With the Marvel Cinematic Universe heading on its 20th installment with Ant-Man and the Wasp, the decade-long franchise is set to reconfigure its universe. Thanos just happened to snap his fingers in Avengers: Infinity War, eliminating half of all life in the galaxy, but a worse scenario has fallen upon Marvel Studios and some of their actors. That’s right: contracts are coming to an end.
Many of our favorite actors signed on with the superhero conglomerate early on when the MCU was in its infant stage, accepting lucrative and rather extensive contracts. It’s not unprecedented for actors to sign multi-picture deals with film studios, but never was it the case that an actor would dedicate over 10 years of their life to a single franchise. The MCU has seen actors accept five-film deals, six-film deals, and even nine-film deals. Yet, just because a contract is long, doesn’t mean time won’t catch up with you.
Indeed, time has caught up with actors such as Chris Evans and Mark Ruffalo. Contract renegotiations happen all the time, but if such doesn’t transpire, then we won’t be seeing some key Avengers fight it out on the big screen in years to come. With the MCU getting bigger than ever before, perhaps staying with Marvel Studios should be number one on some of these actor’s agendas. Other actors may have agreed to a certain number of films, but Marvel doesn't need to take them up on it.
Here are 8 Actors Leaving The MCU (And 12 That Still Have Contracts).
20 Brie Larson (Staying)
Marvel Studios has been on the lookout for an actress to portray Captain Marvel for a long time, but fans absolutely lost it when Kevin Feige announced at San Diego Comic-Con that Oscar-winner Brie Larson would bring the character to life.
At first it was assumed that the powerful hero would make her debut in this year’s Avengers: Infinity War, and even though Larson did shoot a few scenes for that film, she will rather make her first MCU appearance in her own solo movie in 2019.
That means that the actress has signed a multi-picture deal with Marvel.
Though much of her contract details hasn’t been made public, we can assume that Larson will be around for a long, long time.
Especially since Feige recently said that Captain Marvel will be the new face of the MCU going forward.
19 Paul Rudd (Staying)
However unexpected Paul Rudd’s casting was in the MCU, we can all now agree that it was definitely the right choice. Rudd is virtually synonymous with the character of Ant-Man and it would be impossible to imagine anybody else as the tiny superhero. It’s good then that Rudd signed a multi-picture deal with Marvel that extends well over Avengers 4.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Rudd revealed that he signed a “three-plus-plus” contract with Marvel Studios that started with his own film in 2015.
After Captain America: Civil War and Ant-Man and the Wasp, Rudd still has two more movies left on his contract.
We already know he’ll appear in Avengers 4 and since he didn’t appear in Infinity War, then that means he should be sticking around a little longer during Phase 4.
18 Chris Evans (Leaving)
Chris Evans started his MCU journey way back in 2011 with Captain America: The First Avenger. Though the film wasn’t a breakout hit, it helped establish Evans as a leading Marvel star. Even though he had already proven to be a great Marvel hero in Fox’s original Fantastic Four film, it was with Captain America that Evans left his mark in Hollywood.
Evans signed one of the longest multi-picture deals with Marvel Studios, but his run with the company officially ends in 2019 with the fourth Avengers movie. When he revealed to ABC that “by 2019, that’s it,” fans totally lost it and demanded of Evans to renegotiate his contract. Sadly, all things must come to an end and after playing the character for nearly a decade, it’s understandable if Evans wants to pass on the mantle.
17 Chadwick Boseman (Staying)
2018's Black Panther to become a cultural phenomenon. Not only did the film become a national sensation, it also managed to earn over one billion dollars worldwide. No one was happier than Marvel Studios.
A few years prior, Chadwick Boseman signed a five-picture deal with the company, according to Deadline.
This means that T’Challa isn’t going anywhere too far from the Disney backlot. Boseman’s contract started with Captain America: Civil War and after his own film, Infinity War and Avengers 4, he still has one more movie left on his contract. Regardless of what happened to Black Panther in Avengers: Infinity War, he will likely be back in Phase 4 of the MCU.
16 Robert Downey Jr. (Leaving)
Like Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr. will also be taking off the iron suit after 2019’s Avengers 4. Not only did Evans reveal to ABC that his contract would end the following year, but that Downey’s was also on a similar boat.
Downey’s journey goes all the way back to the first MCU film, 2008’s Iron Man. Since then, he has become the face of Marvel and of superheroes in general.
For 10 years, Downey has dedicated a majority of his filmography to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, appearing in over nine MCU films.
Essentially, the MCU wouldn’t be what it is today without Robert Downey Jr. Can the next Iron Man live up to the expectations? Only time will tell.
15 Scarlett Johansson (Staying)
Scarlett Johansson joined the MCU in 2010’s Iron Man 2 as Black Widow and since has become one of the most interesting additions in the entire franchise. Black Widow became an even better character in 2012’s The Avengers, but it was in 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier that we really got to see Johansson truly embrace the character.
