Russo Bros Still Dreaming About Directing Marvel's Secret Wars Storyline

Bigger than Infinity War, bigger than Endgame.

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The Russo brothers, Joe and Anthony, have helmed some of Marvel's biggest and most successful films. After putting together Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, the two stepped away, seemingly for good. But could they come back? The right project, Marvel's Secret Wars, has them dreaming, they said speaking to Deadline.

"Our love for Marvel is based on the books that we read as kids, the books that we fell in love with," Joe Russo said. "The one series that we adored growing up was Secret Wars. It's incredibly ambitious. It would be bigger than Infinity War and Endgame. But it's a massive undertaking. Those two movies were very hard to make. So trying to imagine making another two movies even bigger than those two? We’re going to have to sleep on that."

The MCU is growing faster than ever as Marvel Studios tries to catch up with everything it had planned during the pandemic, and Phase 4's runtime is already on the verge of topping that of the first three phases combined thanks to the glut of Disney+ shows released so far. The studio has introduced characters like US Agent, Clea, Starfox (not that Starfox), and more through those shows and post-credit scenes. Now that an MCU character finally uttered the M-word at the tail end of the Ms. Marvel finale, it feels like the expanded universe is ready to burst at the seams despite feeling less interconnected than ever.

What the heck is Secret Wars?

Secret Wars could be the biggest Marvel story yet, or it could put a spotlight on all of the MCU's issues. Secret Wars was a huge crossover story that ran for almost a year from May 1984 through April 1985 and had the Beyonder, an almost infinitely powerful being, pulling many of Marvel's greatest heroes and villains to a planet called Battleworld, made up of pieces of a bunch of other planets, including Earth's own Denver, Colorado. There, the Beyonder wished for these mighty warriors to battle it out for his amusement. The heroes included the Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four, and some independent operators like Spider-Man. The list of villains featured Doctors Doom and Octopus, Kang the Conqueror, Ultron, and eventually Galactus.

The series, created by Marvel's then-editor-in-chief Jim Shooter, was massively popular with readers but was ultimately created to sell action figures, with toy company Mattel consulting on design changes, per Shooter himself.

Kenner Toys, Shooter explains, had licensed DC's characters, and so Mattel approached Marvel about licensing their heroes, asking Marvel to put together an event to help launch the line. Shooter wanted to put together "one big, epic story with all of the heroes and villains in it," a theme often requested by younger fans.

Mattel had major input

"We went through a number of ideas for names for the toy line and series," Shooter wrote in his 2011 blog post. "Mattel's focus group tests indicated that kids reacted positively to the words 'wars' and 'secret.'" Along with that, Mattel had a number of other requirements: "Doctor Doom, they said, looked too medieval. His armor would have to be made more high-tech. So would Iron Man's, because their focus groups indicated that kids reacted positively...etc."

Mattel also demanded new fortresses, vehicles, and weapons so that they could sell playsets.

The story was, again, hugely successful, and spawned not only lots of toys but also some of the best-known pieces of Marvel's history; this is where Spider-Man found his black symbiote suit for the first time, long before Eddie Brock would bond with it to become Venom.

Something like Secret Wars could reconnect Marvel's huge gallery of heroes, but could also be a breaking point. It would not only bring many heroes together but also require the commitment of many actors as well.

The Russo brothers are, of course, speaking purely hypothetically here, but it also suggests that bringing Secret Wars to life is something they've spent real time thinking about.

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