This is a weird little news cycle we’re in where famous directors signal that they’re not really into Marvel movies. You’ve got these back-and-forths in the press with Martin Scorsese and James Gunn and Francis Ford Coppola. I think asking them about it is a valid question when Marvel movies are the biggest films on the planet right now even if “Marvel movie” is a shorthand for “today’s most popular blockbusters” that ignores the success of other franchises and remakes. Ken Loach (I, Daniel Blake) and Fernando Meirelles (City of God) are the latest directors to weigh in on the rise of Marvel and their opinions on those movies.
In a TV interview [via Variety], Loach told Sky News of Marvel movies, “They’re made as commodities…like hamburgers. It’s about making a commodity which will make 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.”
Meirelles was a bit more forgiving, speaking at the Mumbai Film Festival. “I can’t disagree with Scorsese because I don’t watch [Marvel movies]….I watched a ‘Spider-Man’ eight years ago, and that was it. I’m not interested. It doesn’t mean it is bad,” Meirelles added. “I don’t know if it’s Marvel, but I watched ‘Deadpool,’ the first one, and it was very good. Amazing action sequences. Then I tried to watch ‘Deadpool 2’ on a plane. I watched, like, half an hour and gave up.”
The curious bit about this wave of stories is that they’re forcing a false choice. Yes, stories like this are based on conflict—Marvel fans vs. acclaimed directors—but you really don’t have to choose sides. The conflict is meant to appeal to prejudices on both sides based on stereotypes. Marvel fans are supposed to be fanboys who don’t appreciate art films and fans of acclaimed directors are supposed to hate anything that’s popular. But the truth is you can like (or dislike) all of these movies. These are celebrated directors with decades worth of experience in the industry, so their opinions have merits, but it doesn’t mean you as a reader have to get sucked into an us-vs-them argument over Marvel movies.