For years, it has been mentioned how much the Avengers: Endgame directors look up to Soderbergh (the director of films like Oceans Eleven, Contagion, and Magic Mike).
He took the pair under his wing early in their career, helping the duo by telling them "indie filmmaking is in TV" these days - something that the Russos know all too well after getting their start on series like Community.
Why the Russo's Mentor Doesn't Watch the MCU
In a new interview with Rolling Stone, directors Joe and Anthony Russo's mentor Steven Soderbergh broke down why exactly he has not watched any of their four Marvel films (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame).
Commenting on why the director had not included any superhero films in his yearly film recap from last year, Soderbergh said that "[he has] never been" the audience for comic book movies like those of the MCU.
He noted that he has "no philosophical issue with those movies" he is just "not the target for that" kind of genre storytelling:
"I have no philosophical issue with those movies. The fact of the matter is: I’m not the audience for that. I never was. When I was growing up, I never had comic books. I’m not a fantasy person. I’m too stuck on the ground. So, I’m just not the target for that."
The 60-year-old filmmaker called himself a superhero film "agnostic." However, he did acknowledge how "tough" it is to make those kinds of movies, pointing to what he had heard from the Russos:
"I’m agnostic about them. I can tell you right now, just as a filmmaker, they’re really tough movies to make in terms of the stamina required. The Russos are friends of mine. Who knew when I first met them that this was what they loved to do and had a real feeling for?"
He remembered talking with the Russo Brothers when they were candidates for Captain America: The Winter Soldier and being asked to "call Kevin Feige and say nice things about [them]:"
"I didn’t know this until they called me and said, 'We’re up for ['Captain America: The Winter Soldier']. Will you call Kevin Feige and say nice things about us?' And I said, 'Yes, if you will answer me this one question: Is this something you’re dying to do or is it something someone told you you ought to be doing?' And they said, 'Oh no, we have this massive comic book collection. This is our dream job.' And I said, 'Oh, then of course I will.' And it turns out they weren’t kidding."
The director closed by saying that he is "happy for [the Russos]," calling comic book filmmaking "hard" and remarking that "[he] couldn't do it."
For context, Joe and Anthony Russo have both been vocal about Soderbergh's impact on the pair. In a Hollywood Reporter interview from July 2022, Joe Russo said outright that the director "was our mentor very early on in our careers:"
"One thing Steven Soderbergh taught us — he was our mentor very early on in our careers — was: 'One for you. One for them.' You have to figure out how to make people money. Once you do, you can take some swings. AGBO is really built off of that concept. We started developing 'The Gray Man' while we were making 'Winter Soldier,' not knowing whether we’d continue working with Marvel. We did four Marvel films. Once we came out the other side, we pulled the project out of Sony [where it had gone unproduced since 2014]."
What Does Steven Soderbergh Have Against Marvel?
While word that Steven Soderbergh had not seen any Marvel movies despite providing years of advice and guidance to two of the MCU's biggest directing names will turn some heads, the filmmaker seems to have a legitimate reason for not doing so.
It seems that Soderbergh simply does not connect with this kind of material. It's not that he has some Martin Scorcese-esuqe manifesto, disparaging the genre as "not cinema." It's just not for him.
Soderbergh has previously offered some controversial comments on comic book films, noting that he was not interested because "Nobody’s F*cking” in those movies. A remark that Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn responded to, saying, "with all due respect, Steven Soderbergh, some people are f*cking.”
But everything he has said on the matter seems genuine and not in an effort to detract from the merits of the genre.
All of the Russo brothers' MCU films can be streamed now on Disney+.