Director Martin Scorsese, pictured in September 2019, took a shot at superhero blockbusters Photo: AFP/File
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Scorsese slams Marvel films as 'not cinema'

36 Comments
By VALERIE MACON

Oscar-winner Martin Scorsese has touched off a firestorm among filmmakers, claiming super-hero blockbusters like the ones Marvel makes were "not cinema."

"I don't see them. I tried, you know? But that's not cinema," Scorsese told Britain's Empire magazine about the Marvel movies.

"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," the 76-year old director of the forthcoming "The Irishman" quipped.

"It isn't the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being," he went on.

The jab from the beloved director of legendary hits such as "Taxi Driver," "Raging Bull" and "Casino," sent many jaws dropping in Hollywood, where blockbuster business is also beloved.

"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," tweeted James Gunn, director of "Guardians of the Galaxy."

"I'm saddened that he's now judging my films in the same way."

"Anyone who thinks Marvel is only trying to make theme park rides is being unjust and cynical," added C Robert Cargill, a screenwriter on "Doctor Strange."

"I think one of the greatest fallacies in modern thought is that cinema has to be challenging," he added on Twitter.

"Not only does this dismiss a lot of great films most would call cinema, but it discounts the idea that cinema can be accessible to all, that it can capture the imagination of 8yr olds," he said.

© 2019 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

36 Comments
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Gotta agree with Marty here. But instead of saying they aren't cinema, so as to not ruffle feathers, he should've just said they're garbage.

11 ( +15 / -4 )

he should've just said they're garbage.

Lol. I agree.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

Oh snobbery.

Scorsese makes great cinema. That does not mean that these other films are not cinema, they're just a different genre. I don't like them, but they are obviously loved by a lot of people.

I actually like the idea of multiple movies that build up the story of a whole universe, with intertwined characters etc. The problem is that I just don't like superhero movies all that much, so I don't have the motivation to try to follow it. But for people who liked comics when they were young, and/or like the superhero movies now, it's a great time for cinema. I have a buddy who grew up on comics, and he loves these movies. It's nice to see my friend have something to be happy about, even if I'm not into the movies myself.

4 ( +10 / -6 )

I have kids that enjoy seeing them, so I must watch Marvel flicks as well. As good as they are, the affect these kinds of movies have on the reviewing of true sci-fi flicks worries me. People who are used to more action judge anything else as boring and slow by comparison. I have tried to introduce sci-fi movies I grew up with and my kids just can't watch them. They fall asleep.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

agree that he’s a snob.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

What he says does sound elitist, but maybe what Marty's really expressing here is a fear that the old Italian movies he loved and talked about in My Voyage To Italy will become lost, because no-one will have the attention span to watch them anymore. A process which is probably already on its way.

Rossellini, De Sica, Fellini, Visconti... it'd be a shame if those guys' movies just became things for film students to study.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Alas, Scorsese could have worded this better, but I understand the sentiment.

Translation: Marvel films are not Oscar Best Picture candidates. I challenge anyone to argue that there is a Marvel movie that deserves to be a contender for an Oscar Best Picture.

The average Marvel film is like a guilty airport novel. Fun, breezy, entertaining, and potentially even well put together, but really lacking any depth or substance.

I think Scorsese is just reflecting his age and the era in which he learned film making. And my guess is that he just doesn't relate to these movies, particularly their extensive use of CGI.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

You can also pop over to The Guardian where there are 1,326 comments on this very subject lol

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2019/oct/04/martin-scorsese-says-marvel-movies-are-not-cinema

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This is a good example of why movie tickets are sold. If you don't like a particular movie, don't buy a ticket. LOL

1 ( +4 / -3 )

"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," tweeted James Gunn, director of "Guardians of the Galaxy."

"I'm saddened that he's now judging my films in the same way."

Take it easy James, I’m guessing he wouldn't have said that about Guardians of the Galaxy had he seen it. Besides, G of the G was not a “super-hero blockbuster”.

The writer of this interpretation of an interview sucks. Asked if Scorcesse had seen any “Marvel” movies, but DC Comics is way more “theme park” type movie making than Marvel. The writing and humor in Marvel, especially with Downey Jr. far surpasses DC. That Lebowski quip in the Avengers I watched last week still has me chuckling.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

He is free to state his opinion.

Of course, people are also free to state their opinion about his opinion. My opinion is that he sounded like a salty old man.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

I fully understand what he is saying. However, superhero flicks employ lots of movie people and fill movie theaters, and anything that keeps movie theaters open must be good for cinema.

