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Why We Haven't Seen Keanu Reeves In The MCU Yet

Over the years, Marvel has populated its superhero-filled cinematic universe with an extraordinarily talented cast, including an impressive roster of Oscar winners and nominees. Long gone are the days when Marvel had to attempt to save money by casting no-name actors to lead its films. Now, the studio seems to have its pick of A-list stars every time a new film is announced, but there's one big fish that Marvel has yet to reel in.

Talking to ComicBook.com, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said that they approach John Wick actor Keanu Reeves for "nearly every film [they] make," but that they have yet to land on the perfect MCU role for him. "I don't know when, if, or ever he'll join the MCU," Feige said, "but we very much want to figure out the right way to do it." 

Neither Feige nor Reeves have elaborated on the reasons why they're having such a hard time connecting on a role, but we can make a few more-or-less educated guesses. Below, we speculate on a few of the reasons why we haven't seen Keanu Reeves in the MCU yet, and which roles might finally get him to say yes.

Reeves may be wary of the MCU's notoriously long contracts

Marvel likes to lock their lead actors into hefty multi-picture deals, ranging from Chadwick Boseman's reported five-film contract on the low end to Sebastian Stan's whopping nine-movie deal. While a Marvel contract comes with a lot of perks — not the least of which is starring in the highest-grossing movie franchise of all time — there's no denying that agreeing to film half a dozen movies definitely cuts down on the number of other projects its actors can take on. 

Other actors like John Krasinski and Emily Blunt have previously talked about the projects they wouldn't have been able to make if they'd taken a role in the MCU, and it's possible that Reeves has been keeping this in mind whenever Marvel approaches him about a role. Perhaps Reeves' reluctance to join the MCU is less about what Marvel is offering him, and more about the roles and opportunities he could be giving up.

He might not be a fan of Marvel's strict rules about stunts

Due to Marvel's interwoven storytelling structure and demanding production schedule, the studio isn't eager to take any risks when it comes to its stars. Not only could injury-induced production delays throw their entire multi-year plan off track, but the cost of insuring its A-list stars while they perform their own stunts would be astronomical. Because of this, Marvel actors are contractually prohibited from doing the bulk of their own stunt work. 

However, Reeves is known for doing most of his own stunts, and he may be turned off by Marvel's policy of severely limiting the stunts performed by their lead actors. Talking about John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, director (and former Reeves stunt double) Chad Stahelski told GQ, "If you've got an actor who can ride horses, ride motorcycles, do fight scenes, why not? I made a list of every skill Keanu has — we sat down and I said, 'Give me everything you can do really well.' And we put all that in the movies." Now that he's accustomed to action movies that play to his physical strengths and allow him to showcase his skills, it wouldn't be surprising if the idea of being sidelined while someone else performs his action scenes seems less than appealing. 

Plus, there's also the chance that Marvel has been offering him roles that aren't super physical. For example, Reeves may have made a great Collector, Everett K. Ross, or even Stephen Strange, but none of those roles would've tapped into the sort of physicality the actor is known for. Even if Marvel has offered him a great part, Reeves may be waiting for a role in which he can really shine in fight scenes. After all, it would be a bit of a letdown — both for the audience and for Reeves himself — if the actor known for doing 90 percent of his stunt work in ridiculously action-heavy franchises went on to do little more than stand still and wave his hands in the MCU.

He might be too busy making motorcycles

In 2011, when the MCU was really beginning to gain steam and was building toward the first Avengers movie, Keanu was starting the Arch Motorcycle Company with designer Gard Hollinger. Reeves has been a diehard motorcycle enthusiast for over three decades, with an extensive personal collection of much-loved bikes that he's carefully curated over the years. Arch allows him to feed his passion for motorcycles, creating custom high-end bikes that can carry price tags of over $120,000, and which Reeves is clearly tremendously proud of.  

Perhaps saying yes to the MCU would've eaten up the time that Reeves wanted to devote to getting his business up and running, or maybe it would've taken away from his ability to enjoy the fruits of his labors. Or it could be that, given a choice between riding motorcycles and Marvel's nervous clauses designed to protect its stars — which may have required him to take time away from his bikes — Reeves chose the motorcycles.

