The Comic Series That Made Joe And Anthony Russo Fall In Love With Marvel

If Joe and Anthony Russo live to be 150 years old, they will probably always be remembered as the directors of "Avengers: Infinity War" and "Avengers: Endgame," not to mention "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and "Captain America: Civil War." Their love for Marvel was able to translate on the big screen beautifully, resulting in some of the biggest movies ever made. The love shows. You can't get those results without a fondness for the source material. But where does their love of Marvel Comics stem from?

In a red carpet interview while promoting their new movie "The Gray Man," the Russo brothers addressed a possible return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe at some point. They did so in a roundabout way, with Joe Russo explaining that the series that made them adore Marvel was none other than "Secret Wars":

"Our love for Marvel is based on the books we read as kids, the books that we love. The one series that we adored growing up was Secret Wars. It's incredibly ambitious, it'd be bigger than Infinity War and Endgame, but it's a massive undertaking. And, you know, those two movies were really very hard to make. So trying to imagine making another two that would be even bigger than those two? We're gonna have to sleep on it."

Bigger than "Infinity War" and "Endgame"? Those are some big, strong words. But those who are familiar with the source material likely understand that they aren't kidding and this may well be the only storyline in Marvel's catalog that could compete with the "Infinity Gauntlet" crossover event.

What is Secret Wars?

"Marvel Super Hero Secret Wars," often referred to simply as "Secret Wars," was a major crossover event published by Marvel Comics between 1984 and 1985. Written by the legendary Jim Shooter, with artwork from Mike Zeck and Bob Layton, it saw the heroes and villains of the Marvel universe transported to an alien planet to duke it out with one another at the behest of a godlike being. For some context, here's a synopsis for the 12-issue series:

Drawn from Earth across the stars, the Marvel Universe's greatest villains and heroes are set against one another by the mysterious and unbelievably powerful Beyonder, with the winner promised the ultimate prize. But as battle lines are drawn, new alliances forged and old enemies clash, one among them is not willing to settle for anything less than godhood. Can even the combined might of the Avengers, Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men prevent Dr. Doom from becoming the most powerful being in the universe?

It sold like gangbusters and got a less successful sequel, "Secret Wars II," published between 1985 and 1986. There was also a big, more modern version of the event also titled "Secret Wars" that was published in 2015. It was a bit more convoluted and involved converging universes and other such craziness. Again, just to point a small picture, here's the synopsis for that iteration:

The Marvel Universe is no more! The interdimensional Incursions have eliminated each and every dimension one by one – and now, despite the best efforts of the scientists, sages and superhumans of both dimensions, the Marvel Universe and Ultimate Universe have collided with one another...and been destroyed! Now, all that exists in the vast empty cosmos is a single titanic patchwork planet, made of the fragmented remains of hundreds of devastated dimensions: Battleworld! And the survivors of this multiversal catastrophe must learn to survive in this strange new realm!

Would the Russo brothers direct a Secret Wars movie?

To this very day, the original "Secret Wars" remains perhaps the most beloved Marvel Comics crossover event of all time. Heck, it's even where Spider-Man originally got his black suit, as seen on the cover of the eighth issue. So it's no wonder that this was formative for the Russo brothers. Now comes the big question: would they come back to turn this into a movie (or movies) for Marvel Studios? One imagines those talks have already happened.

For one, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has already teased that the studio is building towards another big event and that those plans will become clearer soon. For another, we learned last year that Joe and Anthony Russo had been in talks with Marvel and Disney to come back to direct another project, but those plans fell through once the "Black Widow" lawsuit kicked up. Since that's been settled, there is no reason both sides couldn't have come back to the table to revisit those negotiations. And, most importantly, the Russo brothers have flat-out said multiple times that "Secret Wars" is the thing that they would come back for. Speaking to IGN in 2020, Joe Russo said, "To execute something on the scale of 'Infinity War' was directly related to the dream of 'Secret Wars.'" They are not being subtle about this.

This would be a win-win. It would give the MCU another event that could rival "Endgame," it would bring the directors with the best track record in the franchise back for more, and it could even give Marvel a chance to naturally hit the reboot button. If they go the 2015 route and do dimensional incursions, why not? At the very least, we know the Russos want to do it.