The Russo Brothers Acknowledge Hollywood’s Post-Marvel “Rut”

Whether you believe in superhero fatigue or not, you can’t deny that Marvel’s impact is slipping.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 18: Executive producers Joe Russo and Anthony Russo attend the "Citadel" Glo...
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How do you follow up something as monumental as Avengers: Endgame? Joe and Anthony Russo are still figuring that out — but with half a decade between the directing duo and their tenure with Marvel, their path has never been clearer.

The Russo brothers helmed four of Marvel’s most influential films, starting with Captain America: The Winter Soldier and culminating with the end of Marvel’s Infinity Saga. Since then, they haven’t been playing in any other sandboxes. Though they’re due to collaborate with Disney on a live-action remake of Hercules, the Russos seem much more interested in building up their own potential franchises. Under their production company AGBO, the filmmakers have carved out an interesting niche in the action market.

Their credits run the gamut from surprise franchises like Extraction to middling (if occasionally engrossing) thrillers like Citadel and The Gray Man. Not every effort has completely paid off, but the Russos are more committed to their strategy than ever before. Following their long partnership with Marvel, and witnessing the rise of superhero fatigue firsthand, the Russos know the future of film lies in original storytelling.

After seven years with Marvel, the Russo brothers “want to build [their] own Star Wars.”


The Russos recently caught up with Games Radar at the Sands International Film Festival, where the filmmakers reiterated their focus on “new” franchises.

“The intention is that we want to build our own Star Wars,” said Joe Russo. “For us, it’s all about the focus on original storytelling and new ideas.” The Russos cite 2023’s biggest movies, Barbie and Oppenheimer, for revealing an appetite for “something different.”

“I think you could argue we’re in a rut of repetitive storytelling and potential franchise abuse,” Joe Russo continued. Notably, the directors don’t actually believe in superhero fatigue, citing franchises across the board — along with a “generational divide” regarding media consumption — as the true culprit. But whether it be society’s sense of “collective ADHD,” or Marvel’s decade-long dominion at the box office, the old ways aren’t enough to satisfy audiences anymore.

“I think the audience is craving new ideas and new stories. And that’s where all of our focus is going post-Marvel — asking, ‘What are those new stories?’” Russo said.

The Russos’ post-Marvel projects haven’t all been hits, but at least they’re keeping the landscape diverse.

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Despite the Russos’ doubts, Marvel is at least partially to blame for the current state of affairs. The studio and its cinematic universe have overwhelmed movie theaters for a decade, making it difficult for more modest films to make a real impact. The rise of the MCU saw the brief fall of the mid-budget movie: romantic comedies, quiet thrillers, and indie dramas all fell to the wayside in favor of superhero schlock.

The renewed interest in original ideas is a response to Marvel and its contemporaries. The pendulum is swinging back to the films that dominated before the superhero industrial complex changed everything. Whether the Russos consciously realize it or not, their post-Marvel efforts prove that everyone needs a little break from the franchise.

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