Marvel fans were pleasantly surprised this year when Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which was helmed by virtually unknown directors Anthony and Joe Russo (their most recent claim to fame was directing episodes of Community) turned out to be arguably one of the best standalone films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far. With a tone cleaving closely to that of a classic 70s spy thriller, The Winter Soldier left many moviegoers keen to see what the Russo brothers have planned next.
One movie that's on the horizon for the duo is Captain America 3, for which they have already signed on as directors and are currently working on the story. Since Captain America 3's release date is already set for May 2016 it's safe to assume that this will probably be their next project, but a new announcement from Sony Pictures has revealed what the Russos' next film after Captain America 3 could be.
Variety reports that Sony has optioned the rights to an adaptation of Mark Greaney's thriller The Gray Man, in a which a former CIA agent turned assassin-for-hire called Court Gentry finds himself on the run after being targeted for elimination. Joe Roth and Palak Patel (Snow White and the Hunstman) will produce the film, and Patel was reportedly aggressive in pursuing the Russos, who "fell in love with the story" and are now attached to write and direct.
This isn't the first time that an adaptation of The Gray Man has been attempted. A few years ago the rights were held by New Regency and Brad Pitt was set to play the lead with James Gray directing (which would have been appropriate). The project failed to progress much, however, and when the option lapsed Sony was quick to snap up the movie rights.
Roth made it clear that, since The Gray Man is the first in a four-part book series, Sony is interested in pursuing it as a franchise. Roth said that the intention is for The Gray Man to be the next Bourne Identity, with adaptations of sequels "On Target", "Ballistic" and "Dead Eye" to potentially follow if the first movie is a success.
Of course, first we'll have to wait and see whether this attempt at any adaptation gets any further along than New Regency's did, and since the Russos have to focus on Captain America 3 first it may be some time before production on The Gray Man gets underway. At least that gives Sony some time to work on finding the perfect leading mean. Perhaps Pitt is still interested?
We'll keep you updated on The Gray Man as development continues.