Much of Phase 2 in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has focused on continuing the stories of characters established in Phase 1: Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America (Chris Evans), Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth). However, when Captain America: Civil War kicks off Phase 3 next year, Marvel Studios is set to introduce a number of new heroes like Spider-Man, Black Panther, Doctor Strange and Captain Marvel.
As for the Phase 1 heroes, many of the actors' contracts are winding down, and Evans specifically has been the focus of speculation as to whether he'll continue on past his six-film contract or part ways with Marvel. Now, the actor's most recent comments indicate he wouldn't mind extending his time in the Captain America suit.
While speaking with Collider about his directorial debut, Before We Go, Evans confirmed his contract with Marvel ends with Avengers: Infinity War - Part 1 and Part 2, but said he would be eager to sign on for more films if the studio asks.
“Listen, if Marvel wants me they got me. I’ve never had such a relationship where you have such - I mean look at my resume, I’m used to being on set being like, ‘Ah is this movie gonna be terrible?’ Marvel just can’t stop making great movies, they do it in their sleep. It’s wonderful directors and producers and actors and scripts, and it’s like a playground as an actor.”
Before signing on to Marvel, Evans was first sent a nine-film contract, which the studio knocked down to six, but the actor was still unsure. Eventually he joined the MCU after words of encouragement from his friends/family (including Iron Man himself, Downey Jr.) When talking to Collider, the actor spoke about this initial reluctance:
“It’s so mind-boggling that I was so tentative in the beginning to jump onboard. What an asshole I would be if I hadn’t done this. I mean can you imagine? Kicking myself - I’d never forgive myself!”
Although Evans has never said anything negative about Marvel Studios or its approach, his newest comments are a far cry from the actor who was reluctant to sign on to Captain America: The First Avenger in the first place. Even last year, prior to the release of the critically well-received box office hit Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Evans was talking about shifting his focus from acting to directing - and potentially quitting the former altogether outside of contractual obligations.
Then The Winter Soldier premiered and epitomized to many - perhaps Evans included - that Marvel is capable of mixing its superhero films with other genres in order to give them wider appeal. Even still, it's only been much recently that Evans has changed his stance on the end of his Marvel contract, with the actor saying he's "terrified" to be done and, now, that if the studio wants him back for additional movies he's more than willing to return.
Though it seems Evans is now genuinely excited to be a part of the MCU, even as late as last fall the actor spoke about looking toward the end of his contract so that he could shift his major focus to directing. That was while he was promoting the premiere of Before We Go at the Toronto International Film Festival, which hit theaters and VOD on September 4. However, Before We Go (originally titled 1:30 Train) has been largely panned by critics and currently sits with a 24% rating on Rotten Tomatoes - though the audience score is significantly better at 66%.
When promoting Before We Go at TIFF last fall, Evans admitted it was his Marvel "notoriety" that helped the film receive a green light. If his directorial debut isn't successful, it may hurt his future career behind the camera. Then again, it may not, depending on how much his Marvel reputation can help him in his directorial endeavors. It should be noted that, at the moment, he has nothing lined up to direct, but with Before We Go only now hitting theaters and his Marvel obligations to Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, that isn't too surprising.
Whether or not Evans does continue to wear the costume of Captain America within the MCU remains to be seen, especially with Steve Rogers' fate in Avengers 3 and beyond largely unknown. If Evans does retire from the MCU, it has been speculated that either Sam Wilson a.k.a. Falcon (Anthony Mackie) or Bucky Barnes a.k.a. The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) could take up the mantle of Captain America since both characters have done so in the Marvel comics.
That being said, fans of Evans' turn as Steve Rogers can at least hold onto hope that the actor will return to the character following Infinity War. With nothing known about the MCU following its current plan for Phase 3, which ends in 2019 with Inhumans, it's difficult to say what Evans' future role could look like, but at least he seems to be on board to return.
Captain America: Civil War opens in theaters May 6, 2016; Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man– July 28, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Black Panther– July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – November 2, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans – July 12, 2019.