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Martin Scorsese says Marvel films are ‘not cinema’
Via Wikimedia Commons

Martin Scorsese says Marvel films are ‘not cinema’

The director has continued his criticism of the superhero blockbusters

Following his criticism of Marvel movies earlier this month, Martin Scorsese has spoken up again about the ubiquity of the superhero blockbusters, urging cinemas to instead prioritise narrative films.

The Oscar-winning filmmaker was doing a press conference for his latest film, The Irishman (a Netflix film starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro), when he said of Marvel films: “It’s not cinema, it’s something else. We shouldn’t be invaded by it. We need cinemas to step up and show films that are narrative films.”

Scorsese faced backlash after his initial comments two weeks ago, including from Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn, who tweeted: “Martin Scorsese is one of my five favourite living filmmakers. I was outraged when people picketed The Last Temptation of Christ without having seen the film. I’m saddened that he’s now judging my films in the same way.” The Taxi Driver director seemingly responded to Gunn’s frustration at the press conference, saying Marvel films are “fine and good for those who enjoy that type of film”. He continued: “Knowing what goes into them now, I admire what they do. It’s not my kind of thing.” 

The filmmaker’s comments come at a time when the latest Joker film is dominating box offices. Based on DC Comics characters, and starring Joaquin Phoenix – as well as Robert De Niro in a supporting role – the Joker is inspired by Scorsese’s ouvere, with the director reportedly once attached to the project as a producer. 

In an interview with Empire Magazine, Scorsese said: “The closest I can think of (Marvel films), 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.” 

While many people will undoubtedly disagree with the director’s opinion, there’s no denying that Hollywood is obsessed with spin-offs and reboots. No matter your view of Marvel films, you do have to question: is the film industry in a creative desert, or looking backwards for reassurance in an era of turbulence?