Speaking recently with Empire Magazine, legendary director Martin Scorsese compared superhero movies to “theme parks.”
I don’t see them. I tried, you know? But that’s not cinema. 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’s latest film, “The Irishman,” has won rave reviews, and will debut in limited theaters on November 1 before being available to stream on Netflix just three weeks later.
In the wake of Scorsese’s comments, several directors and actors who have worked as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) have issued responses.
Speaking with Variety’s Angelique Jackson on Saturday, Samuel L. Jackson, who has portrayed character Nick Fury in a host of MCU films, offered his opinion on the Scorsese remark.
VARIETY: Did you hear Martin Scorsese’s thoughts on Marvel films, on superhero films not being cinema?
JACKSON: I passed by that, but I didn’t pay much attention to it … I mean, that’s like saying, you know, Bugs Bunny ain’t funny. Films are films. Everybody doesn’t like his stuff either. We happen to. Everybody doesn’t. 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.
James Gunn, writer and director of both “Guardians of the Galaxy” films, as well as the upcoming “The Suicide Squad,” tweeted out a response as well:
Martin Scorsese is one of my 5 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.
Gunn added: “That said, I will always love Scorsese, be grateful for his contribution to cinema, and can’t wait to see The Irishman.”
That said, I will always love Scorsese, be grateful for his contribution to cinema, and can’t wait to see The Irishman.
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) October 4, 2019
One Twitter user questioned Gunn’s response, saying: “You must see what he means, at least — that their primary aim is not to explore the complexity of human emotion but to provide entertainment?”
Gun responded by saying that his “primary aim” with the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies was to achieve that feeling. “Whether they achieve it or not is up to others to decide — but it’s absolutely their primary aim,” the director wrote.
This is not the first, nor will it be the final, time that the essence of “cinema” is debated among filmmakers.
As films from streaming services like Netflix and Amazon have gained traction during awards season, some have protested.
In 2018, legendary director Steven Spielberg told ITV: “Once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie. You certainly, if it’s a good show, deserve an Emmy, but not an Oscar. I don’t believe films that are just given token qualifications in a couple of theaters for less than a week should qualify for the Academy Award nomination.”
In 2019, Netflix received 15 Oscar nominations. The streaming giant went on to win across four categories, including best director. Expect Netflix to surpass its 2019 nominations total when the 2020 Academy Awards nominees are announced on January 13.