It turns out Marvel wanted Jay and Mark Duplass to direct a movie for them. The Duplass brothers are rather prolific artists who have created two HBO TV shows (Togetherness, Room 104) and written, directed and/or starred in several noteworthy indie films over the past decade (Baghead, Jeff Who Lives at Home, Creep, and so on). They're also the sort of outside the box choices to direct a big budget superhero movie that Marvel Studios has increasingly gone with for its Marvel Cinematic Universe films in recent years.
At this point, the list of filmmakers that passed on MCU movies is as interesting and varied as the list of those who signed on. Directors Fede Alvarez and Ava DuVernay are on the record as having declined offers to direct a Marvel film, whereas onetime indie film darlings Ryan Coogler and Taika Waiti have practically become household names thanks to their MCU offerings. Jon Watts and James Gunn also made the jump from offbeat indie fare to directing blockbusters with nine-digit budgets thanks to the MCU, and it turns out the Duplass brothers once had the chance to do the same.
During an interview with Vulture, the Duplass brothers (Mark specifically) revealed "there was a moment where Marvel was interested in us taking on one of their properties. It would have been a $150 to $180 million budget and about three years of our lives." The brothers refrained from revealing what the film was and admitted that, as "incredible" as the opportunity was, they didn't want to make that sort of commitment to a single big-budget movie:
Mark: To be a little Sundance filmmaker tapped by Marvel felt incredible. But the amount of stuff we could make over those three years, the relationships we could forge with younger filmmakers...
Jay: We’d have to give that all up.
The Duplass brothers further acknowledged the intense pressure that comes with a Marvel film, and took the time to praise Coogler for handling Black Panther as well as he did:
Mark: [Ryan Coogler] was also carrying sociopolitical weight on his shoulders with Black Panther. Unbelievable. And my God, he’s only 31 years old.
Jay: The problem was, by the time Mark and I were making movies, we already had kids. We were changing diapers and making lunches, so we couldn’t be the concubine of a studio at this stage in our lives.
The Duplass brothers have worked with actors from Guardians of the Galaxy (John C. Reilly) and Ant-Man in the past (Judy Greer), but Spider-Man: Homecoming feels like it could be the mystery Marvel film in this case. That movie's coming of age comedy/drama vibe fits the Duplass' style nicely and would have reunited them with Marisa Tomei, who costarred in their 2008 film Cyrus. Then again, Waiti wasn't exactly an obvious choice to take on a Thor film before Thor: Ragnarok, so it's possible Marvel had something else entirely in mind for the Duplasses.
Moreover, at the end of the day, some franchises are a better fit for certain storytellers than others. DuVernay, for example, has said she's not interesting in directing a Star Wars movie and is now developing DC's New Gods instead. The Duplass brothers, on the other hand, might be the sort of filmmakers that are just better off playing in their own sandbox rather than someone's else's. Of course, if the Duplasses ever change their minds, there's nothing to stop them from signing on for a Phase 4 MCU movie, should Marvel come knocking again.
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019