By now, if you live on planet Earth, you have no doubt heard that director Martin Scorsese publicly stated that he does not believe that Marvel movies are “cinema” and that they have much more in common with theme park rides. This set off a month long chain reaction on the internet where Marvel supporters expressed anger and sadness that he could be so close-minded while Martin Scorsese supporters (such as Francis Ford Coppola) came to his defense. Now this week the whole situation has come to a head with Scorsese finally penning an opinion piece for The New York Times in order to fully explain his position. Here is an excerpt from that piece:
“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.
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.
It was about confronting the unexpected on the screen and in the life it dramatized and interpreted, and enlarging the sense of what was possible in the art form. And that was the key for us: it was an art form.”
He also touches on the threat that Marvel and franchise films pose to original storytelling on the big screen, which is his other big concern. While it is unclear if this will be enough to appease Marvel fans, it is a thoughtful essay and well worth checking out in its entirety. In a way, it seems sad that he needed to even write this (I hope there wasn’t a fear that the backlash to his comments could hurt The Irishman in some way) but it continues a conversation that is worth having right now about the state of the movie industry. Are you on Team Marty or Team Marvel?