The Russo brothers might return to direct another Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, and here are some options for what it should be (if it doesn’t get canceled). Anthony and Joe Russo are among the most accomplished directors in the MCU’s history. They’re the only ones to direct four movies, and each one continued to raise the bar in terms of spectacle and box office earnings. Avengers: Endgame was the cherry on top of their Marvel run as it earned rave reviews and became the highest-grossing movie of all time until Avatar‘s re-release reclaimed the record.
It has been only a few years since the Russos took a break from Marvel to direct other films, such as Tom Holland’s Cherry, but their MCU return is already being discussed. The directing duo has always expressed an interest in returning to work with Marvel Studios down the road. However, there is some doubt around the Russos’ MCU return after Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit against Disney for Black Widow‘s Disney+ release. This might not seem like it has anything to do with the Russos at first, but they are reportedly questioning how their next MCU movie would be released and how they would be paid. Although the Russo brothers are no strangers to making movies for streaming services, they likely received huge paydays from their Marvel movies due to them shattering box office records. They would want to be fairly compensated if their next movie debuted on Disney+ in any capacity.
The Russo brothers’ impasse with Disney about their MCU return will likely be resolved at some point, though. If the Black Widow lawsuit reaches a conclusion where Scarlett Johansson is paid what she believes she is owed, then the Russos should close their own deal to direct another Marvel movie. Reports of their possible return didn’t reveal which project could entice them to come back after Avengers: Endgame. But, there are many realistic options based on what the Russos have discussed in the past and Marvel is developing or building towards. Here’s what the Russos’ next MCU movie could be.
If there is one movie most likely to get the Russo brothers back to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it would be an adaptation of Secret Wars as an upcoming event movie. There are two versions of the Secret Wars story in the comics, but both revolve around bringing characters from across the universe/multiverse together to fight on Battleworld. Jim Shooter wrote the original 12-issue series in the 1980s, and Jonathan Hickman engineered the 2015 reimagining that combined Earth-616 and the Ultimate Universe. The Russo brothers are fans of both iterations of the story and have openly discussed that a Secret Wars movie is what they would want to do next for Marvel.
The Russos returning to the MCU for Secret Wars would make a lot of sense. They are already familiar with handling a project with a massive scale, and that is necessary as Secret Wars could be even bigger than Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. Marvel Studios wanting to put this story in their trusted hands is understandable. The Secret Wars movie‘s cast could include all current MCU heroes, many MCU villains, alternate versions of characters through the multiverse, and even bring back actors from the Fox X-Men movies or previous versions of Spider-Man. With the multiverse set to be a big part of the MCU’s future, it will only be a matter of time before Secret Wars is made as a movie. If this is what the Russos are planning to do for their MCU return, then it could happen sooner than later too.
Outside of Secret Wars, the Russos have made it quite clear they wished they could’ve used Wolverine during their previous MCU films. The possibility of them returning could allow them to be in charge of his MCU debut. There have been plenty of rumors about Marvel Studios developing a Wolverine-focused Disney+ series, but a solo movie is just as likely to happen with him first. The Russo brothers could be part of the beginning of a Wolverine movie being developed if they want to direct it. This could even give them a chance to bring Wolverine’s fight with Hulk from his comic debut, which they love, to the screen. Meanwhile, the MCU would hand them a possible new franchise and entrust them with crafting a fresh take on Wolverine that can stand apart from Hugh Jackman’s.
If a Wolverine solo project is destined for Disney+, the Russos could also potentially get their hands on the character and the full X-Men roster by doing the MCU’s first X-Men movie. Kevin Feige previously confirmed they are developing a movie with the mutants, but no details on what it will be have surfaced yet. The Russo brothers could be viewed as the safe choice in such a scenario, but Marvel won’t want the first MCU X-Men movie to be anything short of a hit. They know how to handle the team dynamic inherent in the X-Men, which could give them a chance to go slightly smaller in terms of scale while still delivering on plenty of spectacle.
If the Russos want a big event film for their MCU return and Marvel Studios isn’t ready to make Secret Wars already, Avengers vs. X-Men could be another option. The 2012 comic event was created by Jonathan Hickman, Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker, and Jason Aaron. A proper adaptation of Avengers vs. X-Men would take years of movies and Disney+ shows to get the MCU in a position to tell this tale. But, the MCU could use it as a framework to pit the Avengers against the X-Men without dealing with as much setup. The Russos already know what it takes to make a compelling movie about heroes fighting other heroes after Captain America: Civil War. Avengers vs. X-Men could be their chance to bring the new look Avengers together to square off against the first iteration of the X-Men and set them up to be allies moving forward.
The Russo brothers’ possible secret return could also be tied to the secret project reportedly in the works that will bring Chris Evans back as Captain America. Less than two years after Steve Rogers grew old with Peggy Carter at the end of Avengers: Endgame, reports surfaced that Chris Evans was in talks to make his MCU return. He and Kevin Feige have indicated that this is premature, but perhaps that’s because the Russos would direct it. Captain America was one of the main characters in all of the Russo brothers’ prior MCU movies, so them coming back tell more stories with him makes sense. It could even explain why they once teased that Chris Evans’ time as Steve Rogers wasn’t over. No matter what this secret Captain America project is about, there’s a chance Evans might only want to return if it means working with the Russo brothers again.
The Russos’ next MCU movie could also potentially be Thunderbolts. After spending so much time focusing on the biggest heroes in the MCU, this could be the opportunity for them to handle an ensemble led by some of its most prominent villains or anti-heroes. They already are familiar with possible leaders like Baron Zemo or Bucky Barnes too. Thunderbolts could even be a chance for them to tell a slightly darker story more in the vein of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Whether the Thunderbolts team is assembled through villains taking on new identities to pose as heroes or as a more Suicide Squad-type team of reformed foes, it would be fun to see the Russo brothers take on a different type of MCU team-up movie next.