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Russo Brothers Respond To New Movie’s Winter Solder Similarities

Exclusive: The Russo Brothers respond to similarities between Netflix’s The Gray Man and Marvel Studios’ Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Directors Joe and Anthony Russo respond to their new movie, The Gray Man, being compared to Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Following work on sitcoms like Arrested Development and Community, the Russo Brothers began their tenure in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with 2014’s The Winter Soldier. As the second solo outing for Captain America, the film picks up with Steve Rogers after he discovers SHIELD may not be what it seems. The Winter Soldier brings back Bucky Barnes as the film’s brainwashed super-assassin, who aids Hydra’s weaponized global surveillance takeover while Cap becomes an enemy of the state. The success of their first action thriller led to the Russo Brothers helming some of Marvel Studios’ most significant films, including Captain America: Civil WarAvengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame.


Three years after Endgame became the highest-grossing film of all time, the Russo Brothers have reunited with Chris Evans in The Gray Man. The film is based on Mark Greaney’s 2002 novel of the same name, which follows CIA agent Court Gentry (Ryan Gosling) after he uncovers agency secrets and becomes the target of a global manhunt orchestrated by his former colleague, Lloyd Hansen (Evans). In addition to Evans and Gosling, its cast includes Ana de Armas, Alfre Woodard, Billy Bob Thorton, and Regé-Jean Page.

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In a Screen Rant exclusive interview, the Russo Brothers discussed their new movie, The Gray Man. When asked about the narrative, thematic, and tonal similarities between The Winter Soldier and The Gray Man, Joe called the pair “companion pieces in a lot of ways.” Read the full quote below:

They’re companion pieces in a lot of ways. They’re action-thrillers that deal with very current thematics [like] espionage and deal with characters with very emotionally complex situations. And they’re both globe-trotting.”

the russo brothers creating the gray man mcu style universe

The similarities between The Winter Soldier and the Russos’ latest thriller are overtly apparent. In addition to featuring Evans, The Gray Man also follows a man who’s forced to go on the run after finding out the good guys aren’t actually the good guys (so to speak). This time around, Evans plays the villain rather than the hero—something that had reportedly been planned since The Winter Soldier. While the Russos were filming their first MCU film, they wrote the first draft of The Gray Man in-between takes, assuming it could be their next film. However, the directors then signed with Marvel Studios for three more films, which meant The Gray Man had to be shelved.

All of the Russo Brothers’ films will likely draw comparisons to their work in the MCU, especially since they continue to cast superhero actors. 2020’s Netflix actioner Extraction (on which they were producers/writers) starred Thor’s Chris Hemsworth, and 2021’s Cherry starred Spider-Man: No Way Home’s Tom Holland. While those films certainly did well, they did not reach the critical acclaim of a film like The Winter Soldier, which some consider the MCU at its best. If The Gray Man can tap into that magic, albeit differently, it may solidify the Russos’ future outside of the superhero genre. If it can’t, the Endgame directors have teased an MCU return.

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