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Here's How Long These Actors Want To Continue Their MCU Roles For

As amazing as it would be to have our favorite MCU stars stick around in the universe forever, we know it's just not meant to be — or even plausible. Several actors are already done with their Marvel characters, and aren't suspected to show up in the future, although we know that anything is possible with superhero flicks.

Some actors have been in the MCU for a decade or more, including Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Don Cheadle, Samuel L. Jackson, and Scarlett Johansson. These stars have managed to show up in multiple MCU projects while juggling other films and their personal lives. We're lucky to have gotten them for as long as we have, and whether they ever truly retire is a decision all their own.

There is hope, however, that some of our favorite "retired" and current MCU stars stay around, and many have expressed interest in playing their role forever. While it's ultimately up to the powers-that-be at Marvel — ahem, Kevin Feige — some actors have made it clear how long they would like to stay in the MCU if the hat man himself lets them.

Let's take a look at some of the biggest MCU names who have commented about their love for their characters and how long they want to stick around for.

Robert Downey Jr. -- Iron Man

Yes, we know, Iron Man is dead. If there's anything we've learned about superhero films, it's that no one is actually ever really dead, and there's always a way to bring someone back. Whether it be a flashback, or in an alternate reality or timeline, there are ways we can see Robert Downey Jr. show up as Tony Stark in the MCU's future. As it turns out, he's not so opposed to the idea either.

In February 2021, the actor caught up with GQ to dish on his young protégé Tom Holland, but the interview inevitably turned to his future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. When asked about returning to the character, Downey replied, "Never say never," getting the hopes up of millions of fans around the globe. "I have alighted, for now. Real world to save," he continued.

In 2017, Downey told news.com.au that he didn't want to stay in the MCU much longer, saying, "I just want to hang up my jersey before it's embarrassing." Four years later, it looks like he might be taking that statement back by suggesting he wouldn't necessarily say no to suiting up as Iron Man again.

Chris Evans -- Captain America

Chris Evans, much like pal Robert Downey Jr., appears to be done playing Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America and hasn't expressed much interest in showing up in the MCU again after Avengers: Endgame. Steve's story rounded out so nicely and he got the happy ending he wanted with Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), which was ultra-satisfying to Evans.

The actor has been wishy-washy in his interviews over the last several years regarding coming back to the MCU and while he has stated that he doesn't want to play the character forever, he has admitted that in order to come back it would have to be for the right reasons.

"If you're going to revisit it, it can't be a cash grab. It can't be just because the audience wants to be excited. What are we revealing? What are we adding to the story? A lot of things would have to come together," he told buddy Scarlett Johansson in Variety's Actors on Actors interview in 2019. Evan's hasn't given a hard "no" to reprising his role of Captain America, and it's even been suggested by Deadline that he's signed on for two more projects — a rumor the actor himself seemingly shut down on Twitter.

Whether he's definitely coming back or not, we know Evans isn't necessarily against playing the famous role again.

Chris Hemsworth -- Thor

Someone who has not been shy about his desire to stay in the MCU is Chris Hemsworth. The actor has been playing Thor since 2011, and if it were up to him the ride would never end. Hemsworth is the only MCU star with a fourth solo film in the works, and if he has anything to say about it, it won't be his last.

In an interview with This Morning in 2019, Hemsworth was asked if he would be open to returning to the MCU. "I'd play this character for as long as anyone would let me...I've loved it so much," he noted. This was before Thor: Love and Thunder was announced, but we're happy to know that he is open to playing Thor even after that film lands in theaters in 2022.

Hemsworth also told Elle Man (via CinemaBlend) in 2020 that he has no plans to retire Thor after his fourth solo film. "I'm not going into any retirement period (laughs). Thor is far too young for that. (He) is only 1500 years old! It is definitely not a film that I say goodbye to this brand. At least I hope so," he said.

Benedict Cumberbatch -- Doctor Strange

Benedict Cumberbatch may not have as many appearances under his belt as co-stars like Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Hemsworth, but his character Doctor Strange will play a major part in the MCU going forward. Thankfully, Cumberbatch is excited about getting to continue to play Stephen Strange and wants to keep doing so for a long time.

When speaking with Deadline back in 2018, right after Avengers: Infinity War landed in theaters, he was asked about playing Doctor Strange in the future, to which he replied, "Just try to stop me." He added that he "would love to go back into that role." After helping to save the day in Avengers: Endgame, he'll return in Spider-Man: No Way Home later this year and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in 2022 — and hopefully long after, especially since the actor doesn't want to be stopped from playing the character he loves so much.

