It was supposed to be a normal interview. Benedict Cumberbatch appeared on The Jenny McCarthy Show, a SiriusXM show from actor/anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy to promote… nope, never mind. This was never going to be a normal interview. Anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy has a SiriusXM radio show? She gets to interview international sex symbol Benedict Cumberbatch while we’ll stuck here making sure our kids don’t get polio?! That’s objectively insane! Okay. Deep breaths. Anyway: Cumberbatch was there to promote The Current War, an upcoming historical drama about electricity, but wound up offering his thoughts on the ongoing “Are Marvel movies cinema?” debate stoked by such luminaries as Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Francis Ford Coppola, James Gunn, Jon Favreau, and Cumberbatch’s Disney boss Bob Iger.
In case you’re not caught up in the sniping back and forth about the MCU, here’s the general gist: Scorsese said Marvel movies weren’t cinema, equating them to thrill rides. And then every other person in Hollywood either vehemently agreed or disagreed with Scorsese, either doubling down on the movies being empty pieces of junk food or arguing that the movies are not unlike Scorsese’s neo-gangster work. So what’s Cumberbatch’s take on the matter? After all, after playing Doctor Strange in several MCU films, he’s at the heart of it all. Here are his thoughts:
I know there’s been a lot of debate recently with these very fine filmmakers coming to the fore saying that these film franchises are taking over everything, but lucky us actors who get to do both kinds of variety at either polarity of budgeting. And I agree, you know. We don’t want one king to rule it all and have a kind of monopoly and that. And hopefully that’s not the case, and we should really look into continuing to support auteur filmmakers at every level.
Now this, friends, is a take that makes a lot of sense. Moderation is the key to a fulfilling life, from the food we eat to the movies we watch. It’s enjoyable to watch and participate in big-budget blockbusters. But it’s also enjoyable to watch and participate in smaller, director-driven passion projects. There’s room for both on our plates, you know? Props to Cumberbatch for speaking personally as an actor in his defense (he even pointed out the sheer mastery of craft from Robert Downey Jr. in his multi-layered performance as Tony Stark), and props to Cumberbatch for referencing another big-budget franchise he appeared in while doing so.
Beyond the general Marvel controversy, Cumberbatch got in a few choice roasts on his MCU/Current War costar Tom Holland. He did praise Holland’s acting, sure. But he also said that “I was teaching him how to shave on this, he’s so young. It’s ridiculous.” C’mon, Cumberbatch! Hasn’t Holland been through enough lately? Leave the young, stubble-growing Brit alone!
Watch the full Cumberbatch/McCarthy interview below. And for more on the Marvel insanity, here’s what renowned filmmaker Pedro Almodovar has to say about the inherent unsexiness of superhero cinema. Bro… have you seen Cumberbatch?