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(Credit: Gage Skidmore)

James Gunn hits back at Coppola and Scorsese: 'You’re geniuses but you don’t understand Marvel'

Director James Gunn has hit back at Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola in strong defence of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Earlier today we reported the news that Coppola, a famed filmmaker with films such as The Godfather and Apocalypse Now on his CV, joined forces with his colleague Martin Scorsese in criticising the recent wave of Marvel superhero films. “When Martin Scorsese says that the Marvel pictures are not cinema, he’s right because we expect to learn something from cinema, we expect to gain something, some enlightenment, some knowledge, some inspiration,” he said according to report in Agence France-Presse

“I don’t know that anyone gets anything out of seeing the same movie over and over again.”

He continued, “Martin was kind when he said it’s not cinema. He didn’t say it’s despicable, which I just say it is.”

Now, having already laughed off earlier comments from Scorsese, Gunn has taken to social media to fend off Coppola by suggesting they lack the understanding of the Marvel Universe: “Many of our grandfathers thought all gangster movies were the same, often calling them ‘despicable,’” he wrote in a post on Instagram. “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.”

Scorsese, a cinephile with traditional tastes, has been left bewildered by the relentless success Marvel continues to enjoy with every passing release. Having been drawn into a conversation about the rise of Marvel, Scorsese was asked if he had been swept away in the surge of recent films, to which he replied: “I tried, you know?” in an interview with Esquire Magazine. “But that’s not cinema.”

He added: “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.” His comments, quite predictably, were met with instant refutal by members of the Marvel elite and, despite the furore around his criticism, Scorsese again doubled down on his opinion by adding: “The value of a film that is like a theme park film, for example, the Marvel pictures, where the theatres become amusement parks. That’s a different experience. It’s not cinema. It’s something else. Whether you go for it or not, it is something else. We shouldn’t be invaded by it,” he said after the premiere of his recent three-and-a-half-hour film. 

“And so, that’s a big issue. We need the theatre owners to step up for that. To allow theatres to show films that are narrative films. A narrative film can be one long take for three hours, you know? It doesn’t have to be a conventional beginning, middle, and end,” he added.

[MORE] – Martin Scorsese’s essay on the preservation of cinema explains his Marvel criticism