Netflix is going through a rough patch, telling employees to “spend our members’ money wisely”, so I guess it’s safe to assume that they consider The Gray Man, the upcoming action film from the Russo Brothers starring Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans’ Mustache, a wise way to spend money because they’ve already got a prequel centered on Evans’ character in the works. There is also a sequel in the planning stages, so they’re going all-in on The Gray Man, trying to build a whole Gray Man cinematic universe with Chris Evans as a key component. I mean, it worked for Marvel.
Evans’ character has been revealed as the villain of The Gray Man, a hitman named Lloyd Hansen. (The mustache, I maintain, is called Gary.) He is described as a “trainwreck of a human being”, and the Hansen-centric prequel is being written by Deadpool scribes Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, so that tells us this will be a garrulous action-comedy in which the main character is aware he is an asshole. Got it. And honestly, not the worst idea. Chris Evans has proven to be as likeable in asshole mode as hero mode, and Reese and Wernick have a strong track record with action-comedies. The only part of this that gives me pause is that Netflix is in tremendous shock right now, and The Gray Man hasn’t even come out yet—they have no idea how it’s going to play.
Will this be the Netflix movie to break through and actually make a mark on the zeitgeist? Or will it be yet another droplet spewed by the content firehose, evaporating almost as soon as it’s launched? We don’t know! No one knows! I understand the impulse—the Russos, Chris Evans, a villain prequel, it’s a heady mix. But Netflix is in such upheaval, one thing they could do to spend their members’ money wisely is SLOW DOWN. Let the movie come out. See how it does. Spend your money—OUR MONEY—on a prequel if and when it’s clear there’s an audience for more of Chris Evans and his villain stache. You know, like how movie studios behave. Because no matter what Netflix says, it IS a movie studio. At some point, they’ve got to start acting like one (besides all the layoffs, I mean). And that means actually letting audiences tell you what they want more of, not trying to out guess us with algorithms, even when one point of data is “Chris Evans with a villain stache”.