Source: Marvel Studios

Chris Evans may have gone skydiving with Esquire‘s Maximillian Potter, but it was the interviewer who sent fans over the edge by suggesting that the star would soon be done playing Captain America. Evans’ Marvel contract will be complete after Avengers: Infinity War and the untitled fourth Avengers film. He will be under no further obligation to wield the shield, but as it turns out, that hardly means he’s done with the role.

This is the portion of the Esquire article that got fans’ attention last week.

Settling in on the couch, he groans. Evans explains that he’s hurting all over because he just started his workout routine the day before to get in shape for the next two Captain America films. The movies will be shot back to back beginning in April. After that, no more red- white-and-blue costume for the thirty-five-year-old. He will have fulfilled his contract.

There are obviously many quotes in the article from Evans, but none in which he actually says he is done playing Cap once his current Marvel deal is up. Collider‘s Christina Radish was able to get a quote from Evans during a press event for his new movie, Gifted, yesterday and the Star-Spangled Man has a more optimistic plan for his Marvel future.

“It’s really not up to me. My contract is up. I’m not going to sit here and say, ‘No more.’ I think Hugh Jackman has made 47 Wolverine movies, and they somehow keep getting better. It’s a character I love, and it’s a factory that really knows what they’re doing. The system is sound, over there. They make great movies. If they weren’t kicking out quality, I’d have a different opinion. But, everything Marvel does seems to be cinema gold. And like I said, I love the character. The only reason it would end is ‘cause my contract is up. After Avengers 4, my contract is done. Talk to Marvel. If we engage further, I’d be open to it. I love the character. It’s almost like high school. You certainly always look to senior year, and then, all of a sudden, senior year happens and you’re like, ‘I don’t know if I’m ready to go.’ It’s tough thinking about not playing the guy.”

This statement is much more in line with the sentiments Evans expressed during the U.S. press conference for Captain America: Civil War last year. Back in 2014, Evans sounded more like he was done after his current Marvel deal expires, but since then, he seems to have had a change of heart and is looking forward to more Marvel movies, so long as the studio will have him.

Marvel Studios certainly wants to keep Evans, based on what studio president Kevin Feige told Variety last November.

“Luckily we don’t have to make that decision anytime soon. There are a lot of movies that everyone is signed on for, and we get to enjoy them for a long time. Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man, and right now I can’t envision anyone else. Chris Evans has embodied Captain America as well as any actor has ever embodied an iconic pop-culture figure like that. I go back to Chris Reeve as Superman as the gold standard, and I think Evans is right there. I couldn’t imagine anybody else.

“But you also look to history: We have a new Spider-Man right now who was in our Civil War film and is in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and the audience has embraced it. And you can look to Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, and Batman as characters that last longer than any one actor playing them. There’s a precedent for it in other franchises that suggests it’s possible. But right now I don’t want to think about it and don’t need to think about it.”

Recasting is a reality that Marvel Studios will one day have to confront with its biggest stars, but it’s hard to imagine the studio choosing to do that while the actors are still open to more Marvel movies. There will be pay raises, to be sure, but it is money Marvel Studios will be happy to spend to keep Chris Evans and company in the fold.

What Evans probably will not do is sign a huge, six-movie deal like he did the first time around. He will probably aim to make a deal for one or two movies at a time, so that he has some flexibility. That should be just fine with Marvel, as the studio will not need Evans quite as often in the future as it has in the first three phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

With Phase Three introducing three new Disney-owned franchises in Doctor StrangeBlack Panther, and Captain Marvel to go with the Sony-owned Spider-Man: Homecoming, Marvel Studios will have plenty of new faces to focus on in the solo films. The studio will undoubtedly add more in Phase Four and will still have relatively young franchises in Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy, plus a reborn Thor franchise after Thor: Ragnarok.

In his next Marvel Studios deal, Evans will probably move into the Robert Downey, Jr. district. It’s doubtful he’ll match Downey’s wages, but Evans could match Iron Man’s workload, eschewing standalone films in favor of Avengers team-ups and supporting appearances in other characters’ movies. Downey hasn’t made a solo movie since Iron Man 3 was released in May 2013 and the MCU has been running just fine. Downey is open to a fourth Iron Man movie and Evans may feel the same way about a fourth Captain America, but they don’t have to do those films and Marvel won’t need them to.

Captain America’s role within the MCU may very well change after Avengers 4, but that just means more opportunities for other characters and more time for Evans to explore other projects in between Marvel appearances. It’s just great to know that our one and only Steve Rogers is ready to reenlist and all Marvel Studios needs to do is give him that IA stamp once again.