As the discourse continues around Martin Scorsese’s criticism of the Marvel franchise, the legendary director himself has offered one more clarification of the comments that sent the internet into a collective meltdown.
By now, you’re likely aware of Scorsese’s heavily circulated remarks from a recent Empire interview, in which the Irishman helmsman argued that Marvel movies aren’t real cinema, likening the films to theme parks and claiming that they don’t try to convey “emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”
The director later expanded on his thoughts in a New York Times op-ed, where he wrote that MCU movies lack “revelation, mystery or genuine emotional danger” and “are designed as variations on a finite number of themes.”
Since then, the filmmaker has made an appearance on Popcorn with Peter Travers, where he touched upon the subject once more. After conceding that some younger viewers may regard superhero movies as cinema, Scorsese explained that he found the genre to be too repetitive:
“It might be cinema to the kids seeing those films, but I don’t get it. Or least let me put it this way: I’ve seen one or two, that’s enough. Because it’s the same thing over and over, you know?”
When asked to provide his own definition of cinema, Scorsese suggested that the best films are the ones that resonate with you and reveal more with each new viewing:
“I think what makes cinema, to me… ultimately, it’s something that, for some reason, stays with you so that a few years later you can watch it again. Or ten years later you watch it again, and it’s different. In other words, there’s more to learn about yourself, or about life. That’s interesting.”
The director then elaborated further on his point, drawing on a couple of examples from the 1960s French New Wave:
“At first you may find that, ‘I’m affected by this film, the camera work is amazing, the actors are terrific, great editing,’ and that sort of thing. But after a certain amount of time, after you get enough of that. For example, Shoot the Piano Player, [François] Truffaut — I thought that was the best. But after a while I realized it’s Jules and Jim. It’s got more depth, you can watch it repeatedly, and you can watch it at different times in your life. The films are the same, you change.”
Though Scorsese’s comments in these last two months have garnered a fair amount of support – including from Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola, who decried the Marvel movies as “despicable” at a recent press event – many members of the MCU camp have been quick to come to the franchise’s defense.
Guardians of the Galaxy helmsman James Gunn, for instance, tweeted last month that he was “saddened” by Scorsese’s judgment of his films, while Thor actress Natalie Portman has argued that “there’s not one way to make art,” and that the Marvel movies provide valuable escapism to filmgoers “after dealing with their hardships in real life.”
No doubt the discourse will continue for a while yet, but in the meantime, Scorsese’s The Irishman is now available on Netflix.