The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a long-haul project. With so many characters and actors to keep around, Marvel Studios has been known to have massive contracts designed to keep characters available.
As the first arc of the MCU wraps up, Marvel has learned from their past actions. As such, Marvel Studios will no longer sign massive decade-long deals like they did before.
Marvel Studios contracts have changed
In the early days of the MCU, actors were locked into long-running contractual obligations. Famously, Captain America actor Chris Evans signed on for six movies; Nick Fury actor Samuel Jackson signed on for nine.
Of course, Chris Evans ended up being in more than six movies in the long run. The actor starred in nine movies: three Captain America films, four Avengers movies and two cameos – Thor 2 and Spider-Man Homecoming.
While some actors didn't choose to renew their contracts, like Chris Evans, Marvel Studios is choosing to move away from them anyways. Instead of locking actors into a specific number of projects, the MCU is becoming more free-form.
How MCU casting works now
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Marvel boss Kevin Feige explained that Marvel is rapidly changing. While earlier contracts “got a lot of attention", they weren't as free as they should've been to actors and Marvel.
As the MCU expands outwards, the new contracts are less restrictive while also giving actors new opportunities. For example, new MCU actors also get new benefits like “theme park attractions”. According to Feige, the new talent is “excited at the opportunity to do more things".
On the topic of the new contracts, Feige explained:
“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.”
Kevin Feige is still vague regarding the nature of Marvel Studios contracts. It’s not known if massively important MCU characters, like the upcoming Fantastic Four, will still be grabbed in contractual deals. However, with the scale of the MCU as it is now, Marvel shouldn't really have to worry about its future plans.