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'Avengers: Endgame' co-director Joe Russo warns multiverse could be too much of a good thing

Will too many realities make audiences sick?

By Josh Weiss
Joe Russo Dr Strange Header GETTY PRESS

You know how when you were a kid and your parents said that eating too much candy would make you sick? Well, that might also be the case with infinite realities and moviegoing audiences. Taking part in a recent conversation at the 2022 DICE Summit in Las Vegas, filmmaker Joe Russo warned against the dangers of an oversaturated market with regards to Hollywood's current fascination with the multiverse.

"The corporate agenda is: Do you like chocolate ice cream? Well here's chocolate ice cream with sprinkles, here's chocolate ice cream with fudge...It's their job to turn the money printer on," said Russo (via IGN), who co-directed Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame with his brother, Anthony. "It's the creative's job to say, 'Well sh**, I don't know if I want to watch that.'"

Marvel Studios and DC Films will bust their respective multiverses wide open this year with Sam Raimi's Doctor Strange sequel and Andy Muschietti's standalone Flash project. Both movies are expected to feature a number of high-profile cameos you can only pull off with the many worlds interpretation. The cinematic ambition of team-up movies like the Avengers quadrilogy or 2017's Justice League don't really cut the mustard anymore. Viewers want the ante to be upped and Hollywood is willing to do just that with the promise of endless possibilities and the nostalgic return of fan favorite characters we never thought we'd see on the big screen again like Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man and Michael Keaton's Bruce Wayne.

The big question is this: what will these companies do when the multiverse fad starts to wear thin and profits begin to decline? What happens when the proverbial candy rots our teeth and makes us sick? "Too much of one thing is a bad thing, but I think there are enough creators and innovators in the space where you can expect to be surprised," Joe continued. "Just don't expect corporations to surprise you."

Of course, Marvel and DC won't have to worry about losing their patrons anytime soon since comic book films and television shows continue to dominate the cultural discourse (not to mention box office and streaming service numbers). All those parallel dimensions — enough to make our heads spin — are here to stay and probably won't be going anywhere for the next decade as the MCU sets up Avengers: Mayhem in the Multiverse or whatever big crossover event is next on the docket.

"The multiverse is coming up in a big way," Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige said last summer. "There’s interconnectivity there that people have already started to see and suss out, and I had a meeting this morning with the whole broad Marvel Studios team, going through the multiverse and the rules of the multiverse and exactly how to really deliver on the excitement surrounding the multiverse."

Ezra Miller made a similar remark at DC FanDome 2020 while discussing Barry Allen's long-awaited solo feature: "By opening that door that Flashpoint did in the comics, all of these stories and characters can start to collide."