Over the last decade or so, comics, comic book films, horror or fantasy films, sci-fi, and fandom in general have grown from being a niche interest of those called 'Geeks', to being much more popular, accepted, and mainstream. This can most likely be attributed to the success of franchises like the MCU, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, and The Walking Dead.
As such films and shows become more mainstream, they have also become more desirable projects for actors to involve themselves in, and it is now increasingly common for actors to crossover from one franchise to another.
Here's six stars of The Walking Dead who have also made appearances in the MCU.
1. Danai Gurira
Actress Danai Gurira joined The Walking Dead as the mysterious katana-wielding Michonne at the beginning of the show's third season, and quickly became a fan favourite. Gurira's obvious chemistry with co-star Andrew Lincoln, who played series lead Rick Grimes, prompted The Walking Dead's producers to deviate from the comic book source material, opting to pair Rick with Michonne rather than Andrea.
Gurira left her role as a series regular during the first half of Season 10, when Michonne embarks on a search for Rick after discovering he is alive. The actress appeared briefly in The Walking Dead's finale, as a teaser to an upcoming spin off in which she will reprised her role as Michonne alongside Lincoln as Rick.
In 2o18, Gurira joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as General Okoye, leader of the all-female warriors the Dora Milaje, in Black Panther. Following Black Panther's success, Okoye has appeared in three more films, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Gurira is expected to star as Okoye again in an upcoming series for Disney Plus, likely following her in her new role as one of the operators of the Midnight Angel armor.
2. Ross Marquand
Ross Marquand joined the cast of The Walking Dead in Season 5, playing the role of Aaron. Aaron's arrival signalled a new phase of the show, as he guides the group away from a a life of struggle on the road into the inviting walls of the Alexandria Safe-Zone. Over time, Aaron grows into one of the show's most capable survivors, and one of the only original Alexandrians still living when the series came to an end.
Ross Marquand is a talented impressionist, a skill he often showed off when appearing as a guest on The Walking Dead's after-show, Talking Dead. So, when original Red Skull actor Hugo Weaving opted not to return in Avengers: Infinity War, Marquand was approached to replace him in the role. Marquand played Red Skull a second time in Avengers: Endgame.
The actor also provided the voice for Infinity Ultron in the final two episodes of What If..? Season 1, and voiced the alternate universe Ultron bots in Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness.
3. Cailey Fleming
The time-jump in the first half of The Walking Dead's ninth season necessitated a recast for some of the child characters in the series. Young actress Cailey Fleming was cast as an older Judith Grimes. Judith, the first baby known to have been born after the apocalypse, was initially just a plot device driving our heroes to find a safe place to call home, but her post-time jump age-up brings her into the centre of the action as a fully fledged character.
While other children of The Walking Dead universe have sometimes been perceived as annoying Judith quickly became a new fan favourite, largely credited to Cailey Fleming's adorable looks, engaging performance, and chemistry with the rest of the cast. Fans were delighted when Judith survived a gunshot wound in the series finale, leaving the door ajar for Fleming to potentially reprise her role in future spin-offs.
Fleming has a brief but memorable guest role in the MCU series Loki. She appears in the series' fourth episode as a younger Sylvie, the female Loki variant, in a flashback detailing how Sylvie was captured by, and then escaped from, the TVA.
4. Lauren Ridloff
Following the Season 9 time-jump, Lauren Ridloff joined The Walking Dead as Connie, a member of a new group of survivors who are eventually welcomed by our heroes. Ridloff is Deaf, a trait shared by her character, and worked heavily with the show's producers in properly portraying Connie.
Rather than focusing solely on her weaknesses, Connie's deafness is referred to as a superpower, and often an advantage, as the group Connie travels with have become fluent in ASL, allowing them to communicate silently in the face of Walkers or other enemies. It also gave the show a unique means of building tension, by cutting the sound in scenes where Connie is alone to truly depict the world from a Deaf person's perspective. The hard work paid off, with the show earning praise from the Deaf community for the positive portrayal of Connie.
Halfway through Season 10, Connie goes missing in the aftermath of a cave collapse, and does not resurface until the following season. This storyline was to accommodate for Ridloff taking time away from The Walking Dead in order to film her role as speedster Makkari in Marvel's Eternals. In a twist from the comics, Makkari is portrayed as being Deaf, to render her immune to the sonic booms caused by her speed.
As with Connie, Marvel consulted Ridloff and other experts, including Ridloff's Husband Douglas, on using ASL and creating unique signs for the Eternals, as well as making Makkari a positive role-model for Deaf children. Makkari was the breakout character of Eternals, lauded as one of the best depictions of a speed-powered hero ever seen onscreen, and credited with a rise in people seeking to learn ASL.
5. Matt Lintz
With the Season 9 time-jump taking the character of Henry from a child to a Teenager, actor Matt Lintz took over the role from his younger brother, Macsen. Matt was the third Lintz sibling to appear on The Walking Dead, as his sister, Madison, played Sophia Peletier in the first two seasons, before Macsen later appeared as the original Henry.
Lintz, as Henry, filled the void left by the absence of Carl Grimes, who did not die in the comics. He inherited many storylines that would have belonged to Carl, including moving to Hilltop to become a blacksmith, and his romance with former Whisperer Lydia. However, in what was seen as one of The Walking Dead's biggest twists at the time, Henry was killed off, his head placed on a Spike by Lydia's evil Mother, Alpha.
In 2022, Lintz made his MCU debut as Bruno Corelli, the best friend and confidant of leading lady Kamala Khan in Ms. Marvel. Bruno was an important character in the series, helping Kamala to train, perfect, and research her new powers.
6. Michael James Shaw
Michael James Shaw joined the cast of The Walking Dead during it's final season, playing Commander Michael Mercer, leader of the Commonwealth Troopers. Though his time on the show is relatively short, Mercer makes an impact, both through his surprisingly sweet romance with Juanita 'Princess' Sanchez, and his role as pretty much the only non-corrupt authority figure in the Commonwealth. In the end, Mercer sides with our heroes against the corrupt Governor Pamela Milton, in the name of making the Commonwealth a better place.
Before joining The Walking Dead cast, Shaw had a small but pivotal supporting role in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, the closing chapters of the MCU's Infinity Saga. The actor performed both the voice and motion capture work for Corvus Glaive, one of the Children of Thanos. The character is notable for having seriously injured Vision early in Infinity War, leaving him weakened for the rest of the film.
Now that the main series is over, it is possible that we may see more The Walking Dead cast members make the switch to the world of Superheroes.