TV veterans and brothers Anthony and Joe Russo made their claim to fame helping create, run, write and direct Arrested Development and Community, hit comedies with loyal niche followings. Their work on those shows, most notably Community "where no genre goes untouched" caught the attention of Marvel Studios president of production and super producer Kevin Feige and in turn landed them their big budget feature debut with Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
The modern-set sequel to The First Avenger served as a bridge film between The Avengers and this summer's upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron, and helped reshape the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Debuting in theaters outside of the traditional summer blockbuster season where Marvel usually positions their films, Captain America 2 still went on to break box office records while winning over critics (89% on Rotten Tomatoes). Needless to say, it wasn't surprising to hear that the Russos were in talks to helm the at-the-time-untitled Captain America 3 before its predecessor even met the public moviegoing audience.
Taking that one step further, rumors that Joss Whedon might be stepping away from the MCU after Avengers 2 have turned into quotes from him directly saying that he's almost certainly done and are helping fuel reports that Marvel wants Anthony and Joe Russo to lock-in long-term and help guide Phase 3 of the growing franchise. For months, multiple sources have indicated what the Russos are going to take the reins from Whedon and direct The Avengers 3 & 4 (Avengers: Infinity War).
BD has confirmed from their source that they have just closed that deal. The Russos are going to shake up the franchise again next summer with Civil War, a film which reportedly may include more Avengers than ever, and continue the bigger picture story with the two-part Infinity War which will shoot in 2016-17 for releases in 2018-19.
The news comes as no surprise since much of what's transpired lately from the Marvel camp was leaked via last year's infamous hack of Sony Pictures, where documents and emails confirmed that the Russos were practically a lock to direct Avengers 3 & 4 and that they were in talks with Sony about helping produce new Spider-Man movies under a Sony-Marvel partnership. Of course, since then Marvel and Sony did announce an official partnership revealing that a new Spider-Man would debut in an MCU film (most likely the Russos' Captain America: Civil War and potentially Age of Ultron) before getting his own new solo movie in summer 2017, followed by spinoffs set within the same world as The Avengers.
The Russos have also since signed a three-year production deal with Sony which also involves a new Ghostbusters movie - so film fans keeping an eye on these developments are seeing the puzzle pieces coming together. When it comes to Spider-Man joining the Marvel movie family, the Russos will largely be directing his involvement, and if not, producing - especially given that other rumors pointed towards Spidey being the face of The Avengers in Infinity War - Part 1 while the other main heroes are away.
The big question now is where Whedon will end up next. Will he pursue other passions? More indie projects (like Much Ado About Nothing)? Could he write/direct a different project for Marvel? Could he return to focusing on TV? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” stars Robert Downey Jr., who returns as Iron Man, along with Chris Evans as Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk. Together with Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, and with the additional support of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/War Machine, Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill and Stellan Skarsgård as Erik Selvig, the team must reassemble to defeat James Spader as Ultron, a terrifying technological villain hell-bent on human extinction. Along the way, they confront two mysterious and powerful newcomers, Wanda Maximoff, played by Elizabeth Olsen, and Pietro Maximoff, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and meet an old friend in a new form when Paul Bettany becomes Vision.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron releases in theaters on May 1 2015, followed by Ant-Man on July 17 2015, Captain America: Civil War on May 6 2016, Doctor Strange on November 4 2016, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on May 5 2017, Spider-Man on July 28, 2017, Thor: Ragnarok on November 3 2017, Avengers: Infinity War - Part 1 on May 4 2018, Black Panther on July 6 2018, Captain Marvel on November 2 2018, Avengers: Infinity War - Part 2 on May 3 2019 and Inhumans on July 12, 2019.