It is hard to keep track of just how long the likes of Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and Chris Hemsworth are contracted to Marvel. But from the sound of things, we don't have to worry too much about new actors portraying Iron Man, Captain America, or Thor anytime soon, because Kevin Feige has insisted that each actor is signed up for several more movies, while at the same time teasing that there's a plan in place for when they do have to replace these actors.
Luckily we don't have to make that decision anytime soon. There are a lot of movies that everyone is signed on for, and we get to enjoy them for a long time. Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man, and right now I can't envision anyone else. Chris Evans has embodied Captain America as well as any actor has ever embodied an iconic pop-culture figure like that. I go back to Chris Reeve as Superman as the gold standard, and I think Evans is right there. I couldn't imagine anybody else. But you also look to history: We have a new Spider-Man right now who was in our Civil War film and is in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and the audience has embraced it. And you can look to Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, and Batman as characters that last longer than any one actor playing them. There's a precedent for it in other franchises that suggests it's possible. But right now I don't want to think about it and don't need to think about it.
Kevin Feige's comments suggest that there isn't anything on the horizon that will rock the Marvel boat, which over the last eight years has seen the studio's 14 films gross more than $10 billion across the world. Kevin Feige and his Marvel cohorts have done a sensational job of evolving the Marvel Cinematic Universe, bringing in the likes of the Guardians Of The Galaxy, Ant-Man, and most recently Doctor Strange to join Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America, all while the studio's popularity goes from strength to strength.
But Kevin Feige and Marvel's biggest task will come when trying to match the success of The Avengers and Captain America: Civil War without the presence of either Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans, who have not just embodied their respective characters iconically, but have also injected them with a humor, morality, and relatability that audiences have chimed so passionately with.
Sure, Kevin Feige is right that Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, and Batman have managed to maintain a popularity that transcends the actors who portray them. However they were all part of their own singular universe. Tom Holland's Spider-Man palling up a different Iron Man or Captain America is going to take some getting used to, and the movie industry is so fickle that one bad move could lead to the entire universe imploding. That's obviously a worst case scenario, but it's probably going to be a bit more complicated than Kevin Feige alluded to in his comments. Thankfully, Feige clearly has a bit of time to figure out the right move, while he's also shown quite a knack for steering the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the right direction.