Perhaps it was inevitable with the rise of superhero movies and now Martin Scorsese’s latest film, The Irishman, arriving in limited theatrical release before dropping on Netflix, Scorsese would find himself at the center of a conversation about superhero movies. What perhaps no one saw is that Joker, a movie that Scorsese had been loosely attached to before ultimately deciding to pass on producing it, would become a worldwide sensation as it rockets to almost $1 billion worldwide.
Scorsese is currently doing press for The Irishman and he was asked about his thoughts on Joker and if it fell under the umbrella of “superhero cinema.” Scorsese told the BBC [via Indiewire]:
“I know the film very well. I know [director Todd Phillips] very well. My producer Emma Tillinger Koskoff produced it. I thought about it a lot over the last four years and decided I did not have the time for it. It was personal reasons why I didn’t get involved. But I know the script very well. It has a real energy and Joaquin. You have remarkable work.”
Scorsese continued that he couldn’t really crack the story because the narrative demands of the superhero genre (at least as presented with regards to The Joker) rendered the character “an abstraction”:
“For me, ultimately, I don’t know if I make the next step into this character developing into a comic book character,” Scorsese said. “You follow? He develops into an abstraction. It doesn’t mean it’s bad art, it’s just not for me…The superhero films, as I’ve said, are another art form. They are not easy to make. There’s a lot of very talented people doing good work and a lot of young people really, really enjoy them.”
Where Scorsese comes back to isn’t that Marvel movies are inherently “bad” or that people who like them are “bad”, but rather they squeeze out the number of theaters that can show movies like The Irishman. Studios will fall over themselves to make comic book movies, but there’s no money to make The Irishman unless a company like Netflix comes along, which puts filmmakers like Scorsese in a tenuous position.
I’m not sure if Scorsese producing Joker would have made the film any better, but at this point, it’s clear that the movie was a massive hit even without Scorsese’s name attached.
The Irishman is now in limited release and arrives on Netflix on November 27th. Click here for my review.