“We are in the endgame now” is the pivotal line by Doctor Strange in Avengers: Infinity War. Indeed, we too are approaching the final stages of the massive saga that has lasted more than a decade. The question is, does that also ring true for the actors in the film?
Like the Marvel film series, the actors portraying these characters have gone through a long journey. Robert Downey Jr. (RDJ) has been portraying his titular character, Iron Man, for the longest time among the original cast. Even before Iron Man, RDJ was in the film industry for a long time, but back when he was cast, he was a relative unknown to most people. I couldn’t recognise him even though he was in Zodiac, a film I watched a year prior.
Suffice to say, that’s not the case today. Since Iron Man (2008), he has appeared in the Sherlock Holmes film series and Tropic Thunder (2008), where he was nominated for an Oscar.
The same can be said for Chris Hemsworth’s career, who portrays Thor. Hemsworth was an even more unknown actor, with only a few films under his belt. Like RDJ, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films have only benefited him, granting him access to big-name franchises like the Huntsman series and the Ghostbusters reboot.
It is a different story for Chris Evans (Captain America) though. In fact, audiences were already very familiar with him through his appearance in the Fantastic Four series. It was very hard to picture him as the stoic and righteous Captain America when all people saw was his brash and cocky personality which he cultivated in his turn as Johnny Blaze.
The audiences were proven wrong, of course, with a majority of people unable to envision a different actor to take over the Captain America mantle. Curiously, it seems he can’t shake off the mantle even if he wanted to. With the exception of Snowpiercer, he has not appeared in many notable films after his introduction to the MCU.
Scarlett Johansson still maintains the consistency she had in her career since her debut in Iron Man 2 (2010). She has been universally loved as a child actress in films like Home Alone 3 (1997) and The Horse Whisperer (1998), and her adult roles in films like Lost in Translation (2003) earned her the “Best Actress in a Leading Role” title in 2003’s British Academy Film Awards.
The actress has gone from strength to strength, appearing in blockbusters like Ghost in the Shell (2017), as well as Under the Skin (2013), which were exceptional roles even before her MCU debut.
Mark Ruffalo (Hulk) is possibly the most successful out of the original Avengers line-up. Before Avengers (2012), he was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in The Kids Are Alright (2010). He continues to garner acclaim, such as his performance in Foxcatcher (2014), where he again was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
These are the actors who have lasted the longest in the perennial franchise. Avengers: Endgame has consistently teased that this would be the finale of the saga. Being that these actors have been the pivotal cogs of the saga, it could likely mean the end of their involvement within the franchise.
So what could be next for these actors? The answer is clear for some, while others, not so much. Rumblings of a Black Widow movie were heard way before when the saga was still in its infancy. Now it’s all but confirmed, with reports of multiple stars entering negotiations to be in the film; thereby confirming Johansson’s continued presence in the universe.
The fate of Chris Evans is also quite clear. He recently wrapped up his involvement with the franchise with an emotional tweet, thanking everybody for the memories he made throughout the eight years. While not exactly confirming his exit, the wording does suggest his involvement is done.
Officially wrapped on Avengers 4. It was an emotional day to say the least. Playing this role over the last 8 years has been an honor. To everyone in front of the camera, behind the camera, and in the audience, thank you for the memories! Eternally grateful.— Chris Evans (@ChrisEvans) October 4, 2018
Whether or not his exit will serve him well in his film career remains to be seen. For now, he is not distancing himself from people involved in huge franchises – his next movie will have him starring in a film by Rian Johnson, director of Star Wars Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.
Ruffalo and Hemsworth are the real mysteries. Ruffalo possibly might not stay on. Being the least used character on the roster, Marvel might not see fit to continue using his character, paving the way for his departure.
Hemsworth, too, was frustrated with his role as Thor in the early stages of the saga. But the critical and commercial appeal of Thor: Ragnarok has brought back the magic. It’s more than likely, he will stay in the franchise.
Of course, we can’t see the future. Marvel has an extensive plan after Endgame, starting its Phase 4 soon after Spider-Man: Far from Home is released. But soon, we might get answers to the future of these actors.
Visuals courtesy of The Walt Disney Company (Southeast Asia) Pte. Limited and Marvel Studios