The enormity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe allows for a diversity of filmmakers. And nothing could be more flattering than receiving a call from Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige to take the helm of a big-budget production. Nevertheless, Safety Not Guaranteed directors Mark and Jay Duplass must have the willpower of Captain America, because they had the fortitude to turn down the offer of a Marvel film.
Speaking with Vulture, the Duplass brothers candidly described how difficult filmmaking is, and the importance of striking a balance between work and life. It was for those reasons, and the freedom they've become accustomed to with indie filmmaking, that led to their decision to say no thanks to Marvel.
"There was a moment where Marvel was interested in us taking on one of their properties," Mark Duplass explained. "It would have been a $150 to $180 million budget and about three years of our lives." Jay Duplass added, “'We own you,' essentially."
Not that they weren't flattered. Mark Duplass said, "To be a little Sundance filmmaker tapped by Marvel felt incredible. But the amount of stuff we could make over those three years, the relationships we could forge with younger filmmakers …"
"We’d have to give that all up," Jay Duplass said.
The brothers also discussed the pressure of taking on a Marvel project. Fan expectations are one thing — and, boy, are those high — but they noted that Ryan Coogler was also taking on some serious sociopolitical pressure with Black Panther. "And my God, he’s only 31 years old," Mark Duplass said. Ultimately, it's about balance.
"The problem was, by the time Mark and I were making movies, we already had kids," Jay Duplass said. "We were changing diapers and making lunches, so we couldn’t be the concubine of a studio at this stage in our lives."
The mark of a good filmmaker may just be knowing what you are good at and where your limits lie. The Duplass brothers may have been able to make an interesting Marvel film, but it wouldn't be worth the sacrifice for them. Of course, we're left to wonder which property they were tapped for. "It would be impolite to say," Jay Duplass said.
The Duplass brothers have a book out in stores now called Like Brothers.