One of the biggest stories in the world of pop culture in 2019 was acclaimed filmmaker Martin Scorsese drawing comparisons between some superhero films and the experience of riding a theme park attraction, with subsequent weeks seeing countless opinions being shared from all corners of the Hollywood industry and fandom, some of which supported and others which refuted Scorsese's stance on the topