Who's legally bound for long-term superheroism?
Normally people don’t get excited over the details and clauses of Hollywood contracts, but Marvel fans aren’t your typical moviegoers. That’s because the normally dry legal-speak can hold some fodder for predictions about what might be happening next to this suite of superheroes. It helps us trace who might be getting interesting story developments, or who might be meeting a grisly yet heroic demise.
With the Marvel Cinematic Universe being something of a pioneer in blockbuster entertainment, we know there's approximately 417 years of movies to come. Read on to find out which of your favorite superheroes and sidekicks have busy calendars.
Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr.'s contract has racked up so much ink that it's gone from being just a legal document to the stuff of legend. Most of that's because he was originally set to bow out of the MCU after five movies, ending with Avengers: Age of Ultron. His contract was then extended to include Captain America: Civil War and the two-part Infinity War. Once he's wrapped on that second instalment and a role in Spider-Man: Homecoming, he'll have fulfilled his current obligations. We’re hearing chatter that Iron Man 4 could very well happen, but even though Downey's said he's game, there’s been some debate as to whether the Tony Stark role might be recast. Say it ain't so, RDJ!
The yin to Tony Stark's yang. Chris Evans' got into a bit of bother a couple of years back when he said that he'd be exploring new avenues once his Marvel contract had expired. Obviously, he was quick to rectify that, as a few days later he backtracked a little - and confirmed he had two more movies left. Civil War and... well, we don't know the second one, but our best guess is that it's the final part of Infinity War in 2019. It’s looking like the smaller, supporting Avengers will dominate the first part while the main players will step up for the second. But, Evans' is happy to continue as he said last year "If Marvel wants me, they got me."
Now that Marvel is finally coming around to the possibility of a Black Widow spin-off, we might hear more solid evidence concerning Johansson's contract. Rumor has it that she has a three-movie deal that spans The Avengers trilogy with all other appearances worked out on a film-by-film process. Okay, but that doesn't exactly tell us about her involvement in Infinity War. She's got to be in it though, right? I mean, it's Black Widow. It seems her fate in that two-parter is still uncertain as she told Collider last spring "it's too early to tell" adding that her contract has "morphed and mutated" over the years. Marvel - get the lady a pen!
You might have yearned for him in Civil War, but don't worry. He'll be back. Chris Hemsworth has currently completed four of his six contracted movies: Thor, The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, and Avengers: Age Of Ultron. Next up for Asgard's favorite son is Thor: Ragnarok, the third chapter in his trilogy which leaves one remaining. But then that all went by-the-by when Hemsworth said during the Age of Ultron press tour that he had three movies left: "I’ve got Avengers 3 and 4 and I’ve got Thor 3," he told Collider. Could this mean he might actually only appear in one part, like Chris Evans?
The big green guy is currently... floating in space somewhere? Who knows with The Hulk. As for the man who plays him, Mark Ruffalo has only wrapped up two of his six contracted movies; The Avengers and Avengers: Age Of Ultron. The Iron Man 3 credit scene didn't count. He's scheduled to return from orbit to begin a three-movie story arc in Thor: Ragnarok, where he and Thor will buddy-up for a cosmic road movie. After that he'll be in the two-part Infinity War. That leaves...*finger maths*... one more movie. Maybe Marvel and Universal will hammer out that deal for a proper Hulk solo film?
Even though we were first introduced to Hawkeye in Thor, that didn't count toward the four movies on Jeremy Renner’s contract. The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War constitute the first three, leaving one remaining. Seeing as Renner recently confirmed that he's game for Infinity War, it could mean we'll be watching him bury his pointy little arrows into Thanos. Then again, his original deal with Marvel involved a Hawkeye solo movie - which hasn't been mentioned in any Phase 3 plans - and Renner has expressed interest in making the leap to a Netflix series. Watch this space.
Olsen began her Marvel journey with a large supporting role in Avengers: Age of Ultron. She fared much better than her onscreen sibling Quicksilver, earning herself a spot in the Earth's Mightiest Heroes' new line-up. So how many more movies can we expect to see her unique skills? Will she and "Vizsch" eventually let bygones be bygones and let Cupid do his thing? Olsen herself hasn't said a peep, but the Russo brothers who directed her in Civil War promise that we'll see her reach the peak of her powers in Infinity War. It sounds like there's two more movies at least for Olsen.