It’s no question that Black Widow helped establish Johansson as an action star, but there’s not a lot of information on her Marvel contract.
The yet-untitled Avengers 4 will be Johansson’s seventh MCU film, and if she signed a nine-film contract akin to other stars, then that means that she has three more films left on her deal. There’s no way to truly know, but since a Black Widow solo movie is currently in the works, then we can safely assume Johansson will not be leaving the Disney backlot anytime soon.
14 Chris Hemsworth (Leaving)
When the MCU first started, Marvel Studios needed three main heroes to helm the franchise forward. Those were Iron Man, Captain America and Thor. 2011 saw the release of Thor in theaters and the first time that audiences mesmerized at the sight of Chris Hemsworth. The Australian actor demonstrated that he was born for the role of the god of thunder and quickly won fans’ hearts.
Hemsworth won’t be playing Thor forever.
In the same ABC interview, Chris Evans not only revealed that Robert Downey Jr.’s contract was up, but that Hemsworth’s contract was as well. After 2019’s Avengers 4, Hemsworth will be putting down the hammer.
13 Sebastian Stan (Staying)
Everyone knows who Bucky is, but what some might not know is that Sebastian Stan signed an astonishing nine-film contract with Marvel to play the role. Stan’s first MCU appearance was in Captain America: The First Avenger. His second was in The Winter Soldier and his third was in Civil War. His fourth appearance came in this year’s Avengers: Infinity War and he’s set to return once more in Avengers 4.
Not counting his cameos in Ant-Man and Black Panther, Stan will have had appeared in five MCU films by 2019.
It’s interesting that Stan’s contract is longer than Chris Evans’ and it perhaps hints at the possibility of Stan’s character one day becoming the new Captain America.
12 Chris Pratt (Leaving)
Chris Pratt has quickly become one of the best-known Marvel actors outside of the Avengers. When Guardians of the Galaxy came out in 2014, Pratt captivated audiences with his performance as Star-Lord and then again in that film’s 2017 sequel. Pratt reprised his role of Star-Lord in this year’s Avengers: Infinity War and even though the character perished in that film, he’ll return in the yet-untitled Avengers 4.
Reportedly, Pratt’s last film on his Marvel contract is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which starts production this year.
Nevertheless, the actor has said countless times that he’s willing to renegotiate his contract in a heartbeat. Pratt is on his way out, but here’s to hoping he signs more deals with Marvel Studios.
11 Tom Holland (Staying)
Tom Holland is arguably the best actor to portray Spider-Man on the big screen. Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield definitely led the way, but Holland has truly captured the essence of Spider-Man. Audiences got to see how awesome Holland is as Spidey in Captain America: Civil War, but it was in Spider-Man: Homecoming that they really fell in love with the English actor.
Marvel knew it from the start that Holland was the perfect choice for the role, so he was signed to a sweet six-picture deal. Holland has already fulfilled four movies out of the six (Civil War, Homecoming, Infinity War, and Avengers 4), leaving two more on his contract. That means Spider-Man will be staying with us for a couple more years, at least.
10 Tom Hiddleston (Leaving)
Before Thanos, there was arguably no better villain in the MCU than Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. It took a while for Hiddleston’s character to become a fan favorite, as it was only after 2012’s The Avengers that Loki truly became as iconic as he is today. Indeed, Loki is just as famous as his brother Thor and though now he is more of an anti-hero than a villain, the character hasn’t deviated from being who he is: the god of mischief.
Loki won’t be sticking around for much longer.
It’s believed that Hiddleston signed a six-film deal with Marvel.
9 Michael Pena (Staying)
There aren’t many Hispanic actors in the film side of the MCU, so many Spanish-speaking Marvel fans got excited when Michael Pena was cast in a prominent role. Though Pena doesn’t play a superhero, Luis from Ant-Man has become a fan-favorite all around the world, due to his lively persona and one very hilarious scene in particular.
Luckily for us, Pena won’t be leaving the MCU anytime soon.
In an interview with Collider, the actor didn’t reveal much about his contract, but he did hint that it was a multi-picture deal with a minimum of three movies. So far, Pena has appeared in the original Ant-Man and will appear in its sequel later this year.
8 Samuel L. Jackson (Leaving)
Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury is just as memorable as any of the main Avengers. What’s made him so intriguing is his capacity to be in almost every Marvel film, which was enabled by Jackson signing a nine-picture contract with Marvel Studios. He first appeared in the original Iron Man, where he first mentioned the Avengers initiative.
Jackson has gone to appear in Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Avengers: Infinity War. So far, that’s eight films.
It’s unknown if Jackson will return for Avengers 4, so technically 2019’s Captain Marvel is the actor’s last film on his contract.
