Martin Scorsese has moved to clarify his view on the Marvel Cinematic Universe as his repeated criticism continues to create headlines.
While on a promotional tour of his new film The Irishman, Scorsese has been drawn into the conversation about the impact of superhero films and the ever-expanding franchise that continues to dominate the box office sales. Bluntly responding in his first interview on the subject, Scorsese compared Marvel to theme parks, claimed that they are “not cinema” and then urged theatres to take a stand against the genre.
While his comments have been supported by the likes of Francis Ford Coppola and others of his generation, Scorsese has attempted to clarify his stance and, more recently, attempted to dampen the hysteria around his new comments by claiming that Marvel films are “a new art form” and admitted that cinema and its audience is changing.
Now, in a new article the director has written for the New York Times, Scorsese has raised the subject once more and attempted to properly articulate his views on current cinematic values and detailed the core issues that he struggles to accept with Marvel. “Many franchise films are made by people of considerable talent and artistry. You can see it on the screen,” he writes. “The fact that the films themselves don’t interest me is a matter of personal taste and temperament.
“I know that if I were younger, if I’d come of age at a later time, I might have been excited by these pictures and maybe even wanted to make one myself.”
Scorsese then details that his core issue with franchise films like Marvel comes down to the fact that the narrative, the story and the direction of the film is heavily “market-researched, audience-tested, vetted, modified, revetted and remodified until they’re ready for consumption” in order to achieve commercial gain a factor, which he believes, results in the films lacking “revelation, mystery or genuine emotional danger. Nothing is at risk.”
Scorsese praises the story-telling ability of Marvel but says that the film “are everything that the films of Paul Thomas Anderson or Claire Denis or Spike Lee or Ari Aster or Kathryn Bigelow or Wes Anderson are not. When I watch a movie by any of those filmmakers, I know I’m going to see something absolutely new and be taken to unexpected and maybe even unnameable areas of experience.”
Scorsese, who has been a prolific cinephile since the age of five, has a love for the finer arts of cinema like no other. For him, the market researched aspect of film creating is impacting the artist value of cinema. While it doesn’t appear that Scorsese’s issue is with the massive financial gain of Marvel, rather its inability to be a free-flowing artistic picture.
“The most ominous change has happened stealthily and under cover of night: the gradual but steady elimination of risk. Many films today are perfect products manufactured for immediate consumption,” Scorsese continues.
“It’s a perilous time in film exhibition, and there are fewer independent theatres than ever. The equation has flipped and streaming has become the primary delivery system. Still, I don’t know a single filmmaker who doesn’t want to design films for the big screen, to be projected before audiences in theatres.”