In the latest round of the seemingly interminable discourse around Marvel movies vs. real cinema, MCU stars Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, and Chadwick Boseman are weighing in. A comment from director Martin Scorsese likening Marvel movies to theme parks back in early October began the trend and it hasn’t stopped since. In the month since that first comment, wave upon wave of reactions from industry professionals like Francis Ford Coppola and Disney CEO Bob Iger have been shared with the public. The discourse eventually led to Scorsese publishing a New York Times op-ed attempting to clarify at length how the dominance of Marvel movies in the cinematic landscape have left him with doubts about the health of the medium.
Now, longtime MCU stars Evans and Johansson are offering up their opinions of the matter, which came as part of an extended conversation between the actors and friends during their “Variety Studio: Actors on Actors” conversation. Evans has been a part of what we know now as MCU since the early days when he originated the role of Captain America in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger. Johansson has been a part of the MCU since 2010’s Iron Man 2 where she first appeared as Black Widow. Given the actors’ proximity to the franchise which Scorsese and other non-Marvel affiliates have critiqued, it’s fair to see these two now acknowledging the controversy in some way even if they don’t name names.
At one point in the conversation, Evans discusses boarding Rian Johnson‘s Knives Out and his attraction to it being an original story. He tells Johansson, “I think this weird chicken-and-the-egg thing, who started it? Did audiences only start going to lowbrow stuff, so that’s what we started making? Or is it that we made it first, and now that’s all we’re offered?”
To this, Johansson replies with a noticeably diplomatic response which could very well serve as the Switzerland of answers on this matter:
It’s interesting, because a couple of people in the past couple of days have mentioned to me that a couple of extremely esteemed directors have been really vocal about how the whole Marvel universe and big blockbusters are really, like, “despicable” and “the death of cinema.” At first I thought that seems kind of old-fashioned, and somebody had to explain to me, because it seemed so disappointing and sad in a way. They said, “I think what these people are saying is that at the actual theater, there’s not a lot of room for different kinds of movies, or smaller movies, because the theater is taken up by huge blockbusters.
Evans seems on board with Johansson’s assessment, opting for a similarly even-keeled response but coming in as a bit more defensive of the MCU. He shared with her:
I think original content inspires creative content. I think new stuff is what keeps the creative wheel rolling. I just believe there’s room at the table for all of it. It’s like saying a certain type of music isn’t music. Who are you to say that?
Unlike Evans and Johansson, Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman was a little less diplomatic about Scorsese & Co.’s critiques of the effects of Marvel movies on the film landscape. In an interview with BBC 5 Live (via The Independent) over the weekend, Boseman offered up a sharp, studied, and extremely valid take on the ongoing discussion.
The mystery that Scorsese’s talking about, it’s in Black Panther. And I think the funny thing about it is, maybe if he saw Black Panther, he didn’t get that. He didn’t get that there was this feeling of being unsure, there was this feeling of not knowing what’s going to happen, because we never had a superhero like this before. We thought that white people will kill us off. So it’s a possibility that we could be gone. So we felt that angst. We felt that angst that you would feel from cinema when you watched it. That’s cultural. Maybe it’s generational. I don’t know. But I’m secure in what we did, so his statements don’t really bother me.
Boseman is offering up some critical insight here and is making an extremely accurate and valid observation about the importance of Marvel movies on the culture. Even when you consider the domination of the MCU within the cinematic landscape, it’s hard to deny the benefits of the cultural impact a movie like Black Panther could have when given the Marvel Studios platform and promotional bandwidth.
Will the discourse ever settle down? Only time will tell. Have some valid points been made by those who have every right to offer up their own opinion? Absolutely.
In lieu of focusing on this MCU vs. Scorsese conversation, why don’t you go check out all of the movies that are coming in 2020? There’s some goodies on the calendar already.