Marvel's What If…?: Here's Why Some Characters Look Like Their Actors And Why Some Don't – ComicBook.com

By Adam Barnhardt – September 3, 2021 04:20 pm EDT
As fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have come to see through four episodes of What If…?, sometimes the show’s animated characters look like their live-action counterparts while other times, they look like completely new characters. Furthermore, some live-action actors didn’t return to voice their characters in the latest Marvel Studios show, even though their characters still look like them.
Take Black Widow and Steve Rogers, as two examples. Black Widow is voiced by Lake Bell in the third episode of the show and looks nothing like Bell or long-time MCU star Scarlett Johansson. Rogers is also voiced by someone new — Spider-Man voice actor Josh Keaton — in the show’s first episode. Even then, ol’ Rogers still bears a resemblance to Captain America star Chris Evans.
As you might expect, it all comes down to likeness laws and legality. What If…? production designer Paul Lasaine tells ComicBook.com the show tried keeping the animated characters looking like their live-action counterparts until Disney’s legal team would step in.
“I can lie and tell you that stuff is on purpose, or I can tell you the truth and tell you that usually those things are legal issues,” Lasaine tells us.
He adds, “There are characters who we are allowed to take their likenesses, because it’s not just a character’s likeness. It’s an actor, it’s a human being’s likeness, and there are legalities. I don’t even know how far up chain that goes, but there are definitely some characters we were told, ‘Nah, you can’t have their likeness. You got to back off a little bit.’ Some, we were told, ‘You need to make them look more like it.'”
Lasaine then went on to applaud What If…? character designer Ryan Meindering’s work on the series.
“I mean, we could make them look exactly like these characters if we wanted to,” Lasaine concludes. “I mean, Ryan Meinerding is our character designer. He designed most of the MCU characters to begin with anyway. So there’s not one person on the planet that would be able to hit these likenesses better than that guy. And if anything doesn’t look like them, it’s because he was told not to. And that is usually the reason, is because we’re just not allowed to.”
The first four episodes of Marvel’s What If…? are now streaming on Disney+.
What What If… storylines do you hope to see in the series? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section or by hitting our writer @AdamBarnhardt up on Twitter to chat all things MCU!
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