Creating one of the biggest movie franchises in cinematic history comes with some obvious upsides: the massive box office numbers, the obsessive fans, and a pop culture footprint to last the ages. But there are challenges too, like having to manage a gigantic roster of actors. What happens when you cast a nobody in a bit role early in their career, only for them to blow up and become the perfect fit for a larger role down the line? It’s not a hypothetical problem, but Phase 5 of the MCU found an answer.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, David Dastmalchian, who played hacker Kurt Goreshter in the first two Ant-Man movies, will return to Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. But he’s not Kurt anymore; The Suicide Squad actor will play a new character named Veb.
It’s a convenient position for Marvel. Dastmalchian’s turn as Polka-Dot Man for the DCU propelled him to stardom, but his minor role in Scott Lang’s old life isn’t exactly the vehicle he deserves. Thankfully, there’s a loophole in the MCU that allows Marvel to cast anyone as anyone: variants.
Loki introduced us to variants, alternate versions of the same character that vary by personality, appearance, and even species. Thanks to this handy plot device, Dastmalchian could play a wildly different variant of Kurt, or an unrelated character from another universe who just happens to look identical to the hacker.
Double-dipping on actors in different roles isn’t new for Marvel. Gemma Chan, who starred as Sersi in Eternals, got her start as Minn-Erva in Captain Marvel. Although she was a lot bluer in her first appearance, it’s hard to overlook the casting. Then, of course, there are the canonically dubious double-dippers like Chris Evans and Michael B. Jordan, who were both Human Torches in different non-canonical Fantastic Four movies, only to get big roles in the MCU.
With the “variant” excuse in its pocket, the MCU can get away with casting John Krasinski, thrilling a bunch of fans, then killing him minutes later. Characters who die can live on, and actors who leave can be replaced (or return if they change their minds). Variants allow a one-size-fits-all excuse for every stunt cast, re-cast, and double-cast. It’s almost remarkable that the franchise didn’t introduce the concept earlier.
The David Dastmalchian news confirms that Marvel will take full advantage of this excuse going forward. Sure, it may stretch your suspension of disbelief a tad, but it’s worth it to always see the best available approach to a character.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania hits theaters February 17, 2023.