[MILD SPOILERS AHEAD FOR CAPTAIN AMERICA 2!]
In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Steve Rogers is still adjusting to life in the 21st century, and the ghosts from his past aren't likely to make things any easier. After believing that everyone he once knew is now dead, Steve finds himself facing off against his old friend James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes, who has been brainwashed, kitted out with a metal arm and turned into a deadly fighter known as the Winter Soldier.
This turbulent reunion marks Sebastian Stan's second outing in the role of Bucky (third if you count Captain America: Super-Soldier, the tie-in video game). Since Bucky took up the Captain America mantle from Steve Rogers in the comics, some are speculating that Chris Evans might eventually hand the role over to Stan.
To add further fuel to this speculation, Stan has revealed in an interview with Newsarama that he has a nine-picture deal with Marvel. This means that, contractually speaking, the studio has him locked down for more movies than Evans, who only has a six-picture deal. Speaking to Collider, Evans said that he's definitely going to complete all the movies in his contract, but doesn't make any guarantees beyond that.
As Bleeding Cool notes, Evans' cameo in Thor: The Dark World was not part of his six picture deal, which means that so far he's fulfilled two of his official appearances with Captain America: The Winter Soldier set to be the third and The Avengers: Age of Ultron the fourth. Captain America 3 will release in direct competition with Batman vs. Superman on May 6, 2016, and Evans' sixth appearance will most likely be The Avengers 3.
In his interview, Stan says that he was aware of Bucky Barnes' eventual transformation into the Winter Soldier while filming Captain America: The First Avenger, but that he didn't know for sure if it was a role he would ever get to play. Since he's committed for so many movies, each of which take about six months to shoot, Stan says that he's done everything he can to research Bucky and get to the heart of the character.
"You have to learn about the character, love the character, and for me, there was no question—I had to read up, as much as I could. And fortunately, I'm not building from scratch here. There’s plenty of stories and material that tell you that Bucky acts a certain way, and there are plenty of fans who are very opinionated and will help you find out more and appreciate it all. I wanted to make sure I was doing everything right."
The subject of different actors or characters taking up the names of existing superheroes has come up before, but with Stan contracted for so many Marvel movies it does seem like the studio has an arc in mind for him. President of Production Kevin Feige said earlier this year that Marvel started making plans for 2015 releases back in 2006, and that currently they've planned ahead as far as 2021. Could we see a new face of Captain America by then?
Captain America: The Winter Soldier arrives in theaters on April 4, 2014.