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Will Anthony Mackie replace Chris Evans as Marvel's cinematic Captain America?

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Steve Rogers will no longer be physically able to perform his role as Captain America and will seek a permanent successor now that he has lost his super soldier serum powers and reverted to an old man. This of course is the new status quo in the Marvel comics, but one has to wonder if this is the path the ever so successful Marvel cinematic universe is headed too.

The on-screen Captain America has been portrayed by actor Chris Evans for past three films the character has appeared in: "Captain America: The First Avenger," "The Avengers," and "Captain America: The Winter Solider." Evans had signed a six movie contract with Marvel Studios in 2011 which means he contractually has to star in two more films as the shield wielding Avenger after "Avengers: Age of Ultron." He has made it known in recent years that after his contract ends, he would like to pursue other endeavors mainly directing now that his name has merit and opportunities are arising for the star.

In an interview with "Variety" Chris Evans talked about his contractual status.

Initially, it was a nine-movie contract. And they said, if these movies take off and do very well, and my life changes and I don’t respond well, I don’t have the opportunity to say, listen, I need a f–king break. That just scared me.

They called back and they tweaked the deal. It went from nine [films] to six. I said no again. My family was even going, ‘Are you sure you’re making the right decisions?’ It started to feel like maybe this is what I’m supposed to do.

Evans continues on about his future in the industry

I’ve known for a while I wanted to direct. But (time) never really opens up. There’s another movie to do, there’s another acting job. It just got to a point where I was like, you know what — I have to do this… If I’m acting at all, it’s going to be under Marvel contract, or I’m going to be directing. I can’t see myself pursuing acting strictly outside of what I’m contractually obligated to do.

We can do this out loud. [Avengers 2] will shoot till August. I wouldn’t be surprised if for all of 2015, we didn’t do a movie. I bet by 2017, I’ll be done.

While that may be a dagger to the hearts of Marvel fans, one can hardly blame the actor for wanting to pursue other opportunities. For an actor to be tied down contractually for seven years is unheard of in modern Hollywood. Long gone are the days where directors and actors sign exclusive contracts with studios. Everyone is effectively a freelance no matter how big their name is in lights.

So what's next for the Marvel cinematic universe once the contract of Evans is up?

Of course Chris Evans could always have a change of heart and resign with the studio. Popular consensus however is that they will incorporate a storyline to pass the mantle of the Captain to Sebastain Stan's Bucky Barnes who is contracted for nine films. He's appeared in two Marvel films, leaving seven more appearances for his character which is plenty to establish him as a new Captain America.

Now here comes the next mind-blowing theory. What if Marvel Studios knowingly planned to have Anthony Mackie, the actor who portrayed Falcon in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," replace Evans as Captain America all along?

In the comics, Bucky Barnes had his time with the shield but Marvel has now apparently handed the reins over to Samuel Wilson. We all know how much Marvel loves to utilize synergy between current comic arcs and their cinematic universe. The goal is to lure non-comic readers to begin reading comics by incorporating stories similar or continuing from the movies they just saw. Since Falcon will now wield the shield in the comics, it isn't out of the realm of possibility that he will also carry the shield in the cinematic version.

Anthony Mackie was a hit as Wilson in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." Producers in the cinematic universe may have known of the comic plans years before production of the film franchise with a cinematic version plotted to roughly follow this path as well.

According to the math, Chris Evans will appear in Captain America 3 and Avengers 3 to complete his contractual obligations. Captain America 3 could very well be a film that focuses on the reforming of the now un-brainwashed Bucky Barnes. With the growing amount of heroes incorporated into the cinematic universe, Avengers 3 could see a Civil War storyline play out with Evans' Captain America killed.

The twist for the cinematic universe could be for Falcon to take over the role of Captain America while Barnes moves to a spy leader oriented role similar to the Captain Rogers persona Steve Rogers took on after he returned.

The possibilities are out there and with every Marvel film released, the cinematic universe continues to shape and flesh out. These are very exciting times to be a Marvel comic fan.

Do you think the shield will be passed to a successor in the cinematic universe? If you do, who do you think will get it? Let me know in the comments below and on Twitter!

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