Reeves may be hesitant to commit to Marvel's demanding press junkets

MCU actors live under a constant, relentless microscope. In addition to starring in the movies themselves, they're expected to engage in extensive promotion for Marvel's films, answering the same questions over and over for a never-ending parade of journalists and talk show hosts. However, while Reeves is already an A-list star, the notoriously private and introverted actor may be daunted by the idea of just how many interviews and press tours come with an MCU gig.

"He's a loner. I'm a loner," actor Peter Stormare told GQ, before adding, "Keanu — they think he's putting on some kind of a fake face, when he's stuttering, giving interviews on the red carpet, and he looks away and looks uncomfortable. But he really is." Considering just how many red carpets Marvel actors have to walk, it's possible that Reeves has decided that being a part of the MCU just isn't worth being forced to spend so much time in the public eye. 

Keanu Reeves may enjoy having the freedom to pursue other interests

Keanu Reeves is a man of many interests and talents, and he's dabbled in a variety of professions throughout the years. Outside of acting and motorcycles, he's played bass in the band Dogstar, written and published books with artist Alexandra Grant (pictured above), and produced a number of films. While it's not unheard of for MCU actors to carve out time to pursue other endeavors — Hawkeye actor Jeremy Renner has a lucrative career flipping houses when he's not busy taking aim on screen, and Mark Ruffalo, who plays the Hulk/Bruce Banner, started a nonprofit aimed at combating climate change through providing renewable energy solutions — it can't be easy to balance outside interests with the strenuous demands of an MCU contract.  

With so many irons in the fire, Reeves may enjoy the freedom of not being locked into a multi-year Marvel contract. Even if he's still able to squeeze in his music, writing, producing, and motorcycle business around his superhero gig, the stress of juggling them all may make it difficult to enjoy any of them. Since enjoyment is pretty much the point of passion projects, it's easy to see why he wouldn't want to jeopardize his love of any of them with such a major obligation. 

An MCU role could've stood in the way of Bill & Ted 3

Although Bill & Ted Face the Music is currently filming, a third movie in the beloved '80s franchise has been on Reeves' to-do list for "a long time." Since at least 2010, Reeves has been talking about his hopes of making a Bill & Ted threequel, but the film has taken years to get off the ground. And even once the film looked as though it might finally move into production, it hasn't been without its bumps in the financing and creative rights departments.

With Bill & Ted 3 on such shaky ground, Reeves may have been reluctant to make a commitment to Marvel that would make the third installment in the excellent time-traveling adventure even harder to schedule. While Reeves keeps a pretty packed schedule even without squeezing in a superhero-sized role, Marvel has a tendency to fill up its actors' calendars, not leaving room for much else. If making Bill & Ted 3 was a high priority for him, it makes sense that he wouldn't have wanted to hand over such a large chunk of his time and energy to Marvel before it was finalized. That would've been bogus.

Keanu Reeves may need to finish the John Wick franchise first

No one expected the first John Wick film to spawn an entire franchise, least of all Keanu Reeves. When Reeves and Chad Stahelski were initially shopping around the script for the first film, they were told no by pretty much every studio in Hollywood, and they wound up making the movie on the relatively small budget of $20 million. Many of the artistic choices in John Wick, including the long takes and close-up combat, were made due to budget constraints, as the production couldn't afford multiple cameras or fancy editing. 

Yet despite low expectations, John Wick went on to be successful enough to justify two sequels, with another on the way. Reeves is not typically a franchise actor — with the exception of Toy Story 4, all of the films that he's worked on since the start of the MCU have been standalones — and John Wick wasn't intended to be any different. But considering the runaway success of the John Wick films and Reeves' ongoing involvement as the titular assassin, Reeves may not want to sign up for another major film franchise until he wraps up the accidental series he's already in. 

In fact, that's exactly why he turned down the part of Yon-Rogg in Captain Marvel, because he had to work on John Wick 3, instead. So the bad guy part went to Jude Law, and now we're all wondering what it would've been like to have seen Keanu Reeves fight Carol Danvers and her furry Flerken friend.

