Avengers: Endgame director Joe and Anthony Russo have finally spoken up over ongoing criticisms of Marvel Studios films. Endgame is now the highest-grossing film of all time, but Marvel has come under scrutiny from directors led by Martin Scorsese, who believes the films are “not cinema.” Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Joe Russo explained his feelings on the matter, beginning with how he and his brother, Anthony, define cinema. "Ultimately, we define cinema as a film that can bring people together to have a shared, emotional experience," he says. "When we look at the box office [of] Avengers: Endgame, we don't see that as a signifier of financial success, we see it as a signifier of emotional success. It's a movie that had an unprecedented impact on audiences around the world in the way that they shared that narrative and the way that they experienced it. And the emotions they felt watching it. But, at the end of the day, what do we know? We're just two guys from Cleveland, Ohio, and 'cinema' is a New York word. In Cleveland, we call them movies."
Anthony Russo looks at it another way that leaves things more open to personal interpretation. "The other way to think about it, too, is nobody owns cinema,” Anthony says. “We don't own cinema. You don't own cinema. Scorsese doesn't own cinema."
The discourse around Marvel Studios films began with Scorsese's comments in an interview. “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,” he said. “It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”
Marvel Studios' head Kevin Feige finally broke his silence in regard to Scorsese's criticisms. “I think it's unfortunate," Feige said on a podcast. "I think myself and everybody that works on these movies loves cinema, loves movies, loves going to the movies, loves to watch a communal experience in a movie theater full of people... I think it's fun for us to take our success and use it to take risks and go in different places. Everybody has a different definition of cinema. Everybody has a different definition of art. Everybody has a different definition of risk. Some people don't think it's cinema. Everybody is entitled to their opinion. Everyone is entitled to repeat that opinion. Everyone is entitled to write op-eds about that opinion. And I look forward to what will happen next. But in the meantime, we're going to keep making movies."
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Upcoming Marvel Studios projects include Black Widow on May 1, 2020, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier in fall 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, Spider-Man 3 on July 16, 2021, What If? In summer 2021, Hawkeye in fall 2021, Thor: Love and Thunder on November 5, 2021, and Black Panther 2 on May 6, 2022. Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight, and She-Hulk are also in the works for Disney+.
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