[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Marvel’s What If…?, Season 1, Episode 5, “What If… Zombies?”]
One of the most impressive things about Marvel’s What If…? is how it’s been able to bring in an impressive amount of the original MCU ensemble to reprise their previous on-screen roles for the animated series. (Catch Leslie Bibb in last week’s episode as reporter Christine Lockhart? She was in the opening credits and everything!) However, one big exception has been for a number of Marvel’s mightiest heroes — and in Episode 5, “What If… Zombies?”, the voice of Peter Parker was not supplied by his film counterpart.
So instead, congratulations are due to Hudson Thames, who joined the fraternity of actors including Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, Chris Pine, Jake Johnson, and Tom Holland to play Spider-Man in some form on screen. Thames does an impressive job of capturing the youth and positive energy that Holland has brought to the role since his MCU debut in Captain America: Civil War, especially given that his past work actually doesn’t include too much voice acting.
Instead, the relatively young actor has made a number of TV appearances, including the tragically canceled Reba McEntire sitcom Malibu Country, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, and Greetings From Home. He might be most memorable from the first season of I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson, or as Mitchell Rosen, the teenage son of Don Draper’s upstairs neighbor/booty call Sylvia (Linda Cardellini, another MCU veteran) in Mad Men.
For those who have been watching What If…?, it’s not a huge surprise that Holland didn’t return to voice the character. The primary (official) reason that that actors like Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., and Scarlett Johansson haven’t returned to play Captain America, Iron Man, and Black Widow in these alternate universes has to do with their contracts not extending to cover the show. But not only is Holland’s upcoming appearance in Spider-Man: No Way Home his last contractual appearance in the MCU (for right now, at least), but Sony’s ownership of the Spider-Man character adds an extra level of complication to his appearances in Marvel properties that Sony isn’t also involved with.
In “What If… Zombies?”, Peter is one of the few surviving Avengers following a zombie outbreak caused by Janet van Dyne’s return from the quantum realm. (I’ve seen a lot of zombie movies and shows, but a zombie virus being born from a trip to the place between atoms is a new one — props to the show for that bit of originality!) Alongside the recently returned-to-Earth Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), Happy Hogan (Jon favreau), Scott Lang’s severed head (Paul Rudd), and Dr. Strange’s cape, Peter’s a key part of keeping hope alive even as things get increasingly bleak for the planet. He doesn’t keep the actual Hope alive, but that’s life during the zombie apocalypse for you.
New episodes of Marvel’s What If…? premiere Wednesdays on Disney+.
KEEP READING: Here’s the Full Voice Cast for ‘Marvel’s What If…?’ Episode 5
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