I think this contrasts with low-brow versions of other things. In electronic music for example, I don't think house or techno particularly gain anything from the popularity of EDM. I don't think there are any examples of people making money off EDM and using it to finance more artistically satisfying pursuits. The more money actors and movie technicians make off Superman, the less money they can charge for any arthouse movie they do.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Honestly, I've never seen one. My son, who works in the movie business and is my go-to guy for critiques (he can talk for an hour about a movie) basically concludes that they are all the same movie and are made primarily with merchandising in mind. Yet he still goes to see them. Eye candy for the young.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The whole medium of movies is that they are visual, so eye candy makes sense as a usage of the medium.

I enjoy some eye candy movies, even when the story is only so-so.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

On the one hand, I cannot bring myself to go watch any of the Marvel movies. Just too boring.

On the other hand, lots of people seem to enjoy them, and no one is hurt in the process, so go have fun watching something that some of us find silly, at best.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The average Marvel film is like a guilty airport novel. Fun, breezy, entertaining, and potentially even well put together, but really lacking any depth or substance.

well they are based off comic books,

end of the day the audience will decide what they like or dont and the record box office receipts they generate would argue that Mr Scorsese is out of touch with reality

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I once heard a writer looking down on film as a lesser art form than novels. I suppose the same writer would sneer at my choice of books. I think it was Gore Vidal who said photography the art form of the untalented. My wife thinks pop music is fun but basically for children.

I don’t know where you stop with the snobbery. I’m not a big film fan and I wonder if any directors would look down on Mr Scorsese’s films. For me, I remember watching Casino after watching Goodfellas and thinking it was basically the same film. I get the same feeling with superhero films.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Martin Scorsese makes "art house" films. They are the type he has the knowledge to critique. He does not like Sci-Fi films and that's his right.

Personally I find many of his films unwatchable and boring while the Marvel films for the most part are entertaining which is the primary goal of cinema. But then I like Sci-Fi and am not into art house.

Viewers cover all elements of cinema from the slow romance to the wildlife documentary to the action, drama, comedy and Sci-Fi. Lets not forget horror and fantasy.

Some people like all genres and some only one or two. Some films are A grade and others B or for the worst C grade movies. If it entertains and has at least some fans then its valid cinema.

I would say Martin is unable to let himself use his imagination and let go with a make believe sci-fi fantasy for an hour or two and just enjoy the ride. Fun is not his style.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

As some have hinted at - it would have been more appropriate for him to have said something like -

"Well they're not my kind of cinema."

As-a-matter-of-fact - not an opinion -  he is wrong of course. They represent stories made for the big screen and shown in cinemas. They ARE cinema.

Just they don't fit his narrative. Not much different than a Classical music Debussy aficionado decry the brutal sounds of Megadeath as ...well...it's just not music. It is.

Times change. Societies change. Culture changes.

Perhaps Martin still likes old bakelite dial phones - you know where you can feel like you're really trying to connect - and shuns smart phones as lacking in tactile emotion.

I love all genres of film as long as the quality of make and story fit the genre. A spiderman movie is just that. A rompish, action with a wink spiderman movie. It's not trying to be the "Godfather".

And the genre imo has produced pure gems.

While not Marvel but of DC comics origin, Christopher Nolans Batman: Dark Knight Triology is an exercise in sublime cinema. The finale Dark Knight Rises has the grip, the depth, the rawness, the grapple to match any other movie in any field of action/drama/suspense.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I'm inclined to agree with Martin Scorsese. I've given up on Marvel movies these days. It was bad enough that they were very generic and very unoriginal, but when they started copying ideas from their own franchise, that's when I realised that they'd run out of ideas, and so resorted to SFX to cover that up. And don't even get me started on the plot of Infinity War. Cripes.

Listen, just because a movie sells a lot of tickets, doesn't mean it makes good cinema. You can make a similar comparison with most modern pop stars. How many of those would you really consider a singer? And yet they can still pack a giant stadium to the rafters. With the right marketing and PR, talent becomes a lesser priority than marketability, and Marvel is a strong example of that.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Agree with Scorsese.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Listen, just because a movie sells a lot of tickets, doesn't mean it makes good cinema. You can make a similar comparison with most modern pop stars. How many of those would you really consider a singer? And yet they can still pack a giant stadium to the rafters.

Definitely agree with that.

With the right marketing and PR, talent becomes a lesser priority than marketability, and Marvel is a strong example of that.

