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The Russo Brothers are secretly working on a new franchise

Their work on the Marvel Cinematic Universe may be done, but Joe and Anthony Russo may be bringing their magic to another tentpole franchise.

During a Reddit AMA, the ace directing duo teased that they are already hard at work developing an existing property — one that they're apparently not quite ready to share with fans. 

Asked what other IPs they would be interested in exploring now that they've conquered the world with four of the most lauded (and profitable) entries in the most successful film franchise of all time, the Russos responded succinctly. "Interesting question," they said. "We are quietly, and secretly, working on one right now..."

Well, we suppose it's not so secret anymore, but that sure isn't a heck of a lot of information. Since it's anybody's guess what, exactly, the Russos could be cooking up in terms of their next big franchise, let's take a look at what we already know about their future big-screen endeavors.

First off, we can easily conclude that whatever project it is the Russos were referring to with their statement, the public has caught nary a whiff of it at this point. We know of exactly one feature film the brothers are attached to direct: Cherry, which will star Marvel alum Tom Holland and will focus on the plight of a heroin-addicted Iraq War vet who turns to robbing banks to support his habit. This certainly sounds intriguing, but it goes without saying that it's in no way franchise material.

So, in terms of high-profile properties, have the Russos let anything slip publicly that might offer us a clue? Tantalizingly, some of the only such remarks they've made have been in regard to potential Marvel projects. While the pair have stated that they have no plans "for now" to make any more Marvel movies, that doesn't mean they've ruled out a return to the fold at some point down the road. Speaking with GamesRadar in April, Anthony Russo said, "It certainly may come up in the future at some point. We have a wonderful working relationship with [Marvel Studios] and a great passion for what they're doing."

Consider, then, that during the same AMA, the pair were asked which superhero who is not currently part of the MCU they'd be interested in tackling, given the opportunity. Their response was, again, brief and to the point: "We've always loved us some Wolverine."

Now, this was almost certainly a throwaway remark — but when faced with the difficult task of gently folding Logan and the rest of the X-Men into the MCU, Marvel Studios could do a lot worse than to put it in the hands of the guys who pulled off the immense juggling act that was Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. When that time comes, it would surprise nobody if Mighty Marvel were to give the Russos a call — but since that time won't be coming for at least two or three years, there's absolutely no way that this is the franchise the Russos were referring to.

Ditto for Secret Wars, another potential Marvel project that the Russos have expressed interest in at multiple points in the past. The iconic '80s storyline, in which the Beyonder gathers a phalanx of heroes and villains for an epic throwdown on the planet known as Battleworld, could finally be done justice on the big screen now that Marvel was reacquired the rights to all of the myriad characters involved thanks to its mega-deal for the film and television assets of Fox Studios. It's a story that involves virtually every character worth mentioning in the Marvel Universe, and the Russos have obviously proven themselves adept at handling huge event films stuffed to the brim with characters — but again, with the integration of the former Fox properties into the MCU still years down the road, it's highly doubtful that Secret Wars is any more than a twinkle in Kevin Feige's eye at this point.

We do know that the brothers have acquired the rights to make big-screen adaptations of the '70s anime series Battle of the Planets and the cult First Comics series Grimjack — both of which have loads of franchise potential — but their involvement with these projects is obviously no secret. So, what is this mysterious new property that the Russos are keeping tucked away under their hats?

Unfortunately, we're just going to have to wait to find out — and if we know these guys, and we think we do, it'll doubtless be something completely out of left field, yet uniquely suited to their considerable talents. Something which combines their talent for managing huge ensemble casts with their love of action, intrigue, and human drama. Something with enough existing source material that the duo can draw on it to mine rich, compelling stories for years...

Well, all the pieces fit. Attention, everybody: we're pretty sure the Russos are working on a big-screen take on Barney and Friends. You heard it here first.