“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your planned franchise,” goes the old saying, one Joe and Anthony Russo appear not to have heard. Deadline reports that the MCU shepherds—they directed Winter Soldier, Civil War, Infinity War, and Endgame—are mapping out a “James Bond-level franchise-starter” based on Mark Greaney’s 2009 novel The Gray Man.
They’ve got the tools, with Netflix pumping upwards of $200 million into the project and Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling signed on to star. Throw in screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who worked with the Russos at Marvel, and you’ve got what sounds like a sure thing. Of course, Universal once thought the same about is Dark Universe, but we digress.
The action thriller centers around Gosling’s Court Gentry, a “freelance assassin and former CIA operative” who, in this first installment, faces off against Evans’ Lloyd Hansen, an old CIA colleague of Gentry’s who we’re hoping is super evil so Evans, who’s too beautiful to be so good, gets to play someone super evil. Gosling is expected to return as Gentry in numerous sequels, and while there’s no word on whether Evans will stick around, we’d humbly suggest a Loki arc for his character.
“The movie is a real mano a mano between those two great actors, who represent two different versions of the CIA, in what it can be, and what it can do,” Anthony Russo said. “For those who were fans of Captain America: Winter Soldier, this is us moving into that territory in more of a real world setting. That’s what this movie really means for us.”
As fans of Captain America: Winter Soldier, we are happy to hear this.
Joe Russo added: “The intention is for it to be competitive with any theatrical and the ability to do it with Gosling and Evans is a dream for us. The idea is to create a franchise and build out a whole universe, with Ryan at the center of it. We have all committed to the first movie and that’s got to be great to get us to the second movie.”
Netflix’s enthusiasm behind the project was enlivened, no doubt, by the success of the Russos’ Extraction, an underwhelming Hemsworth action flick that nevertheless became the streamer’s most-viewed original film at 99 million views.
The Gray Man is planned to begin filming in January of next year, though the dire state of the pandemic looms. Trained assassins are powerful and all, but not even the CIA can train you how to snap the neck of a disease.