So far, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been a beautiful tapestry of heroism, intricate plotting, and spandex. 14 movies and over two “phases” in, things are going swimmingly. Hardcore fans are happy, the movies make billions of dollars, and the web of characters and their adventures gets larger all the time.

But Marvel is entering an interesting and potentially fraught period in its movie history. They’ve been doing this for almost a decade. The actors they hired to play these eternally youthful characters are starting to get older. (Samuel L. Jackson is, somehow, 68 years old.) They can’t play these heroes forever. And even if they could, would they want to? Some of them might, for the right price. Others might not, and the long-term contracts many of the principal cast signed at the start of the MCU are winding down.

As noted in a new Esquire profile, for example, Marvel’s Captain America, Chris Evans, is nearing the end of his contractually-mandated tour of service. After the next two Avengers movies, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: We Don’t Have a Subtitle Yet, But It Really Doesn’t Matter What We Call It, Evans is done:

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.

The profile also notes that while Marvel originally wanted to sign Evans to a nine-film deal, he agreed to only make six movies. And technically, that final Avengers will be his seventh Marvel venture after three solo Captain Americas and four Avengers outings.

Evans could always decide to come back for a few more movies. (Robert Downey Jr. takes things movie by movie at this point in his relationship with Marvel.) And the studio has options to replace the character without recasting the part. In the comics, Bucky and Falcon have both spent time as Steve Rogers’ replacement as Captain America and it is very easy to imagine a scenario where the movie Steve dies or retires and asks movie Bucky or movie Falcon to carry his shield in his absence.

Ultimately Evans’ deal winding down is less significant than the wider ramifications for many actors’ Marvel deals winding down. In self-contained universes you can always just recast and reboot (think Batman or Spider-Man). In a massive universe full of dense continuity, that gets a little trickier.

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