Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo have always expressed a willingness to return to the MCU, but even with a number of potential opportunities, that return may still be some time away according to them.
The Russo Bros are arguably the most successful and beloved directors in MCU history with four of the biggest films in the franchise under their belts, which has left fans anxious to see the duo take on another high-profile Marvel movie. Their potential return to the franchise has been tumultuous though, with discussions being marred by behind-the-scenes turmoil.
The two had always teased the idea of returning for a Secret Wars movie if Marvel Studios took that direction, which was confirmed to be the case when 2026's Avengers: Secret Wars was announced at San Diego Comic-Con 2022. But even with rumors pointing to them taking that directing job, the Russos quickly debunked that theory by saying they weren't signed on after the announcement dropped.
And unfortunately, their latest update not only confirms that they won't direct Secret Wars, but that they won't be taking on another MCU movie for a long time.
No MCU Return for Russo Bros Anytime Soon
Speaking with Variety, directors Joe and Anthony Russo revealed that their return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe likely won't happen for the foreseeable future.
Following their latest efforts on 2019's Avengers: Endgame, Joe Russo explained that he and his brother are "always talking" with Marvel's top people to work out the right time to come back.
But, as of early October, he admitted that the two wouldn't be ready to make that comeback "until the end of the decade:"
“We’re always talking; we’d need to see what would work. We won’t be ready to do anything with Marvel until the end of the decade."
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige previously denied the Russos' involvement with Avengers: Secret Wars at San Diego Comic-Con, though mentioned that Marvel Studios still "want[s] to find something to do together, just not this."
Looking back at their experience with Endgame, which opened to a record-demolishing $1.2 billion in its opening weekend alone, Russo explained that something like that "will never happen again." For perspective, Marvel holds the next two biggest opening weekends with Spider-Man: No Way Home ($260 million) and Avengers: Infinity War ($257 million), with Episode VII and Episode VIII from Star Wars rounding out the top five:
“It will never happen again. That was an apex of that era of theatrical filmmaking. When we started AGBO, we already felt the winds shifting.”
Russo also looked at the changing landscape of movie releases, particularly after Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) canceled numerous projects like Batgirl during its merger. In August, WBD CEO David Zaslav nearly called out the Russo Bros' The Gray Man by name in justifying his argument about expensive tentpole movies not making sense as streaming debuts.
Speaking on Batgirl, the Endgame director had a difficult time thinking of something "that high profile, that expensive" being shut down in that manner, noting how the business side of the movie industry is being felt more these days with people being scared of failure:
“It’s rare that I can think of something that high profile, that expensive, that was murdered in such a way. It’s sad, but we’re at a time in the business where corporate sociopathy is going to rear its head because people are scared.”
While the Russos won't be involved with the MCU for a while, they've adopted a number of big names from in front of the camera and behind it for their own movies, headlined by Thor star Chris Hemsworth in Extraction and Captain America star Chris Evans in The Gray Man.
Russo looked back to how he and his brother joined Marvel because the company was "another family unit made up of lovely people and lovely creatives," as the two are always looking to build their own circle of great people in the industry:
“I think part of the reason we gravitated to Marvel is they were another family unit made up of lovely people and lovely creatives, who also like being in a cooperative. We always built communities around us of other artists and creatives that we would invite into a circle with us.”
No Russo Bros in MCU's Multiverse Saga
After Shang-Chi's Destin Daniel Cretton took the directing job for 2025's Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, fans became hopeful that the Russo Bros. would be the next domino to fall for Secret Wars. But now, with this update, Secret Wars appears to be out of the question completely for the Russo Bros as they continue their work away from the Marvel bubble.
As Joe Russo mentioned in his quotes, the two are always in discussions with the top brass at Marvel, and they're always willing to share their thoughts on where the franchise is headed. And while there are no details on how their discussions have gone, the director's most recent interview seems to indicate that the two want some time to do their own thing without having the pressure of the MCU's next big entry on their shoulders.
Although fans are certainly disappointed that the Russos will be away from the MCU for a while, the post-Multiverse Saga landscape is still wide open with possibilities. Should the right opportunity come along after 2026, seeing the Russo Bros. return would make for an exciting development, especially with mutants and more cosmic stories still on the horizon.