Today’s episode of Marvel’s What If…? features a cast list full of some of the biggest names in the MCU, including Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, and Michael Douglas.
However, several major characters were recast for the animated series, starting with episode 3. Robert Downey Jr. didn’t return as Iron Man, for Tony Stark’s brief cameo, while Scarlett Johansson is replaced as Black Widow.
In Johansson’s place is Lake Bell, who pulls off an almost uncanny impression of the Avengers: Endgame actress in the episode. This is Bell’s first time voicing Natasha, but it’s her third role in the superhero multiverse. She previously voiced Vanessa Fisk, Kingpin’s late wife, in Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and, most notably, Bell plays Pamela Isley AKA Poison Ivy in HBO Max’s Harley Quinn animated series. So Bell is pretty much cornering the market in voicing redheaded fan favorites in Marvel/DC projects at this point.
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Bell had a leading role as Agent Romanoff in episode 3, which is titled “What If… Earth Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?” It imagined a timeline where four out of the five founding Avengers were murdered over the course of one week by a mysterious assassin. Following Tony, Thor, and Hulk, Black Widow was the last to be killed. Nick Fury then discovered the culprit was a vengeful Hank Pym, who blamed Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. for the death of his daughter, Hope.
Though the vocal tracks for What If…? were obviously recorded long ago, it’s interesting that this Black Widow recasting comes at a time when Disney and Scarlett Johansson’s working relationship appears to be in tatters following the actress launching a lawsuit against the company. In other words, there’s a good chance Lake Bell will continue voicing Natasha in all her animated MCU appearances from now on.
Marvel’s What If…? continues next week on Disney Plus.