The internet plummeted into a fit of rage when the legendary Martin Scorsese went after the MCU and called superhero movies “theme parks” that “aren’t cinema.” Now, the Academy-Award winning director is back with a New York Times op-ed piece to further clarify his position.
At first, Marvel fans were absolutely furious with Scorsese and showed their support by standing up for their superheroes. Soon enough, many industry icons answered the call and contributed to the argument of whether Marvel movies have artistic values or not. James Gunn demonstrated respect and said he was disappointed by the director’s remarks, while Taika Waititi responded… well, as Taika Waititi would. Even Natalie Portman, who’s set to reprise her role as Jane Foster in Thor: Love and Thunder, addressed these comments by calling Marvel movies “entertaining” after a long day’s work.
While it’s safe to assume the director has had enough of backlash over his previous remarks, the new essay (titled “Martin Scorsese: I Said Marvel Movies Aren’t Cinema. Let Me Explain”) does nothing but to affirm Scorsese’s hatred of the MCU.
“Some say that Hitchcock’s pictures had a sameness to them, and perhaps that’s true — Hitchcock himself wondered about it.” wrote Scorsese. “But the sameness of today’s franchise pictures is something else again. Many of the elements that define cinema as I know it are there in Marvel pictures. What’s not there is revelation, mystery or genuine emotional danger. Nothing is at risk. The pictures are made to satisfy a specific set of demands, and they are designed as variations on a finite number of themes.”
Scorsese has always been an advocate of the auteur theory that asserts the role of the director as a subjective overseer on many aspects of a movie’s development cycle. And even though there is a certain amount of freedom that Marvel directors can utilize, the stories remain in the service of the brand mythology as a whole.
The acclaimed moviemaker went on to say that Marvel’s triumph in cinema fills him with terrible despair, explaining:
“There’s worldwide audiovisual entertainment, and there’s cinema. They still overlap from time to time, but that’s becoming increasingly rare. And I fear that the financial dominance of one is being used to marginalize and even belittle the existence of the other. For anyone who dreams of making movies or who is just starting out, the situation at this moment is brutal and inhospitable to art. And the act of simply writing those words fills me with terrible sadness.”
Marvel films usually follow a consequence-free formula that ends on a melodramatic showcase of strength by superheroes. According to Scorsese, this gives way to artistically shallow and meaningless stories that are detrimental to the future of cinema. Having said that, the director wasn’t reluctant to also give backhanded praise to the people who work on these movies.
“Many franchise films are made by people of considerable talent and artistry. You can see it on the screen. The fact that the films themselves don’t interest me is a matter of personal taste and temperament. I know that if I were younger, if I’d come of age at a later time, I might have been excited by these pictures and maybe even wanted to make one myself. But I grew up when I did and I developed a sense of movies — of what they were and what they could be — that was as far from the Marvel universe as we on Earth are from Alpha Centauri.”
Although many points in the legendary filmmaker’s comments are questionable from certain viewpoints, this new commentary will undoubtedly revitalize the debate throughout social media and among informed experts.
Ultimately, the question of the MCU and its artistic value won’t be determined by the opinions of one person, though. So tell us, do you agree with Scorsese’s observations and remarks about Marvel? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.