Earlier today, we reported on a Latino Review floated rumor claiming that the secret reason Bourne 5 was delayed from summer 2015 to summer 2016 was to accommodate the triumphant return of Matt Damon's Jason Bourne to the franchise. While this would contradict Damon's previous assertions that he would only return to the series if his friend Paul Greengrass came back to the director's chair, it certainly wouldn't be the first instance of backpedaling in Hollywood history.
Unfortunately for fans, longtime Bourne producer Frank Marshall has seen fit to shoot down the prospect of Damon returning, having told THR "It's simply not true," while once again emphasizing that the film will focus on Jeremy Renner's character Aaron Cross, who was introduced in the 2012 installment The Bourne Legacy. Those with good memories might recall that Marshall also previously indicated that Renner's Legacy costar Rachel Weisz, would also be back in Bourne 5, though it's not clear if that still remains the plan.
Marshall described the status quo for Bourne 5 as follows:
"[Director] Justin Lin is working with Andrew Baldwin on an Aaron Cross script/story that they pitched us a few months ago. I talk to Justin all the time and the script is not ready. It's a summer movie, and if we don't start preproduction now, we can't make next summer. Therefore, it's a wise decision to move to 2016."
That seems like a pretty unequivocal denial, and considering Latino Review's spotty track record with accuracy in the past, it's really not a huge surprise. Still, many Bourne devotees were hoping this rumor would turn out to be true, as Matt Damon's return to the series has been on top of fan wishlists since almost the moment he left. Despite Jeremy Renner's best efforts, a large portion of the Bourne fandom simply refuses to accept anyone but Damon in the lead role, especially since Bourne Legacy saw fit to use the Bourne title while not actually containing a character with that name.
On the other hand, there is a considerable possibility that Marshall's statement is simply a public denial meant to provide a smokescreen for what would surely be a blockbuster Jason Bourne/Aaron Cross team-up. One can imagine the ecstatic reaction when the first trailer for Bourne 5 debuts, and Matt Damon appears on-screen as Jason Bourne for the first time in almost a decade. That buzz would likely be multiplied tenfold if the fans had no expectation that Damon would be involved with the film.
Another possibility is that Damon returning may be the plan, but it's not set in stone yet. Studios and producers never take kindly to publicly confirming possibilities, and always prefer to hold off on making any announcements until after all the I's have been dotted and T's crossed. Considering Damon's previously noncommittal stance on playing Jason Bourne again, he could very well be in talks, but unsure as to whether he wants to proceed yet.
As with every juicy rumor, we can all speculate about this until we're collectively blue in the face. For now though, the only official word on the subject is from Marshall, and he says Damon is out of the picture. Was the rumor just another case of wishful thinking? Are you interested in checking out Bourne 5, even without Matt Damon?
Bourne 5 hits theaters on July 15, 2016.