Why Doesn’t Anyone Want These Jeremy Renner-Starring Action Franchises?

By  · Published on September 16th, 2014

Universal Pictures

Let’s take a journey back in time. The year? 2010. Hot off The Hurt Locker (and reasonably hot off The Town), Jeremy Renner looked poised to break out in a big way. He was going to be Hawkeye. He was going to be the new Jason Bourne. He was going to take over the Mission: Impossible franchise. It was going to be Jeremy Renner’s world, and we were all just going to live in it (and buy lots of movie tickets while living in it). It was going to be great.

It didn’t happen.

The literal promise of Renner’s breakout did come true – he is Hawkeye in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he took over the Jason Bourne franchise, he was introduced as a new character in the last Mission: Impossible film – but he’s still not the star of any of those franchises. And, based on the latest round of Hollywood news, he’s not going to be.

When Renner was cast to lead The Bourne Legacy, it was viewed as a way to keep the DNA of the Matt Damon-starring franchise intact while spinning off into another series. It would be the same universe – the same Bourne-verse, if you will – but it would free up the franchise for further adventures. It may have been a stop-gap measure (Damon didn’t want to return, which makes it hard to build a film around his character), but it was spun as a good thing. More Bourne! A new dude! Sure!

The Bourne Legacy ended up being the worst performing entry in the franchise, making $113M domestically, far below the series average of $159.6M. Still worse, the movie ended up being, well, kind of silly. While fans have long known that Damon’s Jason Bourne is “not the only one,” the series expansion hinged on a laughable idea – Renner’s Aaron Cross just wants to be smart, okay? – and the “chems!”-screaming, Flowers for Algernon-cribbed story looks and sounds worse and worse after each subsequent watch.

Still, Renner was set to come back for another Bourne film. Uh, until he sort of wasn’t, thanks to yesterday’s news (via Deadline) that Damon was coming back – with director Paul Greengrass! – for another Bourne film, starring, well Jason Bourne. Even more shocking? The outlet reports that Universal is so pleased with this new potential film that they want to stick it in a July 16, 2016 release slot – the same slot that was previously meant to be filled by Renner’s next Bourne film. As of now, that film is still in development.

New Bourne bro? Not so.

But what about Mission: Impossible? Renner’s role in 2011’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol was styled as a passing of the torch. Star Tom Cruise would return, they’d introduce Renner’s William Brandt, have some fun adventures together, and Cruise’s Ethan Hunt would tap out. That didn’t happen (see the pattern here?). The film ended up being a monster hit, reigniting Cruise’s love for big action and his big character (and, in turn, the audience’s love of seeing Cruise in such a role). We’re definitely getting another Mission: Impossible film, but this one will still star Cruise. Renner, like the rest of the franchise’s supporting characters, will come back for some more, decidedly shunted aside fun.

Best Mission: Impossible spy in the biz? Not going to happen.

And what about Hawkeye? He’s certainly an important member of the Avengers team, and Renner knows how to wield a bow, but when it comes time to talk about upcoming and potential Marvel spinoffs – one of our favorite things to do –Hawkeye isn’t even the conversation. He’s second-string.

Hawkeye spinoff? (Chokes laughing.)

Renner’s bid to be the next big action star might be dead – or, at least, hideously impaired – but he’s still got some interesting stuff coming up, like Michael Cuesta’s fact-based Kill the Messenger. Renner admirably played alongside a host of other stars in last year’s American Hustle and The Immigrant. He even appeared on Louie! Still, none of those roles smack of “next big action star,” a moniker that Hollywood may have finally forcefully wrested from Renner’s confused hands. Still, that has to be better than screaming about chems…right?