2022’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was an odd movie in many respects, most of them regarding the way it treated Wanda Maximoff and her character post-WandaVision. A separate part of the film that rankled audiences as its second act digression to an alternate universe home to the Illuminati, which featured some surprise return cameos for Marvel alums like Patrick Stewart’s Professor X and Haley Atwell’s Peggy Carter. The latter was that world’s Captain Britain—a variant first introduced in Marvel’s What If…? just a year prior—but before audiences could really wrap their heads around that, Peggy and most of the Illuminati proceeded to get wiped out by Wanda.
It’s a surprisingly grim and mean-spirited bit of fanservice, and if you weren’t a fan of that detour, then Atwell shares your sentiment. While doing promo for Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning, she admitted on the Happy Sad Confused podcast that it was a “frustrating moment” to get called in to get Darth Maul’d by her own weapon. “I’m like, ‘That wasn’t my choice!’” she said. “When she was like, ‘I could do this all day,’ and then followed by she’s immediately cut in half by a frisbee. And the audience being like, ‘She can’t do it all day. Apparently, you can’t, so egg on your face.’ That doesn’t really serve Peggy very well.”
Unsurprisingly, she considers What If….? the more rewarding return, which is hard to argue against. Not only did she get an episode to herself (one which opened the whole series, no less), the animated Captain Britain got to have an actual arc that’s set to continue in the eventual second season. “Any actor will tell you,” she continued, “to be able to go into a booth in effectively your pajamas and do an animation is great fun because you’re focused on the voice as the instrument and your main performative tool.”
The reaction to the Illuminati murders—which also includes Lashawna Lynch and Anson Mount reprising their roles as Maria Rambeau (Captain Marvel) and Black Bolt—goes to show how not all veteran MCU actors are brought back equally. As the studio has started having older actors reprise their roles in shows like She-Hulk and Secret Invasion, the way they’re utilized after being offscreen for so long takes on a different significance than if they’d been popping in and out more consistently. And for a property that tends to do several characters dirty with each new appearance, it’s easy to see how that scene was so divisive.
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