Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has outlined a new strategy for hiring and maintaining actors in the MCU.
During a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Feige explained that Marvel is moving away from the massive, multi-movie deals it once offered to its stars. Instead, he hinted that the talent will stay on board and return for additional projects if they're enthusiastic about the universe they've become a part of, without needing an expansive contract.
"It varies, project to project, cast to cast," Feige explained, reflecting on the sweeping talent deals previously inked by the likes of Chris Evans and Samuel L. Jackson. "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."
Scarlett Johansson has returned to the MCU to headline her own movie, starring as Natasha Romanoff in Marvel Phase 4's Black Widow, set to simultaneously debut in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access July 9. She's joined by a host of MCU newcomers, including Florence Pugh as Yelena, David Harbour as Alexei/Red Guardian, and Rachel Weisz as Melina.
Pugh is playing Natasha's sister, Yelena Belova, in her much-awaited superhero debut. The actress previously spoke about her prospective future in the MCU and whether she could step forward to headline a potential Black Widow sequel, given that her character will be retroactively set up as the new Black Widow when the movie premieres.
"If you get asked to be in a Marvel film, and it was so thrilling and fun and exciting to be in, then of course, your head goes: 'Oh my God. If this is what it's like, then what else is next?'" she said. "If that happens and I am lucky enough that people appreciate my character, that's an exciting road to go on. I would be silly to not be excited by it."
Marvel's Black Widow: Every Actor and Character in the Film
Taking place between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, when Natasha was a wanted fugitive, Black Widow will give the Avenger her posthumous due, with a story that deals with Natasha's history as a spy and assassin, and the broken relationships left in her wake before she became one of Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
Feige has already hinted that more prequel movies like Black Widow could be "in the cards" for other MCU characters. He explained that "the notion of exploring the past, present, and future of the MCU" is a possibility for other characters, though he also recognized that Black Widow's "particular story of this particular cast is very personal, very specific to Natasha."
Black Widow is the very first MCU movie in Phase 4. It will be followed by Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings in September, Eternals in November, and Spider-Man: No Way Home in December. After that, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will be the next movie to appear on the MCU Phase 4 slate, serving as the first Marvel flick of 2022.
Adele Ankers is a freelance writer for IGN. Follow her on Twitter.