Tom Holland -- Spider-Man

Tom Holland came slinging into our lives as Spider-Man in 2016's Captain America: Civil War, followed by two solo and two Avengers films. He'll complete his trilogy with Spider-Man: No Way Home, due at the end of 2021, which also ends his contract with Marvel Studios.

No need to worry though, as Holland is planning on staying in the MCU for as long as they'll let him. Contracts are extended all the time, and the actor is ready to sign on the line. When catching up with Collider in early 2021, he made sure to note that he wanted to don the red suit for as long as possible.

"I've always said to them if they want me back I'll be there in a heartbeat," Holland said. "I've loved every minute of being a part of this amazing world. It's changed my life for the better, I'm so lucky to be here. If they want me back I'll be there, if they don't I will walk off into the sunset a very, very happy person because it's been an amazing journey." Let's just hope that Holland doesn't take that walk for a very, very long time.

Jeremy Renner -- Hawkeye

Clint Barton has been with the MCU for quite some time now and has outlasted countless foes despite only using a bow and arrow. Despite his lengthy stay with Marvel, he's actually only had a major role in four films and one small cameo in Thor. He will star in his own Disney+ series, Hawkeye, which is set to come out at the end of 2021, but Renner might be done with his character after that.

Back in 2017, the actor was asked by the South China Morning Post about a potential Hawkeye movie. While he expressed excitement and optimism about the possibility, he said he would want it to happen sooner rather than later because "I don't want to be in my 50s in tights," he admitted.

At the time of this publication, Renner is 50 years old, suggesting his Hawkeye series really might be his last go as Clint Barton... unless the costume designers at Marvel can come up with something a little less clingy.

Anthony Mackie -- Falcon

We first met Sam Wilson in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and he instantly won over our hearts thanks to a brilliant portrayal by Anthony Mackie. Sam has five major MCU appearances — in addition to one small Ant-Man cameo — and his own Disney+ series (The Falcon and The Winter Soldier). We're not sure if we'll see more Falcon after the six-episode show concludes, but Mackie would definitely be happy to keep playing Sam for the next few years.

In a digital press event for FaWS for which Looper was present, Mackie revealed that he would love to appear somewhere in the upcoming Blade film, even if it was just one line. The Mahershala Ali-led film is at least a few years out, so we know Mackie would be thrilled to extend the life of his MCU career to get to that point. He also said he would love to pop up in the She-Hulk series, which is set to land on Disney+ in 2022.

Paul Bettany -- Vision

Paul Bettany has portrayed Vision for three MCU films and one Disney+ series, and fans have fallen in love with the synthezoid. Bettany has as well and is adamant about playing the character for as long as Kevin Feige will let him.

In a March 2021 interview with Esquire, Bettany was asked if he was going to play Vision forever. "I love Vision. Yes, I'm in," he said. He also recalled being scared that he was going to get fired after Avengers: Endgame, and was delighted when the idea of WandaVision had been brought to him.

We likely haven't seen the last of Vision either, if the finale of WandaVision is any indication. White Vision is currently on the loose, with the original's memories but not the same personality. We'd be shocked to never see him again in the MCU and are hoping Bettany really does get to play the multi-dimensional character again.

Don Cheadle -- War Machine

Colonel James Rhodes has been in the MCU since Day 1, appearing in Iron Man as Tony Stark's best friend. The role was originally held by Terrence Howard, but he left the franchise after a pay dispute. Don Cheadle replaced the actor in Iron Man 2, making him one of the longest-tenured actors in the MCU. Rhodey has mostly been a supporting character for the last 11 years, but he will finally get his chance to shine in his own Disney+ series, Armor Wars, which is currently without a release date.

During a press tour in 2020 (via CBR), Cheadle mentioned wanting to see Rhodey do different things in the future: "I'd really want to dig into him and maybe even find something that felt closer to the first Iron Man for who he was." As to what Marvel Studios could do with the character moving forward he added, "I think they can go anywhere with him now."

Cheadle's excitement to delve into another side of Rhodey as War Machine proves he's not ready to give up the iron suit just yet.

Mark Ruffalo -- Hulk

Just like Don Cheadle, Mark Ruffalo almost wasn't in the MCU. The Golden Globe winner took on the role of Bruce Banner a.k.a. The Hulk in 2012's The Avengers, after Edward Norton stepped away following 2008's The Incredible Hulk. In a 2020 interview with Variety, Ruffalo noted how shocked and lucky he is that he gets to play the big green hero, and constantly reminds himself of that when he's shooting a Marvel film. After admitting that he can sometimes get annoyed on set when things are taking too long to set up, he revealed that he'll say to himself, "Hey, remember you're not even supposed to be here." He added that he's afraid that his bosses are "going to throw me out of the club. I never belonged here in the first place and they're all going to find out." 

