Last month, Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese did an interview for Empire magazine mostly discussing his upcoming film for Netflix’s The Irishman. During the interview, however, he was asked his opinion on Marvel movies and said that he was not a fan of the movies, with the claim that they are “not cinema.” Since then many have criticized the director’s claim due to how it undermines the talent and effort put into the MCU’s blockbuster success. Scorsese recently wrote an opinion piece for New York Times expanding upon his claims about Marvel movies.
Scorsese stated that he recognized the talent put into Marvel films and him not being a fan is simply a matter of personal taste. He mentioned that over time he has developed a sense of movies and stated that his sense was “far from the Marvel universe as we on Earth are from Alpha Centauri.” Yet Scorsese acknowledges the struggle of being accepted by the mainstream, noting how his own rise to fame happened during an era where he and other directors like Alfred Hitchcock had to prove that they were creating art. He even compares Marvel’s popularity to Hitchcock movies by noting how audiences saw his films as events. The difference between Marvel and Hitchcock, however, is that Marvel films feel more calculated and less risk-taking.
Scorsese fears that with Marvel, “Nothing is at risk. These pictures are made to satisfy a specific set of demands.” It’s a criticism that echoes other critiques of the MCU for becoming more studio-based in recent years, especially compared to directors like Wes Anderson, Ari Aster and Claire Denis who Scorsese feels always offer a new experience. The biggest issue Scorsese has with Marvel’s popularity over smaller filmmakers is how the dominance of superhero films make them a primary choice for studios focused on theatrical releases, wanting their films to be franchised rather than Auteur-driven.
Ultimately Scorsese worries that Hollywood seems disinterested in taking big risks anymore and just wants to focus on franchises like Marvel. He ends his statement by stating, “For anyone who dreams of making movies or who is just starting out, the situation at this moment is brutal and inhospitable to art. And the act of simply writing those words fills me with terrible sadness.”