In the wake of acclaimed filmmaker Martin Scorsese saying that Marvel movies are “not cinema,” directors and stars of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are responding to his remarks, and in some cases pushing back in defense of the mega-franchise. With Scorsese’s fellow auteur Francis Ford Coppola echoing his sentiments — the Godfather director recently called Marvel movies “despicable” — this debate could be far from over.
Zade Rosenthal/Marvel; Marvel Studios/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock; Francois Duhamel/Marvel
Jon Favreau, who helped launch the MCU by directing Iron Man and Iron Man 2, shared his thoughts about Scorsese and Coppola’s comments during an interview with CNBC Tuesday.
“These two guys are my heroes, and they have earned the right to express their opinions,” Favreau said while promoting his Star Wars series The Mandalorian. “I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if they didn’t carve the way. They served as a source of inspiration; you can go all the way back to Swingers… They can express whatever opinion they like.”
Taika Waititi, who directed Thor: Ragnarok and is returning for the next installment, Thor: Love and Thunder, debated Scorsese’s comments during an interview with the Associated Press.
“Of course it’s cinema! It’s at the movies. It’s in cinemas…” he said while pointing at the camera, “near you!”
Natalie Portman, who plays Jane Foster in the Thor movies, told The Hollywood Reporter on Saturday that “there’s not one way to make art,” and that she thinks “there’s room for all types of cinema.”
She added, “I think that Marvel films are so popular because they’re really entertaining and people desire entertainment when they have their special time after work, after dealing with their hardships in real life.”
MCU star Sebastian Stan weighed in on Scorsese’s comments while speaking at Houston’s Fandemic Tour.
“He’s one of my heroes and I was listening to him and meanwhile, I just spent the day with all of you,” Stan said, according to ComicBook.com. “People have been going up to me like, ‘Thank you so much for this character,’ ‘This movie helped me out so much,’ ‘This movie inspired me. Now I feel better. Now I feel less alone,’ so how can you say these movies are not helping people?”
Director James Gunn has been outspoken about the comments from Scorsese and Coppola against comic book films — including his two Guardians of the Galaxy movies (with a third on the way). He shared his thoughts via Instagram on Sunday.
“Many of our grandfathers thought all gangster movies were the same, often calling them ‘despicable,’” he wrote alongside a photo of Guardians characters Groot and Rocket. “Some of our great grandfathers thought the same of westerns, and believed the films of John Ford, Sam Peckinpah, and Sergio Leone were all exactly the same. I remember a great uncle to whom I was raving about Star Wars. He responded by saying, ‘I saw that when it was called 2001, and, boy, was it boring!’ Superheroes are simply today’s gangsters/cowboys/outer space adventurers. Some superhero films are awful, some are beautiful. Like westerns and gangster movies (and before that, just MOVIES), not everyone will be able to appreciate them, even some geniuses. And that’s okay.”
Avengers and Age of Ultron director Joss Whedon singled out Gunn’s work when responding to Scorsese earlier this month. He tweeted, “I first think of @JamesGunn, how his heart & guts are packed into GOTG. I revere Marty, & I do see his point, but… Well there’s a reason why ‘I’m always angry’” (the latter quote being a Hulk reference).
Robert Downey Jr., who played Iron Man/Tony Stark in multiple MCU projects, spoke to Howard Stern when the controversy over Scorsese’s comments first erupted.
“It is this very large, multiheaded hydra at this point,” he told Stern. As to whether Marvel movies are cinema, he said, “I mean, it plays in theaters. I appreciate [Scorsese’s] opinion. I think it’s like anything where we need all of the different perspectives so we can come to center and move on.”
Samuel L. Jackson also shared his respect for the Raging Bull director during an interview in early October, though he agreed to disagree on the topic.
“That’s kind of like saying Bugs Bunny ain’t funny,” Jackson told Variety. “Films are films. You know, everybody doesn’t like his stuff either. I mean, we happen to, but everybody doesn’t. There are a lot of Italian-Americans that don’t think he should be making films about them like that. Everybody’s got an opinion, so it’s okay. It’s not going to stop anyone from making movies.”
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