It looks like Marvel Studios has changed its approach to their actor’s contractual obligations. In the early days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, some actors would be signed up to six or even nine films, which was long rumored to be the case with Samuel L. Jackson and Sebastian Stan. Since Avengers: Endgame released, we’ve seen many long-time Marvel actors leave the franchisee.
There are many hints that Black Widow will be the last time we see Scarlett Johnasson on-screen as Natasha Romanoff. We have seen exceptions, such as many of the MCU actors lending their voices to the upcoming What If series. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige discussed their new approach after acknowledging the earlier contracts in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
It varies, project to project, cast to cast. Really, what we want are people that come in, are excited to be in the universe, are excited at the opportunity to do more things, as opposed to being locked into contractual obligations.
We’ve seen in the past that many of the franchise’s actors are open to returning even for minor roles. There have been times where these even led to actors having a bad experience with the studio, such as Idris Elba openly stating not wanting to return as Heimdall in Thor: The Dark World. Luckily, Thor: Ragnarok seemed to change his mind on the matter as he had fun filming it. Still, the new approach is a showcase that they want to build long-term relationships with actors in a way that doesn’t restrict them either.
We’ve seen that flexibility more and more, such as adapting their schedules to allow James Gunn to finish his Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy. There was even mention of contracts being set up for “theme park attractions,” which might hint at the voice-acting roles they have done to bring some of their beloved characters to life in various rides or videos in Disney’s theme parks. So, it’s a clear sign that Marvel Studios has continued to expand since the early days o a small studio risking it all on a C-list character.