Samuel L. Jackson
Fury's absence in Civil War didn't go unnoticed. Luckily Jackson's only completed seven of his nine contracted movies, which means we'll be seeing more of the former S.H.I.E.L.D. director. Which films he's going to be in though, that's a different matter. The most obvious duo would be both parts of Infinity War. Buuuut, as Jackson's made it clear he wants to renegotiate for an extended contract, he could easily pop up in any solo movies that surface between now and then. Thor: Ragnarok?
It was early in 2015 when Bettany revealed that he had indeed put ink to paper for a Marvel studios contract. He seemed rather excited about it too, expressing the freedom it gives him for other work in between: in short, Marvel's his steady gig. He hasn't confirmed publicly how long his contract bends into the future, but, we'd hazard a guess and say that the Infinity Gem wedged in his forehead almost certainly guarantees him a spot in Infinity War.
Remember before Civil War came out and everyone - me included - was certain that we'd see either a hint or a mention of Bucky taking over as Captain America? Well, that's because a) it occurs in the comics and b) Sebastian Stan is signed up for NINE MOVIES. That doesn't happen because your mom bakes Kevin Feige dynamic cookies - it means your character is going places. So far, Stan's knocked out two of his contracted films (The First Avenger was prior to signing) which leaves seven flicks. Black Panther seems an obvious choice given how Civil War ended and Infinity War part 1 and 2 as no MCU character is being left out of that scrap. Four remain. A solo movie?
The new Spider-Man swooped into view for an extended role in Civil War, and everyone fell in love with Holland's "aw shucks" wide-eyed approach to Peter Parker. He's just plain brilliant. He definitely has a future in this new hybridised superhero universe that's bridged the gap between Sony and Marvel, most recently revealing that he's on the hook for six MCU movies. Holland said three of them will be solo outings, with Spider-Man: Homecoming the first out of the gate. As for the remaining appearances, might he be webbing that gauntlet off Thanos' hand in Infinity War? Time will tell.
Boseman made a lasting impression in Civil War as Wakandan prince-turned-king T'Challa. You might know him as the ass-kicking Black Panther. With one performance under his belt that leaves Boseman with only four movies remaining on his five-film contract. Counting his solo movie, 2018's Black Panther, we've two more spots. Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has stated that T'Challa's solo flick leads into the next Avengers sequels, so we'd add those two Infinity Wars as a definite.
With four Marvel movies to his name - and even following the events of Civil War - we're likely to see even more of James "War Machine" Rhodes in the future. Yet Cheadle's contract isn't quite as public as others. As an ally of Tony Stark's it seems logical that he'd be wherever he is, which is in the two-part Infinity War, and perhaps even that on-again off-again Iron Man 4? “I never know where the character’s going to go," he told Superhero Hype, "you’ll see that what happens to Rhodey is a little bit more intense and pivotal to what happens in the rest of the stories.” Sounds like he's got a few more to go.
In Mackie's words he's signed up for "like 50" movies in the MCU. Let's assume that he was joshing about and exaggerated the number a smidgen. "I signed up for as many movies as I could," he told Vulture. "I was willing to go as far as they would let me, in whatever capacity they wanted to retain me." It doesn't exactly help us figure out how many more times we'll see him onscreen. Infinity War is the safest bet for his next appearance, but who knows? Maybe he'll team up with Scott Lang again for Ant-Man and The Wasp.
Rudd signed up for five movies in total. Following his headlining role in Ant-Man last year, he stole most of his scenes during that amusing supporting role in Civil War. Right, that's three remaining. We know he's playing Scott Lang again in Ant-Man and The Wasp, and we're gonna assume those last two are for Infinity War? Let's not forget though: if he continues to grow (no pun intended) in popularity with cinemagoers, we might be looking at a third Ant-Man movie - and an extended contract for Rudd.
Out of the picture now since that cliffhanger at the end of Thor: The Dark World, we've been wondering when Asgard's naughtiest citizen would reappear. Hiddleston started out with a six-film contract, and so far he's cropped up in Thor, The Avengers and the Thor sequel. He's pretty much confirmed for Thor: Ragnarok, as expected, and considering he's one of Thanos' lackeys, his final two films are probably Infinity War. The two-part sequel that everyone's 'probably' going to be in.
"I'm tied to doing three more, or five more, Guardians of the Galaxy or whatever it is, you know, two more Guardians plus another couple..." Pratt told GQ last year, which the magazine took to mean: two Guardians sequels and two more Marvel movies. As Peter Quill/Star-Lord his next adventure, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, will be hitting theaters around this time next year. That leaves the rumored Guardians 3 and an additional pair of non-Guardians flicks. Now, it'd be easy to say that it's Infinity War, as it's expected that the Guardians will team up with the Avengers to fight Thanos. But, he could easily make an appearance in Thor: Ragnarok. Because, you know, space.
