Earth’s Mightiest Legalese: The Current Status of Marvel Movie Stars’ Contracts
When an actor signs on to play a superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they typically aren’t signing up for a single movie. They’re signing up for a whole bunch — sometimes as many as nine films — so Marvel can plan ahead for years, scoping out where a character can go over the course of several appearances. But contracts run out and some actors managed to finagle their way in without signing up for a bunch of movies in advance. So superhero movie fans always wonder just how many more times they’ll get to see Chris Evans play Captain America or Robert Downey Jr. play Iron Man. How many movies are left on their contract? What’s next?
To answer those questions, we’ve assembled all of the known information about the contracts of the major players in the MCU in one handy place. Read on to discover the legal workings that power the storytelling of the Marvel movies.
Character: T’Challa, aka Black Panther
Total Contract: Five films
Films Finished: None yet.
Films On Deck: Boseman will make his Marvel debut in Captain America: Civil War on May 6, 2015. He is set to get his own solo adventure in Black Panther, scheduled for July 6, 2018.
Robert Downey Jr.
Character: Tony Stark, aka Iron Man
Total Contract: Currently movie to movie, with his current contract only including the third Avengers movie. It’s a little tricky.
Films Finished: Five; Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, and Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Films On Deck: Since he’s in a position of relative power thanks to his wild popularity and a nearly completed contract, Downey Jr.’s future in the MCU is uncertain. He’ll be back for at least part two of the Avengers: Infinity War event, but that officially ends his contract. However, Marvel did sign him up to co-star in Captain America: Civil War. After that, who knows? Rumors also suggest that he’ll put in an appearance in the next (Marvel Studios-produced) Spider-Man movie. Marvel may have to pay Downey Jr. a lot more, but we probably haven’t seen the last of Tony Stark.
Character: Steve Rogers, aka Captain America
Films Finished: Four; Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Avengers: Age of Ultron. His cameo in Thor: The Dark World didn’t count.
Films On Deck: Evans is set to begin filming Captain America: Civil War very soon, but after that? With one film left on his contract, we may have to wait until the second half of Avengers: Infinity War to see Cap make his grand return.
Total Contract: Six films, although Hemsworth has been talking about the two-part Avengers: Infinity War as if it was one movie.
Films Finished: Four; Thor, The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, and Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Films On Deck: Thor: Ragnarkok is being scripted at this very moment with a scheduled release date of July 28, 2017. Like Evans, we probably won’t see him again after that until Avengers: Infinity War Part II.
Films Finished: Three; Thor, The Avengers, and Thor: The Dark World.
Films On Deck: Although it hasn’t been confirmed, Loki will undoubtedly play a key role in Thor: Ragnarok. Why else would the cliffhanger ending of Thor: The Dark World exist? From there, we have no idea what Marvel plans to do with Thor’s evil brother, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see him pop up in both Avengers: Infinity War films.
Samuel L. Jackson
Character: Nick Fury
Total Contract: Nine films
Films Finished: Seven; Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Films On Deck: Who knows! It’s likely that Jackson will show up for Captain America: Civil War, but then he’ll only have one film left on his contract. We can imagine the MCU saving his grand finale for Infinity War, but that’s pure speculation.
Character: Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow
Total Contract: Movie to movie for most of her appearances, but she may have signed a three-movie deal encompassing the three Avengers movies.
Films Finished: Four; Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Films On Deck: Johansson is already locked in for Captain America: Civil War, but her supposed movie to movie contract gives her some flexibility. At the very least, she’ll have to show up for at least one of the Infinity War movies since it wouldn’t be an Avengers adventure without her.
Character: Sam Wilson, aka the Falcon
Total Contract: Unknown multi-picture deal
Films Finished: Two; Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Films On Deck: Mackie will play a major role in Captain America: Civil War, but nothing has been established beyond that. Mackie has never publicly commented on the number of films in his contract, but he has implied that it’s many. In the comics, the Falcon picks up the mantel of Captain America after Steve Rogers retires, so that’s always a possibility, especially if he’s going to be sticking around for a little while.
Character: Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord
Total Contract: Unknown multi-picture deal
Films Finished: One; Guardians of the Galaxy.
Films On Deck: Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is already slated for May 5, 2017 and we imagine that there’s at least a trilogy in store for those characters. We also wouldn’t be surprised to see Star-Lord and his crew show up in Avengers: Infinity War to help take down Thanos, but that’s just educated speculation.
Character: Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye
Total Contract: Four films, specifically three Avengers movies and a proposed Hawkeye solo feature.
Films Finished: Three; Thor, The Avengers, and Avengers: Age of Ultron. The Thor cameo didn’t count against his contract.
Films On Deck: Renner officially joined Captain America: Civil War a few weeks ago, but beyond that, the future of the MCU’s Hawkeye doesn’t look very clear. Renner’s contract had called for a potential Hawkeye movie, but Marvel doesn’t have one planned for Phase Three of their movie universe.
Character: Bruce Banner, aka the Hulk
Films Finished: Two; The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron. His cameo in Iron Man 3 didn’t count.
Films On Deck: Who knows? We’d wager that the Hulk puts in an obligatory Avengers: Infinity War appearance, but Marvel has been tight-lipped about their plans for Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner ... or they simply don’t know what to do. After all, it was recently revealed that Marvel doesn’t have rights to a solo Hulk movie. Rumors have suggested that he may pop up in Guardians of the Galaxy 2, but nothing has been confirmed.
Character: James “Bucky” Barnes, aka the Winter Soldier
Total Contract: Nine films
Films Finished: One; Captain America: The Winter Soldier. His role in Captain America: The First Avenger was completed before he signed his contract.
Films On Deck: Stan’s Winter Soldier will play a key role in Captain America: Civil War, but anything beyond that is a mystery. However, a nine film contract seems awfully large for a supporting player. In the comics, Bucky picks up Captain America’s shield after he’s struck down by an assassin during the, you guessed it, Civil War storyline. Could Marvel be setting up Sebastian Stan to become the second Captain America, replacing Chris Evans and playing the role in future films? Maybe.