He may have been keeping the line open for a new Matrix sequel

In a surprising development that practically no one — except, apparently, Chad Stahelski — saw coming, Variety broke the story that 16 years after The Matrix: Revolutions seemingly concluded the Matrix trilogy, Reeves and co-star Carrie-Anne Moss would soon be reuniting with director Lana Wachowski to shoot a fourth Matrix film. This film will be helmed only by Lana, without her sister Lilly, with whom she co-directed the first three Matrix films. 

Rumors about a new Matrix movie have been swirling around for a few years, but most signs seemed to point to a reboot of the popular franchise centering a new character, not a sequel with the original cast. However, now that we know that Wachowski's script — which was co-written with Aleksandar Hemon and David Mitchell — will once again follow Reeves' and Moss' characters of Neo and Trinity, it makes sense that Reeves would want to keep his schedule open. With production now slated to ramp up in 2020, the new Matrix film will keep Reeves occupied well into Phase 4 of the MCU, which may explain why he hasn't been eager to jump on board the Marvel train just yet.

Marvel didn't have the rights to the X-Men

Keanu Reeves has always been a big fan of comic books, and he told MTV that he was particularly into Frank Miller's work, namely The Dark Knight Returns and The Wolverine. While The Dark Knight Returns isn't a Marvel storyline, and therefore wouldn't have anything to do with the MCU, Wolverine has been one of Marvel's central characters for decades. However, due to Marvel selling the rights to the X-Men to Fox in the '90s, mutants have never appeared in the MCU, but that may be about to change with Disney's recent acquisition of Fox. Kevin Feige recently teased at San Diego Comic Con that mutants were on the horizon for the MCU, which may be exactly what Reeves has been waiting for. 

"I always wanted to play Wolverine," Reeves mused to MTV. "I missed that one. They got a great Wolverine." Reeves was referring to Hugh Jackman, who played the character from 2000's X-Men to 2017's Logan, but with mutants now headed to the MCU, Reeves may finally get his chance to sport a set of adamantium claws. So perhaps the reason he keeps saying no to Marvel is because he was biding his time until he could finally play a mutant.

Maybe he's holding out for a specific MCU role

Even if Reeves hasn't been waiting for mutants to arrive in the MCU, he may still have his eye on a specific character. There are a number of non-X-Men Marvel characters who haven't yet entered the MCU, and Reeves would be well suited to several of them. Adam Warlock, the perfect being teased at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 could be a good fit for Reeves, who's often rumored to be perfect himself. Another option might be Reed Richards, a.k.a. Mr. Fantastic, the leader of the Fantastic Four who can stretch his limbs like silly putty. Disney recently reclaimed the Fantastic Four from Fox, and with Tony Stark gone after the events of Avengers: Endgame, the MCU has room for a new brilliant scientist hero. 

Along with the Fantastic Four comes the alien antagonist-turned-ally Silver Surfer, who could also be a prime role for Reeves, calling back to his iconic part in Point Break. Or maybe Reeves wants to play Ghost Rider, a character that he's always been a fan of and one that would allow him to bring his love of motorcycles to the MCU. The character was already introduced in the TV series Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which is ostensibly part of the MCU, but we wouldn't be surprised if the character was recast for the big screen — especially if Marvel could pull in an actor of Reeves' caliber to play him.

Keanu Reeves is already a superhero

Frankly, the MCU may simply not have anything to offer Keanu Reeves, who's already one of the most beloved actors in Hollywood, cares very little about money, and is by all accounts a genuinely good person who goes out of his way to make the world a better place for others. Acting in the MCU can give a huge boost to an actor's career, catapulting them from relative unknowns to some of the most sought-after names in Hollywood practically overnight. But for an actor like Reeves — who's not only already a household name but is currently making the films he wants to make and pursuing the projects that interest him — that may not be much of an incentive to sign up for such a massive obligation.

Similarly, Reeves doesn't need the MCU to endear him to fans who already love him. Marvel actors are expected to act heroically, both off and on the big screen, but Reeves doesn't need a studio contract to prompt him to be generous and kind, and he's consistently reported to be among the nicest people anyone could ever have the pleasure of meeting. With all that going for him, he may simply not need to go play a fictional superhero, since he already is one in real life.