Our time with Chris Evans’ Captain America may very well be coming to an end. It seems like not too long ago Evans was mulling an offer to play the Marvel character in the still-very-young Marvel Studios lineup. Evans famously turned the part down a couple of times, partly because he had already done the superhero thing in Fantastic Four, and partly because the prospect of signing a then-unheard of nine-movie contract was kind of crazy—what if the movies sucked? In the end, Evans relented and starred in Captain America: The First Avenger, and he’s now cemented himself as one of the cornerstones of the Marvel Cinematic Universe—although that reign may be ending sooner than you think.
As part of a wide-ranging cover story in Esquire, Evans discusses his future with Marvel and seems to reveal that after his contract is fulfilled following Avengers: Infinity War and its untitled sequel, he’s hanging up the shield:
Settling in on the couch, he groans. Evans explains that he’s hurting all over because he just started his workout routine the day before to get in shape for the next two Captain America films. The movies will be shot back to back beginning in April. After that, no more red- white-and-blue costume for the thirty-five-year-old. He will have fulfilled his contract.
Evans didn’t sign a nine-film contract when he agreed to lead Captain America: The First Avenger, and instead negotiated it down to six films in total. With these two Avengers movies now shooting, that fulfills his contractual duties—he’s free to go (this actually makes seven Marvel movies for Evans in total, but these final two Avengers films may count as one since they’re shooting at the same time). Obviously Marvel may try to renegotiate and sign him up for more appearances in the MCU, but according to this Esquire profile he’s thinking he’s done.
Evans explains that the time consumption of the MCU prevents him from exploring as many other opportunities as he’d like, like directing and starring in very different kinds of films. After a five-month production process, month-plus promotional tour, reshoots, etc., the experience of banking just one Marvel movie eats up over a year of Evans’ time. And going at that rate since 2011 has got to be taxing.
So what happens if Evans is done? How does Marvel proceed? Well the “Captain America” mantle shifted a number of times in the comics, so it’s not like getting rid of Steve Rogers is unprecedented. We could see a rehabilitated Bucky (Sebastian Stan) take over for the MCU going forward, or maybe Anthony Mackie’s Falcon. Truth is, we have very little idea of what the MCU looks like after Infinity War and its sequel beyond the fact that Kevin Feige describes these films as a culmination of everything that’s come before. Meaning we could be in for a soft reboot of the MCU, especially since the contracts of a lot of these actors are running out.
Indeed, when Robert Downey Jr.’s contract was up after Iron Man 3, he renegotiated a deal to co-star in future films that weren’t straight-up Iron Man movies. So it’s also possible that Evans re-ups for a minor or less time-consuming role in the MCU, or it’s possible he’s done for good.