Another actor whose deal has been kept out of interviews. Saldana first appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy as a member of the intergalactic do-gooders, and is currently shooting on the sequel. And, while there's been no official word from the actress herself, it's expected that her contract is much like her co-stars: another two Guardians movies and the potential to appear in other Marvel movies for cameos.
Bearing in mind that Drax is super pissed about Thanos, it makes sense that he's in Infinity War, right? When it comes to revenge, this is a guy who will go to the ends of the Earth and the farthest reaches of the galaxy to kill the purple-skinned tyrant. Well, it seems that's going to be the case. While Bautista's original contract was solely tied to the Guardians movies, Marvel was so impressed with Bautista's first appearance that his contract was extended to include the two-part Avengers sequel. So, that's a total of four more movies including Guardians 2 for the WWE champ.
Much like his Guardians co-stars, it's likely that Cooper's contract involves the two direct sequels. Oh, no wait. Everyone's in Infinity War too, aren't they? It wouldn't be the same with his smart-mouthed little raccoon on hand to bolster everyone's spirits with violence and quips. Cooper's involvement stretches past pure speculation, though, as in a recent interview one of the writers on the Avengers sequels teased Rocket's inclusion in the movie.
Diesel's got so much going on it's a wonder that he has time for Marvel movies. Luckily, he only has one line to remember and he gets to deliver it wearing sweatpants in a vocal booth. He's reprising his role as Groot in the Guardians sequel, and even though none of his contractual obligations have been made public, it's expected he'll be back for the third one. Then there's Diesel's constant teasing about playing Black Bolt in The Inhumans. If that's still happening, of course.
Before shooting had even started on Ant-Man, Lilly was locked in for a multi-movie deal that we now know includes the sequel Ant-Man and The Wasp. Even still, ink's not always a guarantee. “When I signed on with that contract, I knew there was a chance I would never do another Marvel film, but they make you sign them anyway,” Lilly said prior to the first film's release. “I hope I actually get to fulfil that contract.” How many films that entails is unknown - but she's now said that Wasp will pop up in the the second part of Infinity War.
We haven't seen a lot of Brolin as the MCU's big bad Thanos, but we're certainly going to be well acquainted by the time Infinity War ends. After cropping up in post-credits scenes, and a larger role in Guardians of The Galaxy, his quest to acquire all of the Infinity Stones will conclude with the two-part Avengers sequel. How many more movies will Brolin appear in before then? It's unclear. Here's what he told IGN two years ago: "I know what one appearance is going to be for sure. There's one or two that I don't know." That's a minimum of three, and one of those might have been Age of Ultron's post-credits tag. Earlier this year he confirmed that we'll be seeing a lot more of the purple titan, so he's probably got two left on his contract.
Cumberbatch’s deal kicked off this year with Marvel’s first dip into the supernatural realm. Given the strong performance Doctor Strange has had so far in theaters, it seems pretty certain that Marvel will want to retain the brainy Brit’s talents. He’s already gearing up for other crossovers, dropping that he’s part of the ever-ballooning Avengers: Infinity War cast. Thanks to the Doctor Strange credits scene tease, it's pretty safe to assume that he’s got a part in Thor: Ragnarok. A second Doctor Strange standalone would likely please MCU fans, but that's all guesswork.
Cumberbatch wasn’t the only impressive new actor joining the MCU ranks in Doctor Strange. Chiwetel Ejiofor assumed the role of Mordo, and based on that second end-credits scene, he sure looks like he’ll be back if a Strange sequel happens. But the details of his contract aren’t too broadly known, so there’s no saying for certainty whether Ejiofor has already been tapped for such a project. And of course, just about any MCU actor seems to have the potential for at least a cameo in Avengers: Infinity War, but we’ll have to wait and see if he’s among their ranks.
With Marvel introducing more heroes from its vast pantheon, one of the most eagerly anticipated updates was casting Brie Larson as Captain Marvel. Not only will she be stepping into Carol Danvers’ shoes in her own solo movie in 2019, but it’s being rumored that her debut appearance will actually be in, yep, you guessed it, Avengers: Infinity War. That said, we haven’t heard just how many projects she’s signed for yet so stay tuned!