Marvel fans were rankled last week when acclaimed director Martin Scorsese criticized Marvel Studios films, saying they are “not cinema.” Now Kevin Smith, a director often seen as a being at the forefront of popular culture, has responded to Scorsese’s comment. "Martin Scorsese is a genius. But to be fair, my entire film career — even prior to my film career — he's been pretty much saying the same thing about action movies," Smith tells The Hollywood Reporter. "For my money, I think Martin Scorsese made the biggest superhero movie ever, which was The Last Temptation of Christ. Don't get much bigger of a superhero than Jesus. He beats Superman and [Robert] Downey [Jr.] every time, so maybe Martin is bending on that territory."
“My feeling is, Martin Scorsese never sat in a movie theater with his dad and watched the movies of Steven Spielberg in the early '80s or George Lucas in the late '70s,” Smith continued He didn't feel that sense of magic and wonder. I can still step into one of those comic book movies, divorce myself of that fact that I do this for a living, release, and my dead dad is back for a minute, for two hours,. And it's personal for a lot of the audience. You know, and we're not arguing whether or not it counts as cinema. I guarantee you there's something he enjoyed with his parents, like a musical — I bet you some cats would say, 'A musical is not really cinema,' but Martin Scorsese grew up on musicals, and I bet they mean a lot to him. These [Marvel] movies come from a core. They come from a happy childhood. And they're reflections of a happy childhood. He's not wrong, but at the same time, neither are we for loving those movies. And they are cinema."
Scorsese's comments about the success of Marvel films during an interview set off this entire conversation. “I don’t see them. I tried, you know? But that’s not cinema,” he said. “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. It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”
Scorsese doubled down on those comments during an event tied to the release of his latest film, The Irishman. "The value of a film that’s like a theme park film, for example, the Marvel type pictures where the theaters become amusement parks, that’s a different experience,” he said. “As I was saying earlier, it's not cinema, it’s something else. Whether you go for that or not, it is something else and we shouldn’t be invaded by it. And so that’s a big issue, and we need the theater owners to step up for that to allow theaters to show films that are narrative films.”
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