What do you think of Marvel films? The Marvel Cinematic Universe was an unprecedented project. In 2008, no one knew that Iron Man would spark a global phenomenon. After 11 years, the MCU has now released 23 films and earned $22.5 billion at the box office. We haven’t even started with Phase Four.
Yet quantity doesn’t equal quality. There are many billion-dollar films that critics don’t particularly like in the first place. And for Martin Scorsese, Marvel movies “aren’t cinema.” But is his opinion justified? One Marvel director thinks otherwise.
Martin Scorsese and Marvel Films
Scorsese became the subject of numerous discussions online in early October. Apart from claiming that Marvel films aren’t actual movies, he said they were like amusement parks. In a way, they were just big-budget spectacles people went to see on weekends.
But to be clear, the Taxi Driver director didn’t want to censor Marvel movies. If you like Spider-Man: Far from Home and Avengers: Endgame, support them. Scorsese admires the many skilled people behind these blockbuster movies. But he has no personal interest in them.
Likewise, Scorsese thinks that Marvel films are “invading” cinema as he knows it. He believes that they shouldn’t take up so much space in theaters. According to him, their popularity affects the lifespan and availability of other films in cinemas.
James Gunn to the MCU’s Rescue
Many people were offended at what Scorsese said about Marvel movies. Even celebrities couldn’t help but voice their sentiments. On a similar note, James Gunn wanted to share his views on the matter. For the Guardians of the Galaxy director, we shouldn’t look at superhero films as if they were the same.
Gunn explained his position by recalling older movies. During his grandfather’s younger years, moviegoers saw gangster movies. The adults back then didn’t like these films, but the younger audience appreciated them. And then the same thing happened with westerns and sci-fi space films.
Hollywood produced more films in the same genre, but they had separate identities. Star Wars and 2001: A Space Odyssey explored the universe. But that’s the only common denominator they had. For Gunn, superhero movies today differ from one another — that there are bad and good ones.
He wasn’t mad at Scorsese or even at Francis Ford Coppola who called Marvel movies “despicable”. While he says that there are terrific superhero movies, Gunn knows that not everyone will like them.
Elaborating on Scorsese’s Views
On the 4th of November, Martin Scorsese released an opinion piece at The New York Times. Here, he still said that Marvel movies “aren’t cinema.” But he wanted to clarify his position. How? He told the public about his past: the movies he watched, the directors he admired, and the theater experience back then.
What makes Scorsese so passionate about film is how moviemaking is an art form. For him, cinema had the purpose of revelation. Moreover, cinema was the platform for dissecting human nature. It expanded our understanding of life and beyond with a masterful combination of sights and sounds.
In contrast to these films that he revered, the Marvel movies do nothing for him. While the technical brilliance is there, he feels that the singular vision of an artist isn’t captured in them. It all feels too impersonal and corporatist how Marvel movies require rigorous market research and audience testing.
Thus, Scorsese isn’t actively trying to attack Marvel and Disney. Instead, he’s calling for everyone who loves film to look into the current state of cinema. Are independent films getting enough theaters? Do new filmmakers get enough support from private and public organizations? It’s all worth talking about.