Universal recently shifted the release date for The Bourne Legacy back an entire week, in order to make room for the box office reign of Dark Knight Rises. The studio is taking no risks with its Bourne franchise quasi-sequel/spinoff. In fact, ever since writer/director Tony Gilroy conceived the project, the door’s been left open for Matt Damon to return as Jason Bourne in a fifth installment (we’ll just call it Bourne 5 for now).

The full Bourne Legacy trailer was structured to drive home the idea that J. Bourne was just the tip of the iceberg with respect to Treadstone and other black-ops programs. Truth be told, that idea was emphasized ad nauseam in the trailer – but that gesture was arguably necessary, given how many people have been under the mistaken impression that Bourne Legacy is a reboot (starring Jeremy Renner as Jason Bourne).

Gilroy spoke with Empire about Bourne Legacy, and likened the film’s connection to the Bourne trilogy as follows:

“If you think of the first three Bourne films as [the portions of ‘Hamlet’ that feature Rosencrantz and Guildenstern], then we’re showing you Elsinore [with ‘Bourne Legacy’]. You thought you were seeing something you weren’t. What if there’s a much larger story? What if Treadstone wasn’t the only black-ops programme?”

As mentioned before, the official Bourne Legacy trailer (and the footage screened at CinemaCon 2012) both back what Gilroy said. The film’s promos to date have also revealed that Bourne Legacy overlaps directly with events in the Bourne trilogy. Moreover, it appears that plot points from Bourne Ultimatum reappear in Legacy, in order to set the storyline of the latter in motion.

Producer Frank Marshall also reiterated Gilroy’s comment about how Bourne Legacy (literally) expands the Bourne movie universe:

“You see there are several different programmes in the movie with different skill sets. All possibilities are open. My dream is that in the next one we see Matt and Jeremy team up.”

Damon previously spoke out about Bourne Legacy, saying he felt the series needed a shot of fresh life – after the trilogy had taken Bourne’s identity/amnesia storyline as far as possible (without becoming ridiculous). However, Damon has never dismissed the idea of the Bourne character returning in the fifth installment (in public, that is).

Matt Damon as Jason Bourne

A Damon/Renner union in Bourne 5 will only happen if moviegoers are receptive to Bourne Legacy, as will ultimately be reflected by the box office returns. The overall early consensus, however, seems optimistic-to-positive (based on feedback to Legacy trailers). It helps that Gilroy is an accomplished filmmaker, thanks to his script contributions on the first three Bourne movies, and the Oscar-nominated Michael Clayton (which he wrote and directed).

Personally, this writer is still concerned that Gilroy might’ve gotten too caught up in revising the backstory for Bourne Legacy – enough so the film could suffer from excessive “retconning.” Nonetheless, early footage does seem promising, and Gilroy has impressed with his plans to changeup the action in Legacy, so as to reflect the non-fractured mindset of Renner’s character. Hence, there’s good reason to be hopeful.

To top all that off – check out some exclusive Bourne Legacy images (from the next issue of Empire Magazine):

The Bourne Legacy opens in theaters around the U.S. on August 10th, 2012.

Source: Empire