Vin Diesel and STXfilms are teaming up for Muscle, an original action/comedy with franchise potential. Diesel won't be returning as Dominic Toretto until Fast & Furious 9 arrives in 2020, but in the meantime he's starting new franchises like Muscle and giving his pre-existing IPs some tender loving care. In addition to voicing Teenage Groot in Avengers: Infinity War and (maybe?) next year's Avengers 4, the actor has bought the xXx movie rights and will begin shooting Sony's Bloodshot comic book film this summer.
Diesel has mostly stayed away from action/comedies since he made Disney's The Pacifier in 2005, instead focusing his time and effort on his homegrown brands like Fast & Furious, Riddick, and xXx (in addition to voicing Groot in the MCU). The actor's franchise ambitions haven't always panned out over the years (see The Last Witch Hunter), but Muscle sounds like a change of pace from the campy yet otherwise straight-faced genre fare that Diesel has specialized in for the past decade. It's still early days, though, and the film has neither a screenwriter nor a director formally attached at this stage.
Muscle reunites Diesel with STXfilms Chairman Adam Fogelson, who oversaw the fifth, sixth, and seventh Fast & Furious movies back when he was running things at Universal. Marshall director Reginald Hudlin and NAACP Image Awards producer Byron Phillips brought the project to STX and will produce the movie with Diesel and One Race Films' Samantha Vincent. In an official statement, Fogelson describes Muscle as "the perfect blend of action and comedy that [Diesel's] millions of devoted fans around the world have come to love him for," and emphasizes its potential to become Diesel's next "signature" franchise.
STXfilms has a couple of minor franchises (Bad Moms, Den of Thieves) and critical darlings to its name already (The Edge of Seventeen, Molly's Game), but Muscle appears to be part of a greater effort to put their name firmly on the map. The studio made a stab at a high profile franchise with last year's Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, but the film's box office returns weren't enough to cover its high cost. However, with Diesel manning the ship, things could turn out differently with Muscle.
With Fast & Furious 10 slated to be the final Fast & Furious movie, Bloodshot and Muscle could give Diesel franchises to carry him into the future once his days of playing Dominic Toretto are done. The actor may yet make another xXx movie and maybe even a fourth Riddick, but those series are always going to be cult properties in the U.S. (The global box office, to be fair, is another story.) Muscle, on the other hand, could be the re-invention that Diesel needs to keep his star going strong in the years ahead.
We will bring you more details on Muscle as they become available.