Martin Scorsese never could have imagined the storm of controversy he would start by commenting on the state of the movie industry, and whether or not Marvel movies count as cinema. To be fair, Scorsese's comments were yanked out of their proper full context, as he actually compared Marvel movies to "theme parks," and said that they aren't "the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being." Scorsese's words took on a new life of their own thanks to the Internet, but in a new interview, the Oscar-winning director elaborates a bit more on Marvel movies, admitting they are cinema... of a kind.
Check out what Martin Scorsese had to say to EW, when given the chance to fully explain his views on Marvel movies:
"The tentpole films, the big comic book films, they’re theme park movies — as well done as many of them are, at all levels. It’s a different cinema form or a new art form entirely. We’re hoping there are theaters that show the films that are not that. And that if they’re not going to show it that filmmakers still have an opportunity with streaming..."
You can head over to EW to read the quote in full - and probably should. The larger context of Scorsese's comments has to do with his personal experience making his new film The Irishman for Netflix. The Oscar-winning director couldn't get his three-hour mob film greenlit at major studios, since the studio system has (as Scorsese points out) moved into a phase of mostly greenlighting major blockbuster franchise films (like the Marvel Cinematic Universe), while throwing little bits of money at independent film projects. He is mostly giving an impassioned plea for more modestly-budgeted "classic cinema" films, while stating that if studios won't invest in those types of movies, filmmakers like himself will move on to the streaming services.
Scorsese is also careful to drop that caveat that MCU movies are indeed cinema - if only a new and different kind of cinema. Hopefully that will clear Scorsese of Marvel fans' wrath, so that we can actually address the real point the filmmaker is making. Hopefully this longer answer from Scorsese will also help end the current media obsession with asking every famous filmmaker and star how he/she feels about Marvel movies - because let's be honest, this has all spun way out of control.
For a full breakdown of the Marvel Movies Cinema debate, listen to episode 77 of our podcast, below!
Scorsese’s The Irishman releases on Netflix November 27.
Upcoming Marvel Studios projects include Black Widow on May 1, 2020, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier in Fall of 2020, The Eternals on November 6, 2020, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings on February 12, 2021, WandaVision in Spring 2021, Loki in Spring 2021, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on May 7, 2021, What If…? In Summer 2021, Hawkeye in Fall 2021, and Thor: Love and Thunder on November 5, 2021. Other MCU properties without release dates include Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight, and She-Hulk.