Being part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe isn't exactly a side project, with filming and pick-ups/ADR taking up to six months for each movie and extensive press commitments surrounding every release. While the main stars of the franchise have found time to fit in acting roles in between their Marvel work schedules, it's hard to imagine orchestrating a career change while tied to such a massive franchise.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier star Chris Evans is doing just that, however. He recently directed his first feature film, 1:30 Train, a drama starring himself and Alice Eve which was shot in just 19 days on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Evans has been hinting for some time that he intends to become a director and move away from acting - at least, in other people's movies.
Speaking to Variety, Evans has clarified his intentions regarding his place in the Marvel universe and how much longer he intends to stay there.
He originally signed a contract for six movies and now - after two Captain America movies and The Avengers - he is halfway to fulfilling his contractual obligations, not counting his upcoming role in Avengers: Age of Ultron. In fact, Evans said that he had to argue Marvel down to that number, having told Variety:
"Initially, it was a nine-movie contract. And they said, if these movies take off and do very well, and my life changes and I don’t respond well, I don’t have the opportunity to say, listen, I need a f--king break. That just scared me.
"They called back and they tweaked the deal. It went from nine [films] to six. I said no again. My family was even going, ‘Are you sure you’re making the right decisions?’ It started to feel like maybe this is what I'm supposed to do."
Unlike his on-screen counterpart, Evans was the very definition of a reluctant hero. He eventually caved after a series of pep talks, including one from The Avengers co-star Robert Downey Jr., but four years later he's ready to start moving on and is already looking for a new feature film script to direct later this year.
"I've known for a while I wanted to direct. But (time) never really opens up. There’s another movie to do, there’s another acting job. It just got to a point where I was like, you know what — I have to do this... If I'm acting at all, it’s going to be under Marvel contract, or I'm going to be directing. I can’t see myself pursuing acting strictly outside of what I'm contractually obligated to do."
Sebastian Stan, who plays Bucky Barnes AKA the Winter Soldier in Captain America's latest adventure, is under contract for nine movies and will therefore still be around even after Evans' retirement from the role. This has led to speculation that Bucky could eventually take up the mantle of Captain America from Steve Rogers.
Of course, it's a bit early to start tearfully waving handkerchiefs at Evans just yet. With just three movies down (his cameo in Thor: The Dark World was agreed outside of the contract), he will go on to star in both the Avengers sequel and Captain America 3, and his final Marvel movie will most likely be The Avengers 3. Evans estimates there are about three years left before he's free to move on.
"We can do this out loud. [Avengers 2] will shoot till August. I wouldn’t be surprised if for all of 2015, we didn't do a movie. I bet by 2017, I’ll be done."
While Evans has done a great job in the role of Steve Rogers, it's understandable that he's looking forward to being relieved of a role that he didn't particularly want to take in the first place. The confirmation that he's ready to exit the stage opens up some very interesting questions as to how Steve Rogers will be written out of the Marvel universe, and who will succeed him. Will it be Bucky Barnes, or will the "psychotic 1950s Cap" that's been teased by the writers of Captain America 3 break free of his psychosis and become the main hero?
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is out in theaters on April 4, 2014.