Joe and Anthony Russo - better known as the Russo Brothers - have seen the biggest jump to stardom in Hollywood history. After kicking their careers into gear with hit sitcoms Community and Arrested Development, the directing duo struck gold when they landed a job at the helm of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The directing brothers have since taken the lead on three of Marvel Studios' biggest blockbusters including Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame.
As fans clamor for The Russo Brothers to make their grand return to the MCU, which they are reportedly already in talks for, the duo is focussing on their own projects at their own studio, AGBO.Just six years after its founding in 2016, the production company has been home to a number of major flicks including Extraction, 21 Bridges, Cherry, and The Gray Man - all of which involved some of the MCU's biggest stars.
With the superhero future of Joe and Anthony Russo remaining up in the air, one half of the directing duo has revealed the true endgame plan of their work at Marvel Studios.
Avengers Director Reveals His Hollywood Dream
Avengers: Endgame director Joe Russo spoke with the Empire Podcast at The Sands International Film Festival and revealed his long-term plan in Hollywood as well as the Marvel universe.
Russo first made reference to the experience in starting a film that he gained in seeing Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney found Section Eight Productions. The duo founded the studio together in 2000 before shutting it down in 2006 as Soderbergh opted to move on and focus on his own projects:
“We were fortunate enough to have the experience of watching [what] Steven [Soderbergh] and George [Clooney] did with Section Eight [Productions]. And if you go look at the roster of people that went through there, it’s pretty impressive the people that they helped out. But I remember Steven getting burned out and going like, ‘This is too much work to produce.’ And they shut the company down, and he left, and he was like, ‘I just wanna focus on my movies.’ And then he started going back to much more personal filmmaking, which he’s been doing for a while now."
The Marvel director recalled talking to Soderbergh and explaining that "indie filmmaking is in TV" because creatives get more money, support, and time to tell stories to invest more into characters. Russo continued to discuss how this offered more opportunity to "make decisions without compromise on the business side," but ultimately it was their dream to eventually start their own studio:
"And I remember having a conversation with him in the early 2010s saying, ’cause we were in television at the time and I said, ‘Look, man… indie filmmaking is in TV. And you get a lot more money to do it, you get a lot more support, and you can tell your stories for longer, so you can really invest in the characters…’ And so, we started looking at that as like what the power [working in television] was giving us, working on those shows was infectious because it allowed us to make decisions without compromise on the business side because I think our brains were starting to understand how to deliver things in a way that they would suck up pop culture oxygen like Arrested Development or Community, which made them harder to cancel even though they weren’t highly commercial. And it was always our dream then to build our own studio. "
Russo then discussed his and his brother's jump from television to Marvel. While Russo admits that he "loved making those movies," he shared that one of his ultimate hopes with Marvel Studios was to "[raise] capital to start [their] own studio" to "be [their] own bosses:"
"And when we got the Marvel opportunity, we saw that as a potential to leverage these big commercial plays into raising capital to start our own studio. So at the end of the day, we could really be our own bosses and that’s the track we took. So even though we did four for them, and… I say that in jest because we loved making those movies. Absolutely loved making them. We love those films."
Once again referencing Steven Soderbergh who had an unfortunate experience working with Sony and decided not to work with studios anymore. Having learned that lesson, Russo shared the aim he developed to build enough leverage to avoid dealing with that problem on their own projects in the future.
"But it led us to a very particular place ’cause one of the lessons we learned… [Steven Soderbergh] famously ended up kind of walking away from the business because he was so pissed off. He had a really shitty experience with Sony and threw up his hands on a film and said, ‘Fuck it, I’m not working with studios anymore.’ So we thought, can we get to a place where we have enough leverage where we don’t have that problem moving forward.”
Do The Russo Brothers Have a Future at Marvel?
The Russo Brothers have only been running AGBO for six years, and yet they have already seen unprecedented success. Extraction sits among the biggest Netflix originals, The Gray Man looks placed to be another hit on the streaming service this year, and they were even behind the recent Multiverse smash it Everything Everywhere All at Once.
The studio has plenty more major productions ahead - including collaborations with Netflix, Disney, and Universal - meaning the duo will clearly be staying busy. But there remains a chance the fan-favorite directors will still be returning to Marvel Studios in the coming years for another blockbuster project like Avengers 5, which is expected to adapt the Secret Wars storyline.
Working with Marvel Studios has proven to be a genius career-changing move for the Russo Brothers that has now allowed them to follow their dreams of creative independence. The duo have quickly become among the biggest names in Hollywood and were even behind the second-highest-grossing film of all time, giving them a strong upper hand in taking their original productions to major distributors such as Netflix and Disney.
No matter the initial motivations behind The Russo Brothers' work with Marvel Studios, the end result was undeniably magnificent and resulted in films they are clearly proud of and enjoyed making. Only time will tell if the directing brothers will be coming back to the MCU anytime soon, and fans can only keep their fingers crossed for a blockbuster reunion in the years to come.