Avengers director Joss Whedon has been hinting that the upcoming Age of Ultron could be his Marvel Studios swan song. Ambient speculation has taken hold that directing duties for the two-part Avengers: Infinity War would pass to Anthony and Joe Russo, who helmed the best Marvel movie so far (IMHO) with last year’s Winter Soldier. After all, the Russos are directing next year’s Captain America: Civil War, which is already half an Avengers movie anyhow, what with Iron Man and Black Panther and Black Widow and probably Spider-Man and maybe Hawkeye, why not.
All that speculation gets complicated, though, when you factor in the announcement that Sony has signed a three-year first-look deal with the Russo brothers, effective next month. In a quote released by the studio, the Russos say they are “thrilled to make a home at Sony Pictures … we’re excited to begin developing new and ambitious material with them.” It’s auspicious timing, given that Sony is rapidly developing a threebooted Spider-Man franchise—complete with yesterday’s Big Rumor about Drew Goddard taking the reins of the web-swinging franchise. Let’s take your questions one at a time:
Are the Russos leaving Marvel?
Not at all. Civil War doesn’t even start shooting until next month, and given Marvel’s preference for accelerated production schedules, the Russos will be pretty busy with the Cap threequel right up until it opens next May.
But are they leaving Marvel after they’re done with Civil War?
To be clear, the Russos aren’t choosing one team over another: Signing a first-look deal with Sony doesn’t mean they can’t continue to work with Marvel. It’s still unclear what Whedon’s post-Ultron plans are, but one imagines that if he wants to stick around for the Infinity War two-parter, Marvel would want to keep him—so the Russos could be signing the Sony deal as a back-up plan.
Does this mean they’re working on the Spider-Man reboot?
We’re edging into the muddy waters of the Marvel-Sony neutral zone. On one hand, this news would appear to confirm the Russos as Spider-Man frontunners. Per the hacked Sony documents that we swear we only glanced at, the Russos apparently emailed with former Sony head honcho about the franchise. And their high status with Marvel Studios could make them an ideal go-between for Sony and Marvel, as they share the character between two very different/arguably oppositional corporate superstructures. Then again, if the goal is to bring the Russos onto Spider-Man, it’s strange that Sony’s official announcement makes no mention of Spidey or the expanding Marvel Universe. (There’s also that line about “new and ambitious material,” which doesn’t necessarily equate with “This Decade’s Third Spider-Man Movie.”)
Sony owns Community. The Russo Brothers have directed a lot of Community. What does this news mean for Community: The Movie?
It will definitely happen before Amazing Spider-Man 3.