Damn. You know that feeling you get when two of your favorite people are in a nasty fight? This feels kind of like that. Director John McTiernan, who helmed action classics like Die Hard, Predator, and The Hunt for Red October has come out swinging against some of today’s genre titans, including (gasp) Mad Max: Fury Road and especially Captain America. It’s too sad, I can’t watch.
In an interview with Premiere (translated from French), McTiernan went on a bit of a tear about modern blockbuster filmmaking. “I hate the majority of [major studio] films for political reasons, I can’t really watch them. I’m annoyed the second they start”, he said.
Well, sure maybe he means the bad ones, right? Wrong. He means the best ones. McTiernan dismissed Fury Road with a “pffft”, calling George Miller‘s stunning action opus “corporate product”, though he at least has somewhat decent enough sense to point out that he liked Babe (what monster wouldn’t?) and the first Mad Max.
It’s insane to me that any filmmaker could disregard the technical mastery and pure accomplishment of Fury Road, but if he was dismissive of Miller’s Oscar-winning epic, he was straight up vitriolic towards Captain America, arguably the crown jewel of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe.
“Captain America, I’m not joking… The cult of American hyper-masculinity is one of the worst things to have happened to the world during the last 50 years. Hundreds of thousands of people have died because of this idiotic delusion. So how is it possible to watch a film called Captain America?!”
While I kind of get what he’s saying, I also think he’s wildly missing the point of what is essentially the kind of aspirational hero America really needs right now. And in terms of masculinity the MCU’s Cap is bursting with it, but the best, non-toxic kind.
But McTiernan’s distaste for superhero movies doesn’t end with the Star-Spangled Avenger. He’s got a huge problem with the “facist” studio industry at large. “Superhero movies are for business,” he said, and that is certainly true, but I think he’s also missing that the folks making these movies, and maybe at Marvel more than anywhere else currently, genuinely love these properties. But I digress. McTiernan he continued,
“All they’re making are comic book adaptations. There’s action but no human beings, they’re films made by fascists. They’re making all the kids in the world think that they’ll never be important enough to have a film made about their life. And it’s a unique moment in the history of cinema, it didn’t used to be like this. A kid used to be able to learn how a man or a woman should act by watching films. Morals. Comics make heroes for businesses”.
So what does he like, if anything? Argo. And Joel Silver movies. And hey, fair enough on both counts. McTiernan praised Ben Affleck‘s work on his Best Picture winning thriller.
“He did something incredible. And he was a better actor than in all his other films. Normally when a filmmaker gets to the screen, it’s the opposite. He put aside his ego, he began to act like a hero in a John Ford film… And it’s very different from his other roles. There is something about him that a lot of people find annoying. This arrogance, coldness… It disappeared in this film,”
Look, when you’ve got Die Hard and Predator on your resume, I’m going to care about your opinion more than most, but McTiernan also made Rollerball and hasn’t directed since 2003 (a fact he’s aiming to change soon), so it’s not like he’s a be all end all pundit of modern cinema.
What do you guys think? Does he make some valid points or is he out of touch with modern cinema? Maybe both? Sound off in the comments.