Incredibly, director Martin Scorsese is back in the news with even more opinions about Marvel movies centered on clarifying he’s previous comparison of the MCU to theme parks. The Irishman director has been at the center of what’s become a month-long debate amongst industry creatives including Francis Ford Coppola, Damon Lindelof, Kevin Smith, Ken Loach, Samuel L. Jackson, and Disney CEO Bob Iger who’ve weighed in on whether or not the movies that make up the Marvel Cinematic Universe are good or bad.
“I don’t see them. I tried, you know? But that’s not cinema. Honestly, the closest I can think of them, as well made as they are, with actors doing the best they can under the circumstances, is theme parks. It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”
Speaking with Entertainment Tonight, the director returned to the “theme park” comments, explaining,
“Well, look, the point is, in terms of this film, Netflix, theaters, what I’m talking about really are films that are made. Let’s say a family wants to go to an amusement park, that’s a good thing, you know. And at themes and parks there’s these cinematic expressions. They’re a new art form. It’s something different from films that are shown normally in theaters, that’s all.”
Talk about walking it back! Seems like Scorsese has had time to think about his earlier comments and felt the need to set the record straight or, perhaps after Iger’s own vehement rebuttal, he felt the need to do an about-face. Either way, Scorsese seemed keen to move away from past comments and expound on his new line of thinking about Marvel movies as a new art form and their effects.
“For them, my concern is losing the screens to massive theme park films, which I say again, they’re [their] own new art form. Cinema now is changing. We have so many venues, there are so many ways to make films. So enjoyable. Fine, go and it’s an event and it’s great to go to an event like an amusement park, but don’t crowd out Greta Gerwig and don’t crowd out Paul Thomas Anderson and Noah Baumbach and those people, just don’t, in terms of theaters.”
As tired as this debate might be getting, Scorsese is making some fair points with this new direction. While directors like Paul Thomas Anderson, Greta Gerwig, and Noah Baumbach might not be the particular trio threatened to be undone for good by Marvel’s box office stronghold (Gerwig’s Little Women and Baumbach’s Marriage Story are garnering praise and awards season buzz by the pound right now), the point still stands. There is reason to worry Marvel Studios and parent company Disney continue to grow and control a sizable portion of the theatrical market and potentially overshadow other studio offerings with comparatively smaller budgets, which might not function as part of a larger cinematic universe, or bring something new to the cinematic craft.
That said, I’m very ready for this debate to fizzle into nothingness. Sure, it’s nice to hear a very respected figure like Scorsese weighing in here but really, truly, it must be put on the backburner in favor of some more creative industry discussions; anything will do.
For more, read Collider’s own Matt Goldberg breaking down on this whole Marvel-vs-auteur debate.