Even though it doesn’t always seem to be the case, Hollywood can surprise us with new material. Whether it be original scripts or sourced material, Hollywood has been known to pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat. Case in point: The Gray Man. Mark Greaney’s debut novel was published in 2009 and has since become a best-selling series about a freelance assassin and ex-CIA operative named Court Gentry. To date, Greaney has published nine novels in the series, making it ripe for a movie franchise.
Is this the beginning of a beautiful relationship? Netflix is hoping so. Brothers Joe and Anthony Russo, they of Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame fame, have been tapped to reunite with Captain America himself, Chris Evans. They’ll bring about Netflix’s most financially ambitious project, turning The Gray Man into a possible James Bond-like franchise. Not only has Netflix landed the Russos and Evans, but they have also pulled in Ryan Gosling to be the lead in the possible franchise. Rumor has it that Netflix is ponying up $200 million to get this franchise rocking.
This initial entry into the possible spy franchise will pit Gosling’s Court Gentry versus Evans’ Lloyd Hansen as Hansen pursues Gentry across the globe. In The Gray Man Gentry and Hansen have a history as they spent quality time together in the CIA. For Ryan Gosling, it is expected that he will return for multiple installments of the budding franchise.
This is not the first time The Gray Man was under consideration for either a one-off movie or a franchise. Years ago, the idea was being developed as a Brad Pitt vehicle for New Regency. James Gray had been slated to helm the picture, but that fell apart. The Russo’s have since taken and been developing the project.
Anthony Russo told Deadline of The Gray Man, “The movie is a real mano a mano between those two great actors who represent two different versions of the CIA, in what it can be, and what it can do. For those who were fans of Captain America: Winter Soldier, this is us moving into that territory in more of a real-world setting. That’s what this movie really means for us.”
Brother Joe spoke to Deadline about the large scale of The Gray Man, “The intention is for it to be competitive with any theatrical, and the ability to do with Gosling and Evans is a dream for us. The idea is to create a franchise and build out a whole universe, with Ryan at the center of it. We have all committed to the first movie, and that’s got to be great to get us to the second movie. These are master assassins, and Gosling’s characters gets burned by the CIA and Evans’ character has to hunt him down. We have a great working relationship with Netflix, and we go back almost 20 years with Scott Stuber. We formed AGBO to be an agnostic storytelling company, where we figure out the best platform. We think Netflix is the perfect place for this film.”
Netflix, based on their financial contribution to The Gray Man, looks to be all in on what the Russo’s hope to accomplish. This is just another in the long line of projects the popular duo is associated with. Under their AGBO shingle, the Russos have many irons in the fire. They recently finished Extraction with Chris Hemsworth for Netflix and are now working on a Tom Holland movie Cherry. They also just finished Relic, City of a Million Soldiers and, in a separate deal with Amazon Studios, are working on Citadel. By the way, the brothers are also at Disney working on the live-action Hercules and dealing with Netflix one more time, developing the novel Exit West, which they just so happen to be teaming up with Michelle and Barack Obama’s Higher Ground Productions.
Back to The Gray Man, with nine novels at their disposal, material should not be hard to come by and with Netflix’s investment, it looks like the Russo’s, Evans, and Gosling may have something big to work with.