Again, spot on, we definitely don’t need to mention FOX then.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

fox sora winters -

I think your comment, ****"... doesn't mean it makes good cinema...." is the crux of the debate as titled by the article.

It is cinema, just in some opinions, not "good cinema".

Scorcese said it's "not cinema".

And I can only assume what he meant by that, is it doesn't fit his narrow mould of what constitutes cinema.

Good cinema / Bad cinema whatever you want to call it - it is without doubt cinema. Undeniable.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

SpeedToday 07:35 am JSTGotta agree with Marty here. But instead of saying they aren't cinema, so as to not ruffle feathers, he should've just said they're garbage.

Those films dilute the original characters into wimps. The films are too commercial and no social issued are addressed like they are in good comics. They ARE garbage, rubbish, tra$h.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

i think Scorsese believes that he earned the right to be a pretentious snob.

but, who cares? i,m gonna keep enjoying both his movies and some (i repeat, some) Marvel movies.

but just some little questions: why Star Wars and George Lucas get all the love and respect and other sci fi movies (in this case, Marvel) get all the hate? is it because of comic books? or is it because some people can,t stand the fact that these movies are breaking box office records? times change and people like Scorsese can,t (or don,t want to) accept it (remember, the man is 76).

personally, the only Star Wars movie i like is Rogue One. it,s impossible for me to enjoy the other movies, same way i don,t like the Guardians of the Galaxy movies (among others) - too many weird stuff (and characters) going on (in a very weird way). but it,s funny how people respect Star Wars but these snobs just criticize comic book movies. nobody can criticize movies like Logan and The Dark Knight trilogy.

instead of saying it,s not cinema (it is. no matter what he says), he should,ve just said that these movies are not his cup of tea.

but, i kind of understad. it,s like Mozart coming to 2019 and say that genres like hiphop and pop are not music.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

( understand* )

and not just Star Wars but many other movies look ridiculous and don,t have any real depth. but Marvel and comic book movies in general are the easy prey.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

THE WHOOOOOOOLE TRUTH !!!..

Marvel, DC, Disney = Garbage of garbage of garbage !!..

Represent the decadent United States pop "culture"..

Sorry, no bonus.. lol!!..

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Lol, how many of ya guys would sit thru The Last Temptation of Christ

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It is very easy to write off such an opinion as showing his age or snobbery... a bit too easy. But there is no reason for such movies to not have more depth, consistency, originality, more complicated plots and characters, better twists surprises that are more psychological than visual. If it were not for Robert Downey Jr.'s performances I would not have seen more than two. As it is, I think two is all I bothered with.

Of course when he said "not cinema" he meant "trash cinema". It was like saying the French cuisine that somehow made its way to the garbage can is not French cuisine. If you are insisting it technically is, well, you missed the point.

It really is possible to make awful movies that the lowest common denominator will love and flock to see. And if you like movies where you basically put your brain on auto-pilot and still understand everything, no need to get offended by the observation....just own it. Its your life.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I love film.

The hysteria surrounding Joker reminds me of A Clockwork Orange, or Fight Club. It's amusing because Scorsese was originally on board to produce the film.

I think he's trying to stoke up tension between DC and Marvel fans ;-)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The same could have been said of "Star Wars"... but then who would have disagreed ?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I've watched many, really many Movies, though there are few that I'd watch again, and again thereafter.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If Movies were deeply discounted to watch 1st time (or even free based on ID) and thereafter made DVD only, then that would truely be an indication of Greatness of the production.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Lol, how many of ya guys would sit thru The Last Temptation of Christ

Twice. Was a big Scorsese fan when it came out but didn't really get it. Loved the soundtrack, though.

When I saw it again, years later, the penny dropped. When Dafoe's character is confronted by Harry Dean Stanton who tells him it doesn't matter if he is the man in question... what matters is that people believe the myth, not the person. Awesome.

Still think Keitel's accent is a bit ropey, mind.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I've watched many, really many Movies, though there are few that I'd watch again, and again thereafter.

I try to avoid multiple viewings these days, as time is finite and there's still so many classics and new films to take in.

That said, I'd happily sit through Brazil or Some Like it Hot again.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Scorsese, the filmmaker, I respect, but most of his movies are bloated, flawed by longueurs and an overload of gravitas. He would have ruffled fewer feathers if he had chosen his words more judiciously and said something like: Friends, Romans and countrymen, irrespective of genre we can simplify matters by classifying movies into two categories: good movies and bad movies with the caveat, "De gustibus non disputandum est", don't ya think?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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