“The franchise could go on indefinitely. I mean hopefully in a non-greedy way. We didn’t wanna be asking you to buy another ticket on the way out of the theater. But it could go on.”
That’s ‘Bourne Legacy’ writer/director Tony Gilroy answering Time magazine’s question on the future of the franchise, and it might be a strange comment to many moviegoers. A lot of people are complaining that this new installment blatantly sets up another sequel and isn’t even enough of a self-contained movie to be satisfying without continuing. A 'Bourne Legacy 2' would presumably provide the third act that this fourth film is lacking, according to its critics.
Regardless of whether or not Gilroy intended to call for a follow-up rather than simply allow for one, Universal will surely want a ‘Bourne 5’ or ‘Bourne Legacy 2’ or whatever non-numerical name they choose to go with next. So we’ve come up with five different directions for the franchise based on how this new one concludes.
Producer Frank Marshall says his dream is that the next film will unite Cross with Jason Bourne (Matt Damon). In true superhero team-up fashion, they’d have to go up against each other first and then settle their differences and come together in opposition to another foe, probably Ed Norton’s character. Maybe Bourne’s reason for coming out of hiding has to do with him feeling responsible for the charges brought upon Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) and seeking further justice if ‘Ultimatum’ villain Noah Vosen (David Strathairn) is indeed reinstated at the CIA.
One of the complaints about ‘Legacy’ is that it’s just a redo of Bourne’s story with a new face. But that’s very far from the truth, as Aaron Cross never loses his memory and therefore is never reborn as a better human being with restored morality. In fact, in the end he is permanently “viraled off” the drugs he’d been taking to maintain the traits of a cold-blooded super soldier, essentially making him more like the Larx agent (Louis Ozawa Changchien) sent to kill him. So it would be interesting if the series followed him further into a state void of emotion and conscience. He should become more of an anti-hero, as a counterpoint to Bourne’s redemption, maybe going out for revenge without any concern for innocent life. And then maybe by the sixth film he’s totally evil and that’s when he goes up against Bourne, whether or not they later team up.
Another way to keep the franchise going in a way that doesn’t repeat itself is to concentrate on Rachel Weisz’s character, Dr. Marta Shearing. She’s really the true protagonist of ‘Legacy’ anyway, since for most of the movie she’s the Bourne parallel, a character who comes to understand what wrongs her job entails and then goes on the run from a government who wants her dead. It’s probably that Aaron Cross isn’t even concerned with taking revenge on the CIA that tried to kill him. But Marta lost her co-worker friends and then was forced to forget about any other ties she has in the real world.
Let’s see Cross killed off in the first few minutes of the next film, as a neat call back and contrast to Marie (Franka Potente) being quickly expended at the beginning of ‘Supremacy.’ Would Cross have trained Dr. Shearing to fight before this happens, though, to make her into a feasible action heroine? Or would the next installment deliver even less action than ‘Legacy’? Either way, we like Weisz’s character a whole lot more than Renner’s, and hope she remains a main character at the very least.
Maybe people didn’t really like Aaron Cross or Marta Shearing enough to continue with either one of them. If Matt Damon is still not interested in coming back yet, Universal could just keep the franchise going without a serial plan. Instead, each new installment is a one-shot story of another agent or soldier from the Treadstone, Blackbriar, Outcome, Larx or other black ops program. Just like Cross and his search for chems, the next film would involve a simple objective, maybe one that’s even more dismissible as a MacGuffin so the script actually focuses on action rather than the needs of a junkie, whom nobody can really invest in.
Of course, many will expect an ‘Avengers’-like endgame in which all these individual stories come together for a big team-up of super soldiers. Because that’s the model of franchise greatness now.
We have to credit critic Jeff Bayer for this last option, because he hinted that ‘Legacy’ is like a remake of ‘Short Circuit’ only with a robot-like soldier who goes rogue called “Outcome-5” instead of a robot soldier who goes rogue called “Johnny-5.” In that case, the next film should obviously see Aaron Cross go to New York (maybe Weisz’s voice is only heard in one bit, uncredited), stay with Fisher Stevens in brownface and ultimately thwart a jewel heist that he’s been unknowingly helping to pull off in the first place. Or Universal can just put the franchise to bed, either way.