It looks like Ruffalo doesn't want to get kicked out of the MCU, suggesting he'd love to play Banner for as long as they'll let him. We know he's not done yet with the character either, as he's confirmed to appear in the Disney+ series She-Hulk.

Chris Pratt -- Star Lord

Another MCU star who doesn't plan on going anywhere anytime soon is Star-Lord himself, Chris Pratt. The Guardians of the Galaxy star is slated to appear in at least two more MCU films that we know of, Thor: Love and Thunder in 2022 and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in 2023. Pratt has mentioned that contracts don't matter to him when it comes to his relationship with Marvel, because he's going to work his way into any project he can after his contract expires.

"I'll tell you, as much as I love Marvel, it doesn't matter how many I have contracted because I'm going to continue to work with them," he said in a 2017 interview with Slashfilm.

It doesn't matter if Kevin Feige shows up at Pratt's door and tells him that they no longer need him in the MCU moving forward. Those are all just words as far as the actor is concerned.

"I love working with them and I'm going to continue to work with them whether they like it or not," the actor told the outlet. "Even if they write me out, I'm going to show up on set and be like, 'Hey, man!' They're done. They don't get to shake me."

Gwyneth Paltrow -- Pepper Potts

When it comes to "most appearances in MCU films," you can put Gwyneth Paltrow toward the top of the list with seven. Pepper Potts has been in every Iron Man film, as well as Spider-Man: Homecoming and three out of four Avengers flicks, but had relatively minor roles for her last several appearances. It turns out this is just how she likes it and she isn't too crazy about spending a lot of time on movie sets anymore.

When it comes to the MCU, however, Paltrow said she would be happy to show up to work on a future project, just as long as it only took a few days. Speaking with People in early 2021, the actress said she would "of course" be open to returning to the MCU. "I think if it was a small part that I could do in like a day or two," she added. It looks like we can always count on the Oscar-winner appearing in the MCU, as long as she doesn't have to put in the crazy hours like she did so many times in her past.

Tessa Thompson -- Valkyrie

One of the newer heroes in the MCU, Valkyrie, has proven herself a force to be reckoned with. With just two Marvel Studios films under her belt, actress Tessa Thompson has a lot she wants to prove in the Marvel franchise. She will appear in the fourth Thor flick due out in 2022, but she wants to stick around as long as possible to hopefully land in an all-female team-up adventure.

When she was just starting out with the MCU in 2017, Thompson said at a press event (via Collider) that she asked Kevin Feige about making an all-female movie at the studio, and he apparently told her yes. It's now four years later and we still have no confirmation of one, but Thompson seems like she wants to stick with the MCU until it happens.

She told CinemaBlend in 2019 that "there's so many incredible, talented women in the MCU that I just want to work with selfishly." Keep fighting the good fight, Valkyrie, because we'd all love to see it too.

Samuel L. Jackson -- Nick Fury

No one has more appearances in the MCU than Mr. Samuel L. Jackson. The legendary actor appeared in the first Iron Man film's end credits and has been popping up in movie after movie ever since. Jackson has shown up in 11 of 23 MCU films — a healthy mix of supporting roles and cameos.

One of the older actors in the MCU, Jackson isn't going to let age affect him moving forward. When speaking with The Hollywood Reporter in 2019, Jackson said he would be happy to play Nick Fury in his 80s, saying, "I could be the Alec Guinness of Marvel movies."

He isn't going anywhere either, as he will also be getting his own Disney+ series – Secret Invasion – but whether he shows up in the MCU anywhere else remains to be seen. It would be hard to imagine a world where Fury didn't pop up in someone's post-credits scene every now and again.

Cobie Smulders -- Maria Hill

How I Met Your Mother alum Cobie Smulders joined the MCU in 2012 for The Avengers as Nick Fury's right hand agent. She popped up again in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Spider-Man: Far From Home, and in the post-credits scene of Avengers: Infinity War in addition to a small Avengers: Endgame cameo. While she doesn't have the same MCU resume as other actors on our list, she definitely has the same amount of passion as they do.

When asked by The Hollywood Reporter in 2019 if she'd want to play Agent Maria Hill for the rest of her life, the actress said, "I would love to!" She continued, "I love being a part of the world of Marvel. It's a magical, wonderful place filled with only nice, caring, considerate, creative people." She added that she has no clue what's in store for the MCU or her character, but at least we can count on Cobie to show up whenever she gets the call!