Since its inception, the Marvel Cinematic Universe had fans eager to see what a truly interconnected world with multiple characters and stories might look like. The fact they may never know which characters and actors may pop up in each installment added to the excitement. But this wasn’t for just the big players of the universe. It was also about not-as-well-known side characters who can bounce around from movie to movie or show to show and even across the timeline or the universe as a whole. The MCU has a real history and no one embodies this more than Hayley Atwell‘s Peggy Carter.
When Peggy Carter first appeared in Captain America: The First Avenger, fans had no idea what type of career she would have in the MCU. After all, that story’s setting in World War II was outdated by the time the film ended and Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) found himself in modern times. But the character resonated with fans so much that Peggy returned for her own series, Agent Carter. Not only was this great for the growth of the character, it was also great for the growth of the MCU as it showed how S.H.I.E.L.D. was born. Then, Peggy made an unexpected appearance in the opening scenes of both Ant-Man and Avengers: Endgame. And just when fans thought she was done, Atwell took the character in a new direction by reprising her as Captain Carter in What If…? and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
This versatility — the ability for Atwell’s Carter to bounce around from film to film — in both the history of the MCU and the multiverse at large is everything that fans hoped the MCU would be. It shows Atwell’s willingness to take a leap into the universe’s mythology and embrace the crazy stories which seem to try and embody everything that the comics represent. She’s not the only one, of course. Many other Marvel Studios actors have made brief cameos to expand the universe, but none seem to have taken to it quite like Hayley Atwell.