7 Evangeline Lilly (Staying)
With her debut in 2015’s Ant-Man, Evangeline Lilly quickly established herself as an MCU juggernaut. It will be in this year’s Ant-Man and the Wasp, though, that she’ll truly be able to shine as the titular Wasp. Like many of the contracts in the MCU, much about her Marvel deal isn’t known, but going by Paul Rudd’s contract, we can assume that Lilly probably signed a similar five-picture deal.
Since the Wasp didn’t appear in Captain America: Civil War or Avengers: Infinity War, then Lilly ostensibly has four more movies left on her contract after the Ant-Man sequel. That is, of course, if she nabbed a deal akin to Paul Rudd. Given that she now stars in her own Marvel movie, then that’s probably the case.
6 Jeremy Renner (Leaving)
Jeremy Renner had his full-fledged MCU debut in 2012’s The Avengers, but he very briefly appeared the year prior in Thor. He then went along to appear in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and again as part of Team Cap in Captain America: Civil War. His next MCU film is the yet-untitled Avengers 4, since he didn’t appear in this year’s Avengers: Infinity War.
Now, though there’s virtually no information on Renner’s Marvel contract online. A story that ran on Vanity Fair explicitly stated that his contract with the company would come to end with the fourth Avengers film. Hence, Renner apparently signed a five-film deal with Marvel Studios that’s coming to an end in 2019.
5 Michael Keaton (Staying)
Michael Keaton made his MCU debut in 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming. Starring opposite Tom Holland, Keaton played the villainous Adrian Toomes, aka the Vulture. After Marvel was criticized for having forgettable villains, it seemed that Keaton had finally broken the mold, delivering one of the best supervillain performances since Tom Hiddleston’s Loki.
After he was defeated by the end of Homecoming, it seemed like that was it for Keaton as the Vulture.
The character didn’t perish, but it’s not customary for Marvel to reuse old villains. Just look at how long it took them to bring back the Red Skull. Nevertheless, Keaton is coming back.
In a recent report by Variety, it was revealed that his character is set to make an appearance in the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming.
4 Mark Ruffalo (Leaving)
Mark Ruffalo’s Incredible Hulk is another original Avenger who’s moving on from the franchise if the actor doesn’t renew his contract. The actor spoke with Collider and revealed that he signed a six-picture deal with Marvel Studios, which according to Vanity Fair, will come to an end with next year’s Avengers 4.
Ruffalo’s first MCU film was in 2012’s The Avengers. Then, after briefly appearing in an Iron Man 3 post-credit scene, the actor starred in 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, last year’s Thor: Ragnarok, and this year’s Avengers: Infinity War. Indeed, Avengers 4 will be Ruffalo’s sixth and last MCU film.
The actor, though, has shown interest in renegotiating his contract, so perhaps we’ll be seeing Ruffalo’s Hulk again in the near future.
3 Cobie Smulders (Staying)
Most known for her role in the hits series How I Met Your Mother, Cobie Smulders made her MCU debut in 2012’s The Avengers as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill. Afterward she went on to appear in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and again in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Though she has only appeared in three MCU movies, with a post-credit cameo in Avengers: Infinity War and a brief appearance on the TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Canadian actress signed a seven-picture deal with Marvel.
This means that we can potentially see Smulders return in the near future, regardless of her fate in the aforementioned Infinity War.
2 Frank Grillo (Staying)
Frank Grillo is most known for his performance in The Purge franchise. He made his MCU debut in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, where he played the character of Brock Brumlow. Many fans were excited with his casting, mostly because Brumlow in the comics is actually the villain Crossbones.
Indeed, in the following Captain America film, Civil War, Grillo played Crossbones in full costume. Yet, in that film, he had a very brief appearance, leaving fans disappointed.
After the film, Grillo assured fans that Marvel wasn’t done with Crossbones just yet, as he revealed that he signed a multi-picture deal with the company. We don’t know if or when Grillo will return as Crossbones, but at least the actor still has his contract intact and is willing to reprise the role.
1 Josh Brolin (Staying)
Josh Brolin came late to the MCU playing field with a brief appearance in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy. It was in this movie where we saw Thanos in full splendor for the first time. He never got up from his floating chair, but his presence was still much appreciated. Brolin then had a cameo in Avengers: Age of Ultron, where he appeared in that film’s post-credit scene.
It was in Avengers: Infinity War that Brolin starred in the lead role as Thanos, that film’s main protagonist and antagonist.
Much of Brolin’s Marvel contract is kept under wraps, but the actor has confirmed that he signed a multi-picture deal with Marvel Studios.
If Avengers 4 isn’t his last movie, then we’ll be seeing Thanos again long after his eventual defeat.
Which MCU actor should renew his or her contract? Let us know in the comments.