Add another titan director to the list of titan directors dismissive of the trend of assembly-line movies created by the “Star Wars” and Marvel franchises: Quentin Tarantino.
Speaking with Deadline, the Academy Award-nominated “Once Upon a Time In Hollywood” director said that franchise films went to war with original films in 2019; fortunately, original movies had a great year while franchise movies had their worst performance in the coveted Chinese box office since 2008.
“I actually think a war for movies got played out this last year,” Tarantino told the outlet. “As far as I can see, the commercial product that is owned by the conglomerates, the projects everybody knows about and has in their DNA, whether it be the Marvel Comics, the ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Godzilla’ and ‘James Bond,’ those films never had a better year than last year. It would have been the year that their world domination would have been complete. But it kind of wasn’t.”
“A lot of original movie comment came out and demanded to be seen, and demanded to be seen at the theaters,” he continued. “That ended up becoming a really, really strong year. I’m really proud to be nominated with the other films that just got nominated. I think when you sum up the year, it’s cinema that doesn’t fall into that blockbuster IP proof status, made its last stand this year.”
Indeed, between box office smashes like “Joker,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “1917,” “Little Women,” and “Ford v. Ferrari,” this year’s slate of Best Picture nominees may be the most-watched films up for the top prize in over a decade.
“This is a really groovy year,” said Tarantino. “To combat something like ‘Avengers: Endgame,’ which for the month before it came out and the month after, you couldn’t talk about anything else. They tried to do that with this last ‘Star Wars’ and I don’t think it quite worked, but you couldn’t get on United Airlines without running into all the tie-ins, and even the safety commercial had a ‘Star Wars’ scene.”
A major pop-cultural debate erupted in 2019 acclaimed director Martin Scorsese said the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) did not qualify as cinema, likening them to 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 was quickly joined by “Godfather” director Francis Ford Coppola, who went even further by calling Marvel movies “despicable.” Director Terry Gilliam (of “Monty Python” fame) expressed similar resentment toward the industry’s prevailing trend toward franchise fare. Even comic book author Alan Moore (“Watchmen”) denounced the spate of superhero movies as “today’s franchised ubermenschen.”
“I think the impact of superheroes on popular culture is both tremendously embarrassing and not a little worrying,” said Moore. “While these characters were originally perfectly suited to stimulating the imaginations of their twelve or thirteen-year-old audience, today’s franchised übermenschen, aimed at a supposedly adult audience, seem to be serving some kind of different function, and fulfilling different needs.”