Martin Scorsese’s recent comments about the Marvel movies not being cinema, something he’s since doubled down on, have now been supported by fellow director Francis Ford Coppola. The filmmaker behind The Godfather movies, Apocalypse Now, and many other pictures, added his views to Scorsese’s as part of an interview after receiving the Prix Lumière award in Lyon. Coppola went even further in his response to the MCU though, describing the movies as “despicable.”
Speaking to journalists, Coppola explained his perspective as so:
“When Martin Scorsese says that the Marvel pictures are not cinema, he’s right because we expect to learn something from cinema, we expect to gain something, some enlightenment, some knowledge, some inspiration. I don’t know that anyone gets anything out of seeing the same movie over and over again. Martin was kind when he said it’s not cinema. He didn’t say it’s despicable, which I just say it is.”
Coppola’s strong words only add to what’s become a running debate over whether the enormously successful Marvel films of the last decade can actually be called cinema, or something else entirely. Coppola’s criticism of the MCU producing the same movies again and again is especially harsh, given that the producers behind the series have arguably found a successful formula that’s delivering well-crafted pictures within a shared universe.
Those hitting back at these comments, including Kevin Smith, are right to point out that filmmakers like Scorsese or Coppola underestimate the emotional attachment audiences have to the MCU and these characters. Furthermore, MCU directors like James Gunn have noted the irony of Scorsese dismissing Marvel films without actually seeing them, a problem that caused release issues with Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ.
The new remarks by Coppola mean that this particular debate is going to rumble on though, with presumably more directors being asked to give their thoughts on the Marvel movies. What seems especially odd is that different filmmakers can’t accept a broad-based definition of cinema, or that the MCU has in its own way brought people back to theaters in a time of immense competition for their attention.