In the film industry, the creators of the highest-grossing films of all time have traditionally held a significant role as mentors to aspiring artists.
These directors, such as George Lucas after the success of Star Wars, Steven Spielberg following Jaws, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial and Jurassic Park, and James Cameron with the record-breaking Avatar franchise, have valuable insights into the industry having achieved success through hard work and dedication.
Why The Russo Brothers Aren’t Worth Listening to
However, despite their outstanding accomplishments, the Russo Brothers, Joe and Anthony, who helmed the Avengers franchise, should not be considered authorities on the future of filmmaking. While their films have been commercially successful, they lack a unique creative style and originality. The Russo Brothers’ contribution to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is due to the creative vision of Kevin Feige and the performances of talented actors rather than their directorial choices.
Their non-Marvel films, such as Netflix’s The Gray Man and the Extraction series, are also uninspired and forgettable. Even their attempts at branching out into different storytelling, such as Apple TV+’s Cherry and Amazon’s Citadel, have been poorly received by critics and audiences.
Furthermore, the Russo Brothers’ opinions on the future of the film industry are disheartening, as they suggest that artificial intelligence could soon be writing Hollywood films. As such, their lack of concern for quality and originality should not be heeded by new filmmakers entering the industry.
While past successful filmmakers have offered valuable insights into the industry, it is important to recognize that not all directors are equally qualified to offer guidance. Aspiring artists should seek out mentors who prioritize creativity, originality, and a unique vision.
Traditionally, the filmmaker or creative team behind the highest grossing films of all time tend to hold a “godfather”-type role in the industry and offer insights to younger artists attempting to establish themselves. The directors of the most commercially successful films would obviously have a thing or two to say about the industry, as they have cut their teeth doing the hard work that it takes to ramp up a major production. In the wake of the success of Star Wars, George Lucas held this role; Steven Spielberg made similar proclamations about the state of cinema following the success of Jaws, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, and Jurassic Park.
Currently, James Cameron has a monopoly on the highest grossing films of all time, as it doesn’t seem like any other film will top the nearly $3 billion grossed by the original Avatar. Avatar: The Way of Water also crossed the $2 billion mark to become the third highest-grossing film of all time, and Cameron’s 1997 film Titanic still holds the #4 spot over 25 years since its initial theatrical release. When it comes to domestic gross, J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens holds the #1 spot by a wide margin; The Force Awakens is also #5 on the all-time charts.
While this would seemingly make Cameron and Abrams the best people to listen to about the future of filmmaking, the Russo Brothers — Joe Russo and Anthony Russo — have recently been making a lot of statements about the future of the industry thanks to the high placement of Avengers: Infinity War (#6 all-time, #8 domestic) and Avengers: Endgame (#2 all-time and domestic) on both charts. Here’s why they’re not worth listening to.
The Marvel Films Are a Writing and Producing Achievement
No one can doubt the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Not only is it the most commercially successful film franchise of all time, but it’s often been one of the best. As much as some critics would decry “superhero fatigue” as the biggest issue that the film industry is facing, many of the Marvel films such as Iron Man, The Avengers, the Captain America trilogy, and the Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy represent the best of what studio commercial filmmaking can be. While the Russo Brothers may not have made anything as hilarious as Thor: Ragnarok or as relatable as Spider-Man: Homecomingthe films that they’ve made in the MCU have been generally fairly strong.
However, the success of the Russo Brothers-directed films, such as Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, and the last two Avengers films, are not the result of anything that they contributed. The films feel like they are part of a major television show, where different chess pieces are moved around; indeed, the films that the Russos directed succeeded due to the creative vision of Kevin Feige and the charisma of the performances by actors like Chris Evans and Jon Favreau. Aesthetically, they’re nothing but elevated television productions, as they feel like the sort of “for hire” work that the Russos may have contributed during their years working in television.
The issue with the Russos’ Marvel films is that they lack a creative style of their own. Even those that aren’t a fan of what James Gunn did with the Guardians of the Galaxy films can respect that they are certainly the product of a singular creative vision; the same can be said of Taika Waititi’s Thor films and Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther films. The best moments in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame are because of the writing and acting, and not the directorial choices.
Their Non-Marvel Films Are Not Strong
Movie fans just need to look at the Russo Brothers’ work without the guiding wisdom of Kevin Feige to see how bland their style is. The Russos were granted a significant budget by Netflix to produce and direct a new action franchise with The Gray Mana film that manages to waste the charisma and talents of Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, and Ana de Armas among others. Even though the film is clearly trying to emulate the style of 1990s action blockbusters, it has none of the memorable characters, whimsical dialogue, or creative set-pieces that could be found in a film directed by John Woo, Kathryn Bigelow, Michael Bay, or the Wachowski sisters. Similarly, their work on the Extraction films represents the same issue; while the two installments in the Netflix film series feature great action, there’s nothing memorable about the story or characters at all.
The attempts that the Russos have made to branch out into different types of storytelling are equally embarrassing. Their Apple TV+ film Cherry was given a prime “award season” release date and was clearly vying for the attention of the Academy Awards, but the unwatchable action drama was completely forgotten amidst a sea of content. The Russo Brothers have almost made a habit of creating the blandest possible content for major streaming services, as their poorly-reviewed Prime Video original series Citadel clearly did not generate the type of attention that the platform was looking for. Any of these networks, streaming platforms, and studios would be lucky to have a sort of creative auteur like Abrams or Cameron behind their projects.
Their Opinions About the Future of Filmmaking Are Disheartening
The opinions that Anthony and Joe Russo have shared about the future of film industry should be a warning side to moviegoers who still seek creativity in major Hollywood productions; by bending the line between “film” and “television,” the Russo have created nothing but a forgettable string of content that is doomed to be forgotten within the archives of a streaming service. They’ve even predicted that artificial intelligence could write Hollywood films in the near future. If the artists behind these projects seemingly don’t care about their quality, then there’s no reason that they deserve any attention from filmmakers who are venturing into the industry for the first time.