Who Cares if Martin Scorsese Doesn’t Think Much of Comic Movies?

US director Martin Scorsese poses on May 8, 2018 as he arrives for the screening of the film “Todos Lo Saben (Everybody Knows)” and the opening ceremony of the 71st edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP)



Veteran filmmaker Martin Scorsese recently got on the nerves of the politically correct by comparing them to theme parks and not considering them serious art:


Martin Scorsese calls Marvel movies “theme park rides,” Francis Ford Coppola labels them “despicable,” Ken Loach compares them to “hamburgers.”

Over the past few weeks, Marvel has taken a legitimate beating from some cinematic legends, and this is happening during a vulnerable time for a hit factory moving past the Avengers and into a more openly political and woke phase.

Oscar-winner Scorsese went first, saying of Marvel and comic book movies in general, “Theaters have become amusement parks. That is all fine and good but don’t invade everything else in that sense,” he said. “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.”

Oscar-winner Francis Ford Coppola said, “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.”

Ken Loach sums it up this way, “They’re made as commodities like hamburgers, and it’s not about communicating, and it’s not about sharing our imagination,” he said. “It’s about making a commodity which will make a profit for a big corporation – they’re a cynical exercise. They’re a market exercise, and it has nothing to do with the art of cinema.”


And it’s been the case for more than a decade already. It’s been nearly that much time, and when Thor was first adapted, it was one of the earliest examples of Marvel race-swapping characters, with Heimdall one of the first characters to undergo this political correctness. And the films did become monotonous years ago too. Now it’s bound to become worse, as social justice pandering looks to become more blatant, with the Captain Marvel movie a recent example.

Disney CEO Bob Iger didn’t make things any better after he snuck in a race card:


While speaking to the Wall Street Journal in California on Tuesday, Iger (Disney owns Marvel) responded by name-checking Scorsese and Coppola and thumping them over the head with the ole’ race card:

I’m puzzled by it. If they want to bitch about movies, it’s certainly their right… It seems so disrespectful to all the people that work on those [Marvel] films who are working just as hard as the people who work on their films. … Are you telling me Ryan Coogler making ‘Black Panther’ is somehow doing something that is less than what Marty Scorsese or Francis Ford Coppola has ever done on any one of their movies?


Oh, now that was uncalled for. If Iger was smart, he wouldn’t have said anything, and come to think of it, he wouldn’t have been profane. He really gives profiteers a badder name than they already have.


Scorsese later defended his positions in a New York Times op-ed:


For me, for the filmmakers I came to love and respect, for my friends who started making movies around the same time that I did, cinema was about revelation — aesthetic, emotional and spiritual revelation. It was about characters — the complexity of people and their contradictory and sometimes paradoxical natures, the way they can hurt one another and love one another and suddenly come face to face with themselves. […]

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.

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. That’s the nature of modern film franchises: market-researched, audience-tested, vetted, modified, revetted and remodified until they’re ready for consumption.


Maybe the biggest problem about the Marvel movies is that they don’t have re-watch value, and they lack romance, in what must be their laughable idea of “family-friendly” marketing. I honestly don’t see much point in their being anymore, other than to make quick bucks over something that won’t be solid memory in the future. The worst part, though, is that even the independent cinema Scorsese may wish were given more recognition has become awfully preachy too in the past decade, which doesn’t bode well for what Scorsese may advocate either.


Now, if it matters, the head honcho of Marvel’s film division, Kevin Feige, gave his take on the controversy to the Hollywood Reporter, but I don’t find his defense very impressive:


“I think that’s not true. I think it’s unfortunate,” Feige says when asked about the notion that superhero movies are a negative for cinema. “I think myself and everyone who works on these movies loves cinema, loves movies, loves going to the movies, loves to watch a communal experience in a movie theater full of people.” […]

But Feige has long maintained that Marvel Studios seeks to make different types of films, and over the years has touted 2015’s Ant-Man as a heist film and 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier as a political thriller. In response to Scorsese, Feige brings up more recent examples of the risks the studio has taken, noting that Marvel hasn’t made an Iron Man film since 2013 and instead pitted Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark against Chris Evans’ Captain America in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.

“We did Civil War. We had our two most popular characters get into a very serious theological and physical altercation,” Feige says. “We killed half of our characters at the end of a movie [Avengers: Infinity War]. I think it’s fun for us to take our success and use it to take risks and go in different places.”


If there’s any “risk” not worth taking, it’s killing off characters. Certainly if they’re heroes. So if that’s something Scorsese was complaining about – a lack of characters being terminated for the sake of it – I have to disagree, if only because of how abominable it became in comics proper, recalling my past knowledge of what both DC and Marvel did with both superheroes and co-stars. To me, “risks” has to be the courage to focus on meaty subjects like fighting modern day terrorism, or at least developing metaphors for it. But Hollywood being what it is today has failed even that much.

Oh, and I don’t see what’s so great about adapting the dismaying 2006 crossover Civil War either. And to make matters worse, as the article says:


Feige is currently developing shows based around Ms. Marvel — the studio’s first Muslim hero — as well as She-Hulk and Moon Knight. All three will appear on the big screen after their Disney+ debuts, the exec confirms.


Islamic propaganda is something that, if you know where to look, you’ll see Hollywood’s been doing for quite a while to boot. Quite the opposite of what could’ve been done post-9/11. What an embarrassment.


In the end, what matters is that show business is on the decline, and sooner or later, the entertainment industry’s bound to collapse altogether, so long as they cling bitterly to their ultra-leftist positions. I honestly don’t care if Scorsese or Coppola feel this way, because junk-food cinema isn’t everything, and not all of it’s written to make you think in a good way. So, while there are some disagreements I may have with these filmmakers over what the mistakes are in a comics movie, I’d say that they otherwise raised good points, and this shouldn’t be the only thing clogging up the movie theaters every week. Still, for all we know, the future grosses of the Marvel movies may decline, as people come to realize how bad the reliance on PC becomes.


Originally published here.

Avi Green

Avi Green was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. He enjoyed reading comics when he was young, the first being Fantastic Four. He maintains a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy of facts. He considers himself a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. Follow him on his blog at Four Color Media Monitor or on Twitter at @avigreen1