Over the course of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s creation, there have been several instances of actors landing one of the many superhero roles and that role then becoming the defining role of their careers. Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, and even Tom Holland as Spider-Man are all recognized immediately for their work within the universe. Chris Evans however, may be the best embodiment on and off-screen of his role, having played the role of Captain America almost flawlessly since 2011.
Upon joining the MCU as Steve Rogers, Evans signed a six picture contract with Marvel Studios – a length that has been the most common for Marvel actors. With the Captain America trilogy under his belt and two Avengers movies in the can, it would appear that his contract is almost up. He is already confirmed to be involved in Avengers: Infinity War and/or Untitled Avengers, which has brought many to wonder if Phase 3 will be his final appearance.
Esquire recently did a profile on Evans about his entire career, not just his role as Captain America, and while he doesn’t directly speak much about the role, one section of the profile does make it seem as though he will not be reprising his role in Phase 4 or beyond.
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.
The lack of a direct quote from Evans makes it difficult to uncover how accurate this statement is. The article goes on to mention Evans’ desire to do a variety of projects and not just superhero roles, which could point to a reason behind his desire to move on. Back in 2014, Evans said, “I bet by 2017, I’ll be done” when discussing his future as Cap. The reasoning behind that statement was because of his interest in directing, but also the burden that comes with leading one of these mega-franchises.
To help lighten his load for Captain America: Civil War, Marvel not only expanded the cast greatly, but also brought Downey in to be the co-lead, further taking the burden of carrying a film off Evans’ mighty shoulders. In fact, a year after those previous comments, Evans said he’s terrified to not play Cap anymore, and while he later acknowledged that at some point someone else will take up this mantle, he isn’t ready to leave the MCU yet.
Since the experience with Civil War, Evans has gone as far as to say he will play Cap as long as Marvel wants. This would involve an extension to his contract, but that has not been an uncommon practice so far – with Downey, Samuel L. Jackson, Johansson, and others having already extended their deals behind-the-scenes. However, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has hinted that the MCU may continue without Evans, sooner than later.
As of right now, the signals are mixed at best as to whether or not Evans will continue to play the character past Avengers 4. But, if he does hang up the shield willingly or the character dies (for real) in the finale against Thanos, Marvel has options to keep the mantle alive. Anthony Mackie (Falcon) and Sebastian Stan (Winter Soldier) could easily step into the lead role, or maybe even Gina Rodriguez as America Chavez aka Miss America could be an option. The Captain America brand will continue with or without Evans, but at this time it is hard to imagine anyone else carrying that shield.