The future of the Bourne franchise is in a bit of a precarious place. The release of “The Bourne Legacy” showed that Paramount was prepared to continue the franchise without Matt Damon in the lead. However that film did not actually recast the role (ala James Bond,) instead introducing a new character who was part of the same secret government program. It’s been clear that it’s Paramount’s hope to bring Damon back into the franchise, and that desire has probably increased after the good but not great returns on “The Bourne Legacy.”
However it’s not looking any more likely that Damon will return. In an interview with Deadline.com Damon stuck to the same story he’s had for some time: he’ll come back if director Paul Greengrass does. But beyond simply spouting the same line Damon added an interesting wrinkle. The real issue isn’t that Greengrass won’t return, but rather that neither of them would do it just to continue the franchise. They want to feel like they have a story to tell, and not being able to find that justified story appears to be the true hang-up. Damon even mentioned trying to get Jonathan Nolan’s ideas about what could be done and coming up empty.
Now this conversation with Nolan was highly informal and should not be taken as the Batman screenwriter being in any way directly involved in a future Bourne project. However it does emphasize the fact that for the Jason Bourne character everything was sewn up pretty tightly by the end of “The Bourne Ultimatum.” Nolan is an interesting choice to get an opinion from, since his and brother Christopher’s approach to Batman obviously had to be reconfigured when Heath Ledger’s death meant that he couldn’t use the Joker in the final film. So Nolan clearly had some experience in tough story telling decisions, but couldn’t crack the story on a new Bourne.
Should a suitable story angle ever be found Damon does still sound keen to return. He emphasized his love of the character but it’s that desire to honor what’s already been done that is holding him from returning to the role. The questions now becomes will Paramount continue the spinoff route it started with “The Bourne Legacy,” will the studio recast the role of Jason Bourne or simply reboot the entire thing. Rebooting is certainly an option, especially if the studio decides to stick closer to the original books. Only the first film bore much resemblance to the original novels, the others shared only titles and no other similarities.