Jay and Mark Duplass are writers, actors, directors, producers and a highly prolific pair of brothers.
These guys are famous for smaller budget independent films (Safety Not Guaranteed, The One I Love) and niche television shows (Togetherness, Room 104).
If there is what mst filmmakers in their positions would do, it is to jump at the opportunity when Marvel Cinematic Universe came calling. However,the Brothers Duplass are not most filmmakers.
In a new interview with Vulture, the brothers reveal that Marvel did take an interest in them at one point. As Mark says, “It would have been a $150 to $180 million budget and about three years of our lives.” Jay adds in, “We own you.”
For a quick comparison, their film The One I Love had an estimated budget of $100,000 total.
They were asked what the property was that Marvel was thinking of them for, but Jay responds that it would be “impolite” to share that information. It wouldn’t be impolite for us to speculate, however, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.
What Marvel film may have been a good fit for this talented pair of brothers who are used to making independent films? Spider-Man: Homecoming comes to mind, since it’s smaller in scale, not cosmic, and could lend itself to an indie mentality. And speaking of independent filmmakers, Taika Waititi was almost entirely known for indies made in New Zealand before he hit it big (and stole our hearts) with Thor: Ragnarok. In retrospect, it’s hard to imagine that film being anything less than a strictly Taika affair — but who knows, that may not have always been the case.
Though the Duplii decided not to pursue relations with Marvel, they are aware of what a huge honor it is just to be asked. As Mark says, “To be a little Sundance filmmaker tapped by Marvel felt incredible.” Ultimately though, they would have had to give up countless other projects over the three-year time period, and they just weren’t ready to do that.
Did the pressure of making a Marvel film have anything to do with it? Mark says that “Ryan Coogler-level pressure” definitely played a part, adding, “Ryan was also carrying sociopolitical weight on his shoulders with Black Panther. Unbelievable. And my god, he’s only 31 years old.”
It seems wildly unlikely that the Duplass bros would have been in contention to work on Black Panther (just… no) but something like a Duplass Doctor Strange could have possibly worked. Whatever the actual film was, it doesn’t really matter anymore — Marvel seems very happy with their talented roster of directors, and the Duplass Brothers are free to be themselves. And the MCU already has a duo of directing brothers with the Russos, and they’re doing pretty well.