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Thoughts on the Continuing Martin Scorsese Drama Over Marvel Movies

October 21, 2019 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
The Avengers Team Marvel Cinematic Universe

Martin Scorsese never expected his comments about Marvel movies to linger more than a day or so but he finds Hollywood debating the merit of superhero movies and their place at the theaters. 

For every person who supports him, another comes forward to offer a reason why his comments are shortsighted. It’s the nature of the internet and offers a look at how some of the most respected directors, actors, and actresses feel about certain categories. 

Take Francis Ford Coppola. 

“I don’t know that anyone gets anything out of seeing the same movie over and over again,” the famed director said of Marvel movies after he was honored with the Prix Lumière.

Scorsese received a serious backlash for classifying Marvel movies as “not cinema,” and fellow director Coppola agrees.  

Coppola was clear, saying Scorsese is “right” in his stance on Marvel movies. “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,” said the filmmaker. “I don’t know that anyone gets anything out of seeing the same movie over and over again.” 

Coppola didn’t stop there: “Martin was kind when he said it’s not cinema. He didn’t say it’s despicable, which I just say it is.”

Strong words. On the flip, those supporting Marvel have the likes of James Gunn, Josh Whedon, Kevin Smith, and others. 

Scorsese doubled down on his original remarks at a recent screening of The Irishman, reiterating “not cinema” comment. “It’s not cinema, it’s something else,” he said. “We shouldn’t be invaded by it. We need cinemas to step up and show films that are narrative films.”

During BAFTA’s annual David Lean lecture he went on: “Theaters have become amusement parks. That is all fine and good, but don’t invade everything else in that sense. That is fine and good for those who enjoy that type of film and, by the way, knowing what goes into them now, I admire what they do. It’s not my kind of thing, it simply is not. It’s creating another kind of audience that thinks cinema is that.”

Clearly a line has been drawn and while everyone is entitled to their opinion, some are more level-headed than others. Like Natalie Portman. 

“I think there’s room for all types of cinema,” Portman told The Hollywood Reporter at the 6th annual Los Angeles Dance Project Gala. “There’s not one way to make art.”

“I think that Marvel films are so popular because they’re really entertaining and people desire entertainment when they have their special time after work, after dealing with their hardships in real life,” she said. 

While this is sure to die down, it does make you pause and consider how Hollywood views itself from certain angles. The concept of art can’t be slapped with one big label by a small segment. It’s fluid and encompasses areas that even the greats like Scorsese and Coppola can’t comprehend. 

It’s interesting that two filmmakers who have toiled in the Hollywood, making their own way to success, aren’t more open to different ways of entertaining and spreading a message. Maybe operating in the system long enough has made them forget their early years. 

Are Marvel movies grand cinema? Depends on who you ask but if someone is moved by them, then they deserve the same respect granted to any other movie. 

Where do you stand?