Marvel directors the Russo Brothers are teaming up with streaming giant Netflix for the thriller The Gray Man, with Hollywood heavy hitters Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans tapped to star. With such a plethora of talent on board, it should come as little surprise to hear that the directors are planning for the movie to spawn a franchise. While speaking at the recent CCXP event, Joe Russo explained that The Gray Man will not leave audiences with all the answers, making way for more adventures to come.
"What we're doing on Gray Man that's different [is]... we're not gonna answer every question in the first movie. This is being conceived as a series of films, and again, potentially branching out, we could follow other characters, but we're not gonna answer every question in the movie. So you're gonna finish the movie, [and] have a complete story, but you're still gonna have questions about the wider universe. And I think that's one way to break the model a little bit, is to not give the audience everything in one film. Don't have a close-ended narrative. Have an open-ended narrative that's [like] a chapter in a book."
The Gray Man follows a former CIA operative turned freelance assassin named Court Gentry, who is also known as the Gray Man. Ryan Gosling will star as Gentry, who is hunted across the globe by his former CIA cohort Lloyd Hansen, played by Chris Evans. Based on the debut novel by Mark Greaney, which was released in 2009, there have been several attempts to turn the novel into a movie, initially with Mission: Impossible 7 director Christopher McQuarrie attached to direct in 2016.
With a $200 million budget, The Gray Man will reportedly be one of Netflix's most expensive ventures, and clearly the Russo's have big plans for The Gray Man, envisioning both sequels and spin-offs in the franchise's future. With a total of ten novels so far in The Gray Man series, the Russo Brothers certainly aren't short on inspiration.
Joe Russo continued, first boasting about what the movie has in store before revealing that the movie will begin shooting in January next year.
"[We're] guys who grew up on a steady diet of action thrillers. The cast is exceptional, the script is excellent. We start shooting at the end of January here in Los Angeles, and then we have some work overseas in Europe after that in the spring."
Finally, he teased the scope of the spy thriller, revealing that the story will take the characters to a variety of different locations all over the world, and that they plan to press ahead and film on location in all of them, despite the ongoing global situation. "We have an incredible team and Netflix has been very supportive. [the current situation] hasn't impacted our location shooting," he said. "This is a big, global spy thriller. Its intent is, it's gonna hit a lot of different locations, and we're still gonna film in those locations. So, we're excited about that because it's really important to the storytelling that we visit these different locations."
Anthony Russo meanwhile could not help but compare The Gray Man to some of their previous endeavours, specifically their first foray into the MCU, 214's Captain America: The Winter Soldier, with the director hinting at Evans' role reversal in the movie.
"Gray Man is a spy film. For fans of The Winter Soldier, The Gray Man is similar in a sense that we're trying to embed it in a very modern, current environment that we're facing on a global level in terms of spy networks and [the] CIA. It'll be fun to see Chris in the opposite role of Captain America."
Evans excelled as the unashamedly heroic Captain America across the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The actor remains one of the most talented A-listers working today and seeing him step out of comfort zone and take on the role of the antagonist should provide The Gray Man with just one of no doubt many twists.
Anthony Russo continued, teasing how The Gray Man will sneak social commentary and contemporary issues in amongst the thrilling action sequences. "We're just trying to be very current with it in terms of speaking to issues that we feel like are feeding global anxiety at the moment," he revealed. "Like Joe was saying earlier, how do you Trojan Horse really relevant issues into a really exciting, thrilling genre package? So for fans of action and the spy genre, it's going to really deliver on that in a major way. But at the same time it has a lot of complex social issues that are unfolding right now."
The Gray Man is fast becoming one of the most highly anticipated projects, not just for Netflix but across the cinematic spectrum. The reunion of Avengers: Endgame star Chris Evans with the Russo Brothers is exciting enough, but with the addition of the Oscar nominated Ryan Gosling, The Gray Man easily has the potential to become one of the best spy thrillers made in years, even ever.
With sequels and more on the horizon, Joe Russo admits that they may bring in other filmmakers to build on the foundations that they intend to lay with the first The Gray Man. "It could be other filmmakers," Joe Russo said regarding any sequels. "I mean we love it, we love what we've been prepping, we love the cast, but we'd love to tell multiple stories and schedule-dependent, we might not be able to handle everything. So, we love to bring new voices in and we also get excited about that."
Fear not though, as the Russo Brothers to plan to keep an eye on the spy franchise, with the directing pair intending to stay on as producers. "We like producing as much as we like directing because we like being inspired and surprised by other filmmakers. We like collaborating, because Anthony and I have been doing it our entire lives, so we're not afraid of collaboration," said Joe.
The Gray Man does not yet have a release date. The Russo Brothers made these comments during an appearance at this year's CCXP event.