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Mike Leigh says superhero films "perverts the minds of the audiences"


The cinematic culture war between the mainstream and independent circuit rages on as British filmmaker Mike Leigh reveals he is with Ridley Scott, Martin Scorsese and more in the criticism of modern superhero movies. 

Sitting down with the director to discuss his ongoing season in collaboration with the BFI, which has seen the likes of Bleak Moments, Naked and High Hopes re-released in cinemas, Mike Leigh revealed his thoughts on the trends of modern cinema. Asking him if he agreed with Martin Scorsese’s view that he “didn’t see superhero films as cinema”, Leigh gave a considered response. 

“There are two ways of looking at that,” the filmmaker exclusively told Far Out. “I know where he’s coming from and his heart’s definitely in the right place…we fundamentally talk the same language. There’s room for everything and some things are to be taken more seriously than others”.

Continuing, the director added: “If Scorsese resents the amount of time, effort, energy, creativity and money that’s put into superhero films, then I’m with him and the amount of all that stuff that’s out there is such that it perverts the minds of the audiences to thinking that is what cinema is. That’s bad news”. 

Martin Scorsese revealed his thoughts about superhero cinema back in 2019 in an interview with Empire magazine, where he compared the likes of Iron Man, The Avengers and Spider-Man to mere “theme parks”, stating: “It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being”. The director has since encouraged others to share their thoughts on the latest cinematic trend, with Ridley Scott the most recent to suggest the sub-genre was “boring as shit”.

Mike Leigh is far more measured, however, noting: “There’s room in culture for all kinds of stuff”. Whilst he appreciates the need for variety, he also asserts, “Naked is having a release in the cinemas. That is going to be a limited release in some kinds of cinemas, mostly independent. There isn’t any reason in the world why the likes of Naked shouldn’t be out there amongst a rich diet of all kinds of films, in all cinemas everywhere for everybody. But that isn’t going to happen because of the culture of the likes of superhero films”.

Naked and Bleak Moments are available on BFI Blu-ray from November 29th. StudioCanal’s 4K remastered Blu-rays of All or Nothing and Vera Drake are available now.