Marvel Made The Russo Brothers Press Pause On Their Gray Man Plans

From television directors on acclaimed shows such as "Arrested Development" and "Community" to the 2006 comedy "You, Me and Dupree" to essentially becoming the go-to directing duo for all the Marvel Cinematic Universe's biggest and most buzzworthy event films, few filmmakers can hope to match the rapid ascension of Joe and Anthony Russo. But before they became name-brand talent through their work on "Avengers: Infinity War" and "Avengers: Endgame," the Russo brothers first leveraged their impressive early returns into a directing gig on 2014's "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." One pulse-pounding, heavy-hitting, and remarkably well-directed thriller later, the siblings were well on their way to success in blockbuster filmmaking.

But those ambitions weren't without added complications along the way. As any actor signed on to a multi-movie contract could tell you, it's not easy to balance more personal projects with the demands of MCU franchise-building. The Russos' next project, "The Gray Man," is set for a limited release in theaters tomorrow, July 15, 2022, before its debut on Netflix streaming a week later ... but if it weren't for their superhero-related responsibilities, "The Gray Man" could've entered production much, much earlier.

'We put this on the shelf for a few years'

As far as first world problems go, the Russos being unable to commence work on another exorbitantly-budgeted Netflix blockbuster because they were busy with their duties on Marvel's exorbitantly-budgeted superhero blockbusters is as good as it gets. Still, it's fascinating to know that "The Gray Man" has remained at the back of their minds for close to 10 years at this point. Anthony and Joe Russo admitted as much in a recent interview with According to Joe Russo:

"We read it years ago while we were making 'Winter Soldier,' and we actually I did the first adaptation of it in between takes while we were directing 'Winter Soldier' as a potential movie to direct after we were done with it. But then we got asked to do 'Civil War' and then 'Avengers,' so we put this on the shelf for a few years."

Obviously, the action flick can't be separated from the Marvel of it all. Not only did the popular franchise force the Russos to delay their original plans with "The Gray Man," but Chris Evans' role as Marvel's boy scout fully influenced their choice to reunite with him in the upcoming Netflix thriller, as well. Anthony Russo put it this way:

"...[Chris Evans'] capacity as an actor clearly goes way beyond all the wonderful things he brought to [Captain America]. And we wanted to do something with him that brought him as far away from that character as you possibly could. I don't know if you could get farther away from Captain America than the character he plays in 'The Gray Man.'"

Fans will be able to see this transformation for themselves when "The Gray Man" streams on Netflix on July 22, 2022.