Actors are not the only ones preparing for life after Marvel. Avengers: Infinity War directors Joe and Anthony Russo will be spending more time on their studio venture, AGBO. They will have a couple familiar faces in the office, now that they’ve hired Marvel Studios’ most prolific writers, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.
Markus and McFeely will serve as the Co-Presidents of Story. They will be tasked with overseeing the development of AGBO’s full slate while also writing tentpole films and their own passion projects. The Russo Brothers are very confident in the writing duo after working with them on four films for Marvel Studios.
Markus and McFeely wrote all three Captain America films, the latter two of which were directed by the Russos. They also wrote Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4, both directed by the Russos. Markus and McFeely also have a screenplay credit on Thor: The Dark World and have done uncredited work on several other Marvel movies.
As Anthony Russo tells Deadline, all of that Marvel experience will make them a perfect fit for what AGBO wants to build.
“Not only did we make four movies with them at Marvel, we watched them help Marvel with a variety of their other films. We had this experience within Marvel where you’re dealing with a vast number of movies, a large amount of storytelling, and we were able to see their abilities. It wasn’t just making four movies, it was incorporating other franchise narratives. We saw their fluency in dealing with Thor, Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man, Spider-Man and Black Panther, a character that was introduced in the last Captain America. We got a dry run with them over several years. We’re done with our run at Marvel, when we deliver that movie next year. We will have spent seven years with Marvel, and they predated us and were there nine years. We’ve spent a bulk of our career working out a process together that is actually what we hope to do here.”
More on Anthony’s comment about being done with Marvel in a bit.
Joe Russo adds some very high praise, calling Markus and McFeely, “the best writers in town, as smart about storytelling as anyone we’ve worked with.”
Markus and McFeely have really enjoyed working within Marvel’s model. Markus says they will take lessons from it and carry those forward, though without the expectation of replicating all of that success on the same scale.
“I hold no claims to be able to translate Marvel’s success anywhere else, but I’ve observed that it’s a unique combination of leadership, staff and IP. It is also that they make one movie at a time. They don’t say, we’re building an empire of 16 films, here’s when they will come out. That is crazy talk that results in one bad movie and no empire. You have to make one movie the best it can be, completely regardless of any other movie. So you are not holding something back for a future movie that robs the one you’re making, and you can’t say, this doesn’t have to be that great because you are building toward something. Each has to be a great free-standing film or you will never get there.”
McFeely adds the most important factor in Marvel’s success, which is what he and Markus will focus on at AGBO.
“It’s all about character. We’ve always said, we don’t write for Captain America, we write for Steve Rogers, and the idea has been we don’t work in the superhero genre, but rather in genres where there are superheroes. To us it has been about human beings and the decisions they make. That is why we’ve made a good team with the Russos. That is all they’re about. I can’t tell you the meetings we’ve had where Anthony just won’t get off a point because it doesn’t make sense for this character for one damn minute. We’ve been rigorous about this stuff.”
The Russos started their studio venture nearly two years ago, but have been much more active in recent months as production on the next two Avengers movies wrapped. The company name AGBO comes from “Gozie Agbo,” the character name Joe Russo uses when he appears in the Russos’ movies, like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War. Those characters are also identified as Dr. Fine and Dr. Broussard, respectively.
Now, as for Anthony’s comment about the Russos being done with their run at Marvel after Avengers 4, there is no cause for panic. We’ve already known that the Russos are not contracted to do any Marvel films beyond Avengers 4. That does not mean, however, that they will never make another film for Marvel Studios.
The Russo brothers have previously expressed their love of working with Marvel and an openness to make more films with the studio beyond their current contractual obligations. After working on four Marvel films, all in a row, over the course of seven years, however, we can expect them to at least want a long break to focus on their studio and other projects. Any Marvel work they might do in the future would be the better for it.
The same goes for Markus and McFeely. Their new jobs at AGBO won’t leave a ton of time for Marvel scripts, but they have put in almost a decade at the studio and more than earned the right to explore new opportunities. They are two of the best writers to ever work on movies with superheroes and I am excited to see all of the new projects on which they will collaborate with the Russo Brothers.