Marvel Contract Has Ended, Actor Confirms Abrupt Franchise Exit

in Marvel

L-R: Ava Starr/Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne), Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), and Hope van Dyne/Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) exiting a building in 'Ant-Man and the Wasp' (2018)

Credit: Marvel Studios

It seems like one Marvel franchise may be over for good, with one Ant-Man actor confirming that they’re no longer under contract at the studio.

Marvel may have produced the (temporarily) highest-grossing film of all time in 2019 with Avengers: Endgame, but the studio’s efforts in the past few years have been anything but fruitful.

Avengers Endgame characters running in (left to right), M'Baku, Hulk, Captain America, Korg, Thor
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: Chris Hemsworth Knows Why ‘Ant-Man 3’ Flopped

With the exception of the odd hit – such as Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) – Marvel has struggled to pull in the big bucks quite like the days of the Infinity Saga. Last year, two projects qualified as box-office bombs, with The Marvels (2023) gaining the unwanted title of the studio’s biggest flop ever.

Just months earlier, another film briefly held that title. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023) was derided by fans and critics alike upon its release, with the CGI and script generating particular ire. It also earned Marvel Studios its first-ever Razzie nominations (four, to be precise).

Wasp and Ant-Man looking scared and hurt in the Quantum Realm
Credit: Marvel Studios

Since then, Disney CEO Bob Iger has reinforced Disney and Marvel’s new ethos of focus on quality over quantity. Iger also confirmed that the studio would focus on its stronger superheroes, something many took as a slight on the Ant-Man franchise, which has never been one of Disney’s biggest earners.

Case in point: all three films combined took home $1.6 billion worldwide, which shadows in comparison to the trilogy totals for Iron Man ($2.4 billion), Captain America ($2.2 billion), and Guardians of the Galaxy ($2.4 billion).

Until now, there’s been no word on whether this actually spells the end for the Ant-Man franchise. However, the latest update from one of its biggest stars, Evangeline Lilly (Hope Van Dyne/The Wasp), doesn’t sound promising.

Scott Lang/Ant-Man (L) and Hope van Dyne/Wasp (R) on the red carpet in 'Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania'
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: Report – Marvel’s New MCU Avengers Cast Revealed

Lilly – who confirmed earlier this week that she is retiring from acting – has revealed that she no longer has any contractual obligations to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“I have actually been on a hiatus from acting for the past three years already (since finishing work on Quantumania),” Lilly told Variety. “This time outside of the business has brought me a grounding sense of fulfillment and joy.” Lilly added that while she may still return to the industry, she is “not under any contractual obligations to anybody. I am devoting my time to my humanitarian work and my writing.”

From what its stars have said in the past, most actors sign on to a six-picture deal when they join the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While they often extend (such as Robert Downey Jr., who had actually fulfilled the original terms of his deal by the release of Iron Man 3 (2013) but still stuck around for another six years), others do not.

Hank Pym (Michael Douglass) with Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly)
Credit: Marvel Studios

It’s been reported that Marvel wants to recreate the magic of Avengers: Endgame with the upcoming Avengers 5 (which still doesn’t have an official name after dropping “Kang Dynasty”) by having over 60 characters star in the film. While this will assumedly encompass the majority of heroes remaining in the MCU, it sounds like we can rule the Wasp out of appearing.

At this point, a fourth Ant-Man film seems like a tall order – especially seeing as how the last two have shifted to be “Ant-Man and the Wasp” movies, which is pretty tough without, you know, The Wasp.

But despite Quantumania’s lack of box-office success, we’d be surprised to see Marvel drop Paul Rudd’s endlessly charming Scott Lang (AKA Ant-Man) from any ensemble films, too. Ant-Man and the Wasp are kind of a package deal, so it will be interesting to see how Marvel navigates Lilly’s absence.

Would you like to see Evangeline Lilly return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Let us know in the comments!

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