Marvel comes under fire as Disney Plus series seemingly scorns Drax actor

Guardians of the Galaxy 3 Drax
(Image credit: Marvel Studios/Disney)

Fans of Dave Bautista, who voices Drax in the Guardian of the Galaxy films, were left disappointed and somewhat confused after the actor revealed he was "never asked" to reprise his role in Marvel's What If...? anthology series, which is set to start streaming on Disney Plus from August 11.

After a fan tweeted "Why won't you be voicing Drax on #WhatIf?", he replied with a curt "Let's start with I was never asked."

What If...? is something of a celebration of the MCU, remixing past and new storylines to explore alternate realities for the biggest stars of the Marvel movies so far.

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It's understandable, then, that fans might be taken back by Bautista's absence – as are some of his colleagues, it seems, with director James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy, The Suicide Squad) even commenting his surprise at the revelation.

Fan responses to the tweet were decidedly mixed, with some decrying Marvel for "destroying" the good reputation of the MCU, while others expressed shock, or indifference, at the casting change. But how abnormal is this, and should fans really be that surprised?

Analysis: Confusing canon

The lack of continuity between live action stars and their voice actor equivalents may be jarring for some who are used to a specific actor's performance. Bautista has starred in a number of Marvel movies as Drax, and hearing another actor's voice behind the character can be a little confusing.

The important thing to note is that What If...? isn't a continuation of the MCU so far. It's a TV show about alternate realities and dimensions where variants of MCU characters exist, so you can argue that Marvel has a readymade excuse as to why certain actors haven't lent their talents to their animated counterparts. It's not quite the same thing as a whole new actor playing Peter Parker in the upcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home (possible multiverse story threads aside).

Bautista isn't the only notable star not to appear in the new Disney Plus series, either. 

We know that Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Brie Larson, Elizabeth Olson, Tom Holland and Chris Evans won't be reprising their roles as Iron Man, Black Widow, Captain Marvel, Wanda Maximoff, Spider-Man and Captain America. Having seen the first three episodes, we can verify that some of these actors aren't part of the cast (something Collider also noticed). These are arguably the MCU's biggest stars.

While Marvel isn't exactly short on cash, hiring lesser-known industry voices can drastically reduce the cost of an animated project – it's likely that hiring the likes of Bautista and Downey Jr. for the series would have ballooned the budget overnight.

Despite his less-than-enthused response, Bautista has also been pretty vocal about his intention to stop playing the character post-Guardians of the Galaxy 3. He's previously told JoBlo that there's "not a chance in hell" he'd "do a TV series playing Drax" – though largely due to having to don the make-up to play the character, which naturally wouldn't be an issue for an animated series.

He also previously told IGN that "as far as my obligations, I've got Guardians 3, and that's probably going to be the end of Drax."

Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.