No bubble can last forever — it must eventually pop, as is the nature of bubbles. Marvel has built a vast media empire on the strength of such stars as Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, and Chris Hemsworth, but no actor would be content with playing and re-playing the same role forever. All good (and obscenely lucrative) things must come to an end, and Evans has begun the long and painful process of consciously uncoupling from Captain America’s star-spangled shield and cowl. But a new quote from the actor suggests that he may not be the first big name to make a departure from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Evans recently spoke to USA Today about the uncertain future for Marvel, which may soon have to recast several of its most well-recognized characters. The actor’s contract with Marvel will expire after he completes his commitment to the next two Avengers movies, and while he’s said that “If Marvel wants me, they got me” a year ago (sharply noted by the folks at /Film), he’s now preparing to move onto the next phase of his career:

I’d be lying if I said it wouldn’t be hard for me. But the passing of time and the passing of torches is part of the experience. Nothing lasts forever. There’s a beauty in that departure, even if it can be sad at times. It’s also joyful. I’ve had a great run. Superheroes are reinventable entities, like Batman or even James Bond. These movies find new incarnations and new ways to tell the story. I am all for it. However, if they want to proceed after Avengers 4, it’s really up to them. I walk away with no regrets and endlessly thankful.

That’s the usual gracious actor non-talk, a lot of words that don’t really amount to too much. The next thing Evans said should inspire more fanboy conniptions:

Downey is far closer to reaching that point where he may walk away. And I don’t know how you replace Downey as Tony Stark. I don’t know who else can touch that.

The man’s not wrong. Downey, whose contract status is movie by movie, has become so closely identified with not just the Iron Man character, but all he represents, that it’s difficult to imagine someone else playing the role. But as Evans noted, they trot out a new James Bond every decade or so, so why not?

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