 2015 and, like co-star Evangeline Lily, will appear in the upcoming release Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania. He is also set to appear in Ghostbusters: Afterlife opposite Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Finn Wolfhard.

Related: All 15 Marvel TV Shows Releasing After Shang-Chi (& When)

Although Jon Favreau is instantly recognizable as Happy Hogan, the actor and director is actually much more intrinsic to the wider MCU than just appearing on screen. As the director of both Iron Man and Iron Man 2, Favreau is responsible for setting the tone of what has become the most successful movie franchise of all time. In addition to his work with Marvel, Favreau is also the creator of The Mandalorian for Disney+ – the third season of which is set to drop in early 2022.

As one of the stand-outs from 2018's Black Panther, Danai Gurira has established herself as a fixture in the wider MCU. As well as her roles in the Infinity War saga, Gurira is also set to appear in the 2022 sequel Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The Zimbabwean-American star also recently signed an exclusive deal with ABC Studios, slightly limiting her potential future TV projects.

The second Carter to play a prominent role in the recent series, Emily VanCamp's character suffers an unfortunate fate during the episode. Like Stan, VanCamp recently returned to play the former CIA and SHIELD agent for the Falcon and The Winter Soldier series on Disney+. VanCamp was not as prominent in the wider MCU as some other characters, only appearing in the two previous Captain America movies. Her presence here suggests she may yet return to the saga.

Similarly to Sharon Carter, David Dastmalchian's Kurt was a relatively peripheral character during the Ant-Man movies – yet in What If...? he is prominent throughout. However, despite being a supporting character in the MCU, Dastmalchian himself is no stranger to comic book content. He has previously appeared in movies like The Dark Knight and, more recently, The Suicide Squad, highlighting his pedigree.

Related: The MCU Makes Rachel McAdams' Doctor Strange Snub Even Worse

One of the few actors to replace a genuine MCU heavyweight, Hudson Thames steps in during What If...? to fill the shoes of the absent Tom Holland. However, just because he is a Marvel newcomer doesn't mean Thames doesn't have experience elsewhere. Before appearing as Peter Parker, Thames made his name in a string of minor movie roles, including Far More and The A-List. He also has previous voiceover experience, appearing in 2010 hit Marmaduke.

Despite only appearing for a few seconds, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor's Ebony Maw is essential in establishing the power of the zombie Avengers. The actor is already familiar with the character, having both voiced and provided motion-capture for the role during the final two Avengers movies. In addition to the MCU, the Irish actor has extensive TV and movie experience, recently starring in the hit show Frank of Ireland.

Experienced voice-actor Josh Keaton has already played Steve Rogers in the current series, replacing star Chris Evans for the first episode of the show. However, despite taking over from one of Marvel's most instantly recognizable actors, Keaton is no stranger to taking on big comic book roles. Previously, the performer has voiced the likes of Peter Parker in Spectacular Spider-Man and Norman Osbourne in the recent Spider-Man series. With these credentials, it's no wonder he felt capable of playing Captain America in What If...? episode 5.

More: The MCU's New Captain America Timeline Plot Hole Explained

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