Is that fateful day coming? For years, audiences have known about the multi-picture deals that many of the ‘Avengers‘ actors have struck with Marvel. And over the years, there’s been talk that actors like Robert Downey Jr. or Chris Evans would say goodbye to their respective characters. In fact, Downey maxed out his deal a few years back and had to re-up for “Captain America: Civil War,” a film for which he eventually became the defacto antagonist. Evans has toyed with, and then kind of recanted, the idea that he was tiring of Captain America and wanted to movie on, but the reality is after the two-part “Avengers: Infinity War,” actors like Evans, Downey, Chris Hemsworth, and Samuel L. Jackson will have completed their multi-year contracts with Marvel.
The question has always been: will Marvel recast? Kill characters? Try something else? Well, according to the Russo brothers, who directed ‘Civil War’ and will helm the two-part ‘Infinity War,’ it sounds like Marvel has a kind of loose plan in place. And that plan sounds like they’re putting the A-list characters in the rear and giving B-team characters more breathing room to shine in ‘Infinity War.’
“Everything is finite, right? Nothing can last forever,” the directors said in a recent Q&A (via ComicBook). “It’s cyclical. Some new Avengers in phase four are going to become prominent and then maybe some Avengers might not be around anymore. So, we’ll see how all this plays out but you have to treat every character with respect. I think it’s interesting that if you’ve seen four or five movies with the lead character having an arc, I want to see some story telling from some of the secondary characters. We’re focusing on that right now with ‘Infinity War’ while we’re breaking into those movies, [asking] which characters can we pull to the forefront who potentially haven’t had their own ‘A’ story arc to this point. I think you’ll see that the supporting Avengers are going to become primary Avengers.”
So, which supporting characters will become primary ‘Avengers,’ especially if they’re trying to phase out or at least put their main characters on the back burner (perhaps as a way of easing them away from audiences)? Well, probably the new generation and characters like Falcon, Black Panther, Scarlett Witch, Vision, Ant-Man, and eventually Doctor Strange (even Sebastian Stan as the Winter Soldier has a nine-picture deal that he’s only used up two of so far). Though someone like Mark Ruffalo only joined during the first ‘Avengers’ movie, so he only has two appearances thus far against his multi-year deal (which is why they probably also stuck him in “Thor: Ragnarok”), so we could see him for a few years beyond ‘Infinity War.’
What about Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johansson? She may be nearing the end of her run too. She’s been in four films so far, and ‘Civil War’ and two ‘Infinity War’ films takes that total to seven. Will we ever see her in a solo film, which is something that most fans have been begging for?
Asked during an interview in China (see below) whether they’d like to see a Black Widow film, the Russos chimed in immediately. “Oh yeah, we love that character,” Joe Russo said. “And we love Scarlett,” Anthony continued.
“Hell, yeah. We find that the character is one of the richest, if not the richest, character in the Marvel universe,” Joe explained. “She’s a very complex character. She’s haunted by demons and her understanding of the world is fascinating. I think there is a lot that can be done with that character.”
Right, but does that mean we’ll ever see that character in her own film? And does wanting to see that movie mean they’d actually direct it themselves? The Russos will have made four Marvel movies at the end of their ‘Infinity War’ run, and, like Joss Whedon before them, may want to move on (and they’ll pretty much have the cache to take and develop whatever they want). Regardless of what they think, the decision ultimately rests with Kevin Feige and the heads of Marvel. I would look to the performance of “Captain Marvel” in 2019, and how it does at the box office, as a barometer to see if Marvel would lead with another female superhero film, but fingers crossed, if only because a change of pace is nice. “Captain America: Civil War” wages its battle in May, and we’ll see how that effects where the ever-expanding ‘Avengers’ team goes from here.