Avengers: Endgame is in the books as the top-grossing film of all time, a feat that only comes around once every decade or so, but the debate as to whether or not it’s “cinema” is ongoing. The Avengers franchise helmers Joe and Anthony Russo weighed in on the continuing conversation about the cinematic qualities (and qualifications) of comic book movies, a debate that started
a thousand years ago back in early October. Since then, fans and filmmakers alike have chosen sides, with Marvel brass defending their world-famous work while auteurs end up siding with Scorsese. Now, the Russos have responded.
Speaking with THR in support of their upcoming release 21 Bridges, which the Russo Brothers produced along with star Chadwick Boseman, they responded to Scorsese’s “cinema” jabs aimed at Marvel movies in particular. (It’s important to note the timing of all of these comments as Scorsese’s original jab and decision to continue the discourse comes in the midst of promotional tours for The Irishman, while follow-up comments from just about everyone else in Hollywood are almost always tied to whatever they’re promoting as well.)
Joe Russo said, “Ultimately, we define cinema as a film that can bring people together to have a shared, emotional experience … But, at the end of the day, what do we know? We’re just two guys from Cleveland, Ohio, and ‘cinema’ is a New York word. In Cleveland, we call them movies.”
Anthony Russo added: “The other way to think about it, too, is nobody owns cinema. We don’t own cinema. You don’t own cinema. Scorsese doesn’t own cinema.”
Joe continued by revealing what “success” means to them:
“When we look at the box office [of] Avengers: Endgame, we don’t see that as a signifier of financial success, we see it as a signifier of emotional success. It’s a movie that had an unprecedented impact on audiences around the world in the way that they shared that narrative and the way that they experienced it. And the emotions they felt watching it.”
The film’s nearly $3 billion global box office take sure does soften any critical blows from the likes of Scorsese, I’d imagine. We’ll see how the emotional (and financial) success of 21 Bridges stacks up this coming weekend.