“When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”
These famous word were uttered by a biographer in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, when it was revealed that Jimmy Stewart’s character didn’t shoot Liberty Valance as originally thought, but instead it was John Wayne’s character. The biographer ripped up his notes, and when Stewart asks him why they aren’t going to use that he says: “This is the west, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”
It has been relevant ever since. Everyone knows why Jeremy Renner didn’t reprise his role as William Brandt in Mission: Impossible- Fallout, it is because he was filming Avengers: Infinity War for Marvel. Then when Infinity War was released and there was no hide nor hair of Hawkeye, it was thought then, it was for Avengers 4 which shot concurrently. I even mentioned as much in my review for the movie over on my blog.
But a different version of events is coming to light. Apparently Renner could have done both. On the Empire Podcast, Fallout director Christopher McQuarrie detailed the situation with Renner:
“Jeremy had his commitment to Avengers, which ironically they ended up not exercising, and we didn’t know what the [sixth Mission] movie was, so we couldn’t provide a schedule. We needed absolute freedom,” he explained. “The unfortunate thing for Jeremy is that he got caught in this perfect storm of, one can’t use you and one doesn’t know how to, given the massive complications they had with Avengers.”
So the story we all heard is how it started. But McQuarrie elaborated that Jeremy Renner was free, and McQuarrie did have something for him:
“I had this whole idea that the movie would start with the death of a team member,” McQuarrie said. “And of course the first team member that’s always the first guy we talk about killing is Luther. Luther died in the first movie, and he quite famously said to Tom Cruise, ‘Hey man, how come the brother’s always gotta die?’ And Tom said, ‘You’re right.’ He was like, ‘Why do I gotta be the bad guy?’ And they made Luther nefarious and then suddenly a good guy, and six movies later it was the smartest question anybody’s ever asked Tom Cruise […] So I said to Jeremy, look we can’t kill Ving, it’s never going to work. No matter how many movies into it, it’s always going to be the same thing. You killed the black guy. And we didn’t think the movie could recover if you killed Benji.”
McQuarrie says that Renner turned him down. Maybe that is for the best. This way, Renner can return to the franchise in the future, in a full and important role. However, maybe he won’t ever return.
Collider points out that McQuarrie did say that Renner grew frustrated with the franchise during Rogue Nation, because the film shot in London but the script was constantly changing. Renner had to keep leaving his family to accommodate the filming, only to find out he wasn’t needed on set right away.
Who knows if that was a factor in his decision or not? Did Jeremy Renner not return to die because he wants to be in the franchise in the future? Or did he not return to die because he wants nothing to do with the franchise anymore?
I personally would love to see Brandt return to the franchise. I love his character, and think he adds a different layer to the team than everyone else.
What do you make of this? Do you think Renner’s involvement would have enhanced the stakes, and the film in general? Or did he make the correct choice?