He says superhero movies lack “revelation, mystery or genuine emotional danger”
On Monday (November 4), The New York Times published an op-ed by Scorsese that fleshes out his criticism of Marvel movies, which he previously claimed were “not cinema”. While the filmmaker praised the “considerable talent and artistry” that went into making these comic book movies, Scorsese also explained that his lack of interest in the superhero franchise was simply 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,” Scorsese wrote. “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.”
Scorsese then explained that filmmakers fought for cinema to considered an “art form” that was “equal to literature or music or dance”, using films by Alfred Hitchcock, Sam Fuller and Jean-Luc Godard as examples. “Sixty or 70 years later, we’re still watching those pictures and marvelling at them. But is it the thrills and the shocks that we keep going back to? I don’t think so,” the auteur wrote.
Scorsese later argued that although Marvel movies may feature elements of cinema, they fail to take risks, making them predictable: “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,” he wrote. “They are sequels in name but they are remakes in spirit, and everything in them is officially sanctioned because it can’t really be any other way.”
He continued: “That’s the nature of modern film franchises: market-researched, audience-tested, vetted, modified, revetted and remodified until they’re ready for consumption.” Read his full op-ed here.
Scorsese’s comments from last month have ruffled feathers in the Marvel cinematic world, prompting responses from directors James Gunn and Jon Favreau, and actors Samuel L. Jackson, Paul Rudd, Karen Gillan and Robert Downey Jr. Disney CEO Bob Iger also defended Marvel, calling Scorsese’s comments “disrespectful”.