One thing fans have come to expect with the release of Avengers: Endgame is the demise of Tony Start, Steve Rogers, and Thor. All three actors (Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth) are at the end of their contracts with the studio and are expected to leave their respective franchises.
It’s led to the common question: who will take over?
Many expect that other characters will take up the names of Iron Man and Captain America (Thor is a different subject). In the comic, James Rhodes and Riri Williams have both worn the Iron Man armor in the comics, while James “Bucky” Barnes, Frank Castle, and Sam Wilson took over for Captain America.
(The only real time Thor was replaced in the comics was by Jane Foster. The issue with the movies doing this is Natalie Portman is on record that she’s done with the MCU)
While it might be interesting to see War Machine or Falcon take over the friends, there is another option.
Re-cast the characters.
The characters should be bigger than the actors. I know that RDJ is iconic as Iron Man; so was Sean Connery with James Bond. Yet, Bond has been 5 other actors. Warner Brothers and the Distinguished Competition used 3 different versions of Batman in their first run of the movie franchise without acknowledging the change. The Griswald kids changed with every movie; it got to the point where it was a punchline in Vegas Vacation.
Re-casting wouldn’t be a new thing in the MCU either; both Bruce Banner and Rhodes have been recast without acknowledging the change. Both characters were better for it (no offense to Terrance Howard and/or Edward Norton). Less noticeable was the change of Fandral, one of the Warriors Three from Thor. Joshua Dallas played him in the original Thor, while Zachary Levi (Shazam, Chuck) played him in the Dark World and Ragnarok. The MCU also replaced Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull when he didn’t want to return as the character; Ross Marquand played the character in Avengers: Infinity War.
This shouldn’t be a radical idea, especially coming from the world of comics. No one complains when a new artist takes over a book and tweaks the appearance of the characters. You can have the design of a character change 2-3 times a year depend on who is drawing it.
Using one of the other characters to take over the mantle of Iron Man and Cap is fine; Sam Wilson: Captain America is a very good comic. They could make some really good movies. I think it’s a little premature to go this route though. There are still a ton of stories that can come from Steve Rogers as Captain America.
Will there be complaints of re-casting? Of course, but the true fans will get past it as long as it’s a good story and the new actor does a good job.
To pull off re-casting, I’d put the characters on the shelf for a while. There are plenty of established and unused characters for the MCU to move forward with. We already know that we’re getting sequels to Black Panther and Doctor Strange. We know we’re getting Black Widow and Shang Chi: Master of Kung Fu. We also know that the X-Men and Fantastic Four are coming; these 2 franchises will allow the MCU to set the Avengers to the side for a little bit.
The Fox/Marvel characters will bring their own issues, including re-casting; specifically Wolverine, who needs a new actor after Hugh Jackman announced his retirement from the character, and Deadpool, who has a very capable Ryan Reynolds wanting to stay with the character. The Fantastic Four brings the baggage of 2 failed attempts of creating Marvel’s first family over 3 movies. The X-Men have been hit or miss for the quality of their movies; while X-Men 1 and 2 and X-Men: The First Class were very good movies, X-Men 3, X-Men: Apocalypse, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine were probably some of the worst comic book movies made. Fortunately, MCU has a better track record than Fox has.
If there is one thing I have faith in, it’s Kevin Fiege and Marvel Studios. There have been very few misses in the last 11 years and they’ll continue to move the MCU in the right direction, be it with new Iron Man/Captain America or existing characters taking over those mantles.