Director In Focus: The Russo Brothers

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Anthony and Joe Russo are not your usual auteurs. The names behind Captain America: Winter Soldier, the upcoming Captain America: Civil War and the final parts of the Avengers saga, Avengers: Infinity War parts one and two, their names are often overlooked by the stamp of Marvel. The Russo brothers don’t often get a chance for their name to be sent into circulation before, so it is fitting to delve into their career so far and see their influence on modern cinema today.

The brothers began their career at university where they made their first feature Pieces, funded by their own student loans and credit cards. After entering Pieces into a film festival, the pair were approached by film producer Steven Soderbergh who lent a hand with their next film which evolved into Welcome to Collinwood (2002), starring George Clooney, William H. Macy and Sam Rockwell.

After making the pilot episode for television series Lucky, the brothers were then hired to work on the pilot episode for the award-winning series Arrested Development for which they won an Emmy.

However, in 2006 the pair hit bigger depths of fame with the film You, Me, and Dupree (2006)  starring comedy icon Owen Wilson. The film follows chaotic Randolph Dupree (Wilson) as he moves in with newlyweds Carl and Molly Peterson (Matt Dillon and Kate Hudson) and soon sends their whole lives into inevitable disarray. Although the film somewhat flopped in its reception with both audiences and critics, it did well at the box office earning $130,431,368 worldwide, and was also the pipeline into the mainstream for the Russo Brothers.

They were also involved in award winning NBC sitcom Community, serving as executive producers and directors on its first several seasons up to 2012 whilst also directing many episodes of the ABC series Happy Endings from 2011 to 2013.

In July 2013, the brothers wrapped production on Marvel’s Captain America: Winter Soldier, their biggest film to date. It ended up earning $714.4 million worldwide, and was met with positive reception from both critics and audiences alike. The film is a sequel to 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger and follows the destruction of espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D after various conspiracies are uncovered within its networks. In March 2014, the Russo Brothers confirmed they had signed on to direct the third Captain America film, Captain America: Civil War which will be released in the UK in May this year. The brothers have cited Seven (1995), Fargo (1996) and The Godfather (1972) as their influences for the film, describing it as a ‘psychological thriller’.

In March 2015, the brothers were also announced to be directing the final two parts of the Avengers saga which will be released in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

Although overshadowed by the Marvel label, it’s clear there’s really no limit for the Russo brothers. There’s no doubt they’ll go on to direct, produce, perhaps even write massive productions both inside and outside of Marvel, and I, for one, am excited to see where this momentum will take them.

Did you know:

  • The brothers cite M*A*S*H, Taxi, and Cheers as their influences
  • Hollywood legend Ron Howard was one of the people who had early confidence in the brothers’ work
  • The pair were set to direct a spin-off of Ghostbusters (1984) which, reportedly, would star Chris Pratt and Channing Tatum, however the project was cancelled (for now).

Films you should watch: Welcome to Collinwood, Captain America: Winter Soldier

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Third year Film and English student living in D.C., self-proclaimed go-to Edge expert on Cloverfield, Fall Out Boy, and Jake Gyllenhaal. Loves mostly those three things.

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