In response to renowned filmmaker Martin Scorsese declaring that the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is “not cinema,” two of the franchise’s biggest stars — Robert Downey Jr. and Samuel L. Jackson — have spoken out in defense of the comic-based series.
Appearing on “The Howard Stern Show,” Robert Downey Jr. said sarcastically that Scorsese may have a point, noting that he did not expect the MCU to become the “hydra” it has become after over a decade.
“I’ll tell you the truth: I didn’t expect it to become what it became, and it is this very large, multi-headed Hydra at this point,” the former “Iron Man” star said. “I’ve always had other interests, and according to Scorsese, it’s not cinema. I gotta take a look at that, you know? I mean, it plays in theaters.”
“I appreciate his opinion because I think it’s like anything — we need all of the different perspectives, so we can come to center and move on,” he continued.
When Stern asked if he felt offended by Scorsese’s dig, Downey Jr. responded, “It would be like saying Howard Stern isn’t radio … It makes no sense to say it.”
Stern, however, believed that Scorsese felt jealous of the Marvel movies. Downey Jr. felt that he had a perspective that should be considered.
“In his view, and by the way, there’s a lot to be said for how these genre movies — and I was happy to be a part of the problem, if there is one — denigrated the art form [of] cinema,” he said. “By the way, when you come in like a stomping beast and eliminate the competition in such a demonstrative way, it’s phenomenal.”
Last week, Scorsese stoked the ire of millions of Marvel fanboys when he said the Marvel movies were more like theme park rides than cinematic experiences.
“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 is not alone in his belief about the Marvel movies and is joined by director James Cameron — one of the highest-grossing blockbuster directors of all-time — who once said the films lack a heart.
“I’m hoping we’ll start getting ‘Avenger’ fatigue here pretty soon,” Cameron told IndieWire in 2018. “It’s just, come on guys, there are other stories to tell besides hypergonadal males (men who produce too much testosterone) without families doing death-defying things for two hours and wrecking cities in the process. It’s like, oy!”
Scorsese’s declaration prompted equal parts ridicule and equal parts support on social media, with some Marvel directors even joining in on the conversation to defend their product.
“Martin Scorsese is one of my five favorite living filmmakers. I was outraged when people picketed The Last Temptation of Christ without having seen the film. I’m saddened that he’s now judging my films in the same way,” said “Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn.
On Monday, Samuel L. Jackson, who plays the character Nick Fury, said that not everybody appreciates Scorsese’s movies either.
“Films are films. Everybody doesn’t like his stuff either. We happen to. Everybody doesn’t,” he said. “You know, there are a lot of Italian Americans who don’t think he should be making films about them like that. Everybody’s got an opinion, so, I mean, it’s okay. Ain’t going to stop nobody from making movies.”