The debate over whether the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) should qualify as actual cinema raged on this week when Disney CEO Bob Iger accused film icon Martin Scorsese of criticizing MCU movies without ever giving them a chance.
“I think Martin Scorsese is a great filmmaker,” said Iger. “I hope he hears this. I don’t have a relationship with him, but it doesn’t matter, I admire him immensely. I think he has made some great films. I look back and think of Goodfellas and Raging Bull to name just a few, Taxi Driver. Just a phenomenal filmmaker,” Iger told BBC Radio, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter.
“First of all, Marvel is making movies — they are movies, that’s what Martin Scorsese makes — and they are good movies: good directors and good writers and good actors and good cinematographers and good costume designers and good sound engineers and good editors. I can go on and on,” Iger continued. “These are talented, talented people that are putting their hard work and talent into making films that entertain people in theaters around the world. … They have a good two-hour experience. They come out feeling happy or better about themselves.”
“I don’t think he’s ever seen a Marvel film. … Anyone who has seen a Marvel film could not in all truth make that statement,” he concluded. “I’d like to have a glass of wine with him. I like Martin Scorsese.”
Contrary to Mr. Iger’s assertion, Martin Scorsese admitted that he gave the MCU a viewing try but ultimately came to the conclusion that they were theme park rides.
“I tried, you know? But that’s not cinema,” Scorsese told Empire Magazine. “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.”
Scorsese later doubled down on his convictions during a press conference at the Rome Film Fest when he extolled Marvel for its technical feats while also expressing hope that the movies might return to a stronger narrative format.
“The key that I’m hoping for is for theaters to continue to support narrative cinema of this kind,” said Scorsese. “But right now the theaters seem to be mainly supporting the theme park, amusement park, comic book films. They’re taking over the theaters. I think they can have those films; it’s fine. It’s just that that shouldn’t become what our young people believe is cinema. It just shouldn’t.”
“This is the world we live in. Our children are, I don’t know what they’re doing with those devices,” he continued. “They perceive reality differently. They perceive even the concept of what history is supposed to be [differently]. How are they going to know about WWII? How are they going to know about Vietnam? What do they think of Afghanistan? What do they think of all of this? They’re perceiving it in bits and pieces. There seems to be no continuity of history.”
In the same interview with BBC Radio, Bob Iger clarified that he never supported the boycott of Georgia for passing the fetal heartbeat bill and only emphasized that Disney would have a difficult time shooting in the state.
“I didn’t say anything about the law itself,” said Iger. “I only suggested that if it passed, we would have a very hard time shooting there, because a lot of people involved in our shows would not want to work there. So it was not a Disney position on the law itself.”