Prolific filmmaker Martin Scorsese says Marvel movies are “not cinema” and compares superhero fare to theme parks. Speaking to Empire Magazine ahead of the release of Netflix original movie The Irishman, reuniting him with his Goodfellas and Casino stars Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, the Taxi Driver and The Departed director was asked about the proliferation of the superhero genre and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Scorsese then admitted he tried and failed to get into Marvel movies, which he sees as more play pretend than genuine human drama.
“I don’t see them. I tried, you know? But that’s not cinema,” Scorsese told Empire. “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.”
When speaking on the Disney-owned studio’s lack of awards success in June 2018, Marvel Studios president and producer Kevin Feige said Marvel is more concerned with captivating moviegoers over winning favor at the Oscars or other major film award ceremonies.
“Maybe it’s easy to dismiss VFX or flying people or spaceships or billion dollar grosses. I think it is easy to say that you have already been awarded in a certain way,” Feige said during the Produced By conference. “[Alfred] Hitchcock never won best director, so it’s very nice, but it doesn’t mean everything. I would much rather be in a room full of engaged fans.”
The Ryan Coogler-directed Black Panther would go on to become the first superhero film nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Rival studio Warner Bros.’ newest film, Todd Phillips’ R-rated DC Comics drama Joker, took heavy inspiration from Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and The King of Comedy. In turn, Joker recruited frequent Scorsese collaborator De Niro for his first comic book movie.
“There’s a ton of specific inspirations we had for this movie. Taxi Driver, obviously, is one of my favorite movies, but it’s not directly that. I think it’s more a time period of movies,” Phillips noted during a press conference in Venice.
“Movies from these great character studies that they don’t do as much nowadays as they did in the late ‘70s, whether it was [One Flew Over the] Cuckoo’s Nest, or Taxi Driver, or Serpico, or Raging Bull, of course, King of Comedy,” Phillips continued. “Marty was doing a ton back then. And even things like [1928 silent film] The Man Who Laughs — I mean, we were watching a lot of musicals, Scott [Silver] and I, when we were writing it.”
Scorsese’s The Irishman releases on Netflix November 27.