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The Franchise Cast, Director, Showrunner, Plot And More Details

For the longest time, superhero movies have absolutely dominated the box office. Sure, audiences have recently grown tired of comic book fare — see "The Flash" and "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" for proof — but at one point, "Avengers: Endgame" was the highest grossing movie of all time. Everybody on the planet knows Spider-Man, Batman, and Wonder Woman, and despite some of the recent box office woes, powerhouse studios Marvel and DC still have epic adventures planned out for years to come.

Basically, superheroes have been running Hollywood for over a decade. And now, HBO plans on throwing some shade at these caped crusaders. Brought to the small screen by some of the most respected names in Tinseltown, "The Franchise" is going to skewer superheroes, cinematic universes, and the business of big-budget filmmaking. With an absolutely stacked cast, "The Franchise" is sure to be dripping with dark humor and pointed satire, but when exactly can we see HBO's upcoming comedy? Read on for everything you need to know about "The Franchise."

When will The Franchise be released?

We first learned about "The Franchise" in August 2022 when HBO gave the pilot a greenlight to move forward, and the series was officially ordered by the network in August 2023. So when can we expect this superhero satire to debut? Well, according to Variety, the pilot episode has already been filmed, but the project was put on hold due to the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes. Now that both of those work stoppages have concluded, we're hoping filming we'll get underway soon. We'll be sure to keep you updated on this subversive superhero tale.

What is the plot of The Franchise?

According to Variety, "The Franchise" was originally dreamed up by director Sam Mendes (more on him in a minute), so what does the filmmaker have in store for audiences hoping to take superheroes down a peg? Well, in August 2022, we learned the story would revolve around "a hopeful crew trapped inside the dysfunctional, nonsensical, joyous hellscape of franchise superhero movie-making."

A year later, we learned a little more about the plot, with the official logline explaining, "The crew of an unloved franchise movie fight for their place in a savage and unruly cinematic universe." In other words, "The Franchise" is going to pull the curtain back on how these superhero blockbusters are made — shining a light on the creatives who get sucked into the Hollywood machine and find themselves stuck in a miserable world of corporate chaos where movies are merely products and people find themselves asking, "Is this a dream factory or a chemical plant?"

Who is starring in The Franchise?

Just like any major superhero movie, "The Franchise" is absolutely stacked with impressive talent. First up, we've got Billy Magnussen of "No Time to Die," the final "James Bond" film starring Daniel Craig, as well as "Game Night" and "Made for Love." He'll be acting alongside Lolly Adefope, the English comedian who was notably seen in "Shrill," "Ghosts," and the "Don't Hug Me I'm Scared" series.

Fans of Prime Video's "The Boys" will be happy to know that Aya Cash — who memorably portrayed the villainous Stormfront — has joined the project, as has Himesh Patel of "Station Eleven" and "Yesterday." They'll be joined here by Jessica Wynes of "Shaun of the Dead" fame, Isaac Powell of "American Horror Story," and Darren Goldstein of "Ozark."

Daniel Brühl has also signed on as a recurring guest star. While some might remember him best from "Inglorious Basterds," most will recognize the Spanish-German actor as Zemo in Marvel's "Captain America" franchise. Joining Brühl as a guest star is the one and only Richard E. Grant, who's played in projects such as "Withnail & I" and Marvel Studio's "Loki," as a variant of the titular trickster.

Who is showrunning, directing, and producing The Franchise?

When it comes to a certain well-known cinematic universe that rhymes with "larval," the man pulling the strings is just as well-known as any of the stars on the screen. The same will be true for HBO's "The Franchise," as one of the biggest names involved is Armando Iannucci, who serves as producer. 

Iannucci is no stranger to tackling large and complicated ideas with hilarious twists. Joining forces with HBO in 2012 for "Veep," the satirist shed light on the chaotic and often ridiculous inner-workings of the United States government. The series went on to become a critical hit, nabbing over 15 Emmys during its seven season run, making it one of HBO's most popular offerings in the 2010s. Iannucci has since spearheaded the sci-fi satire "Avenue 5" for the network. His cinematic credits include the biting "Death of Stalin," which comedically retells the aftermath of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin's death.

Speaking of pitch-black satires, Jon Brown similarly worked on "Veep" and "Avenue 5," and he'll serve as showrunner here. Brown is perhaps best known for producing "Succession," and he also penned four episodes on the memorably acidic show. As for director, those duties have gone to Sam Mendes, the man who reportedly came up with "The Franchise" in the first place. With several Oscar nominations and over $3 billion worldwide in box office receipts, Mendes stands out as a creative who is always worth watching. He's mostly known for his dramatic offerings like "Jarhead," "1917," "Skyfall," and "Revolutionary Road," so it'll be interesting to see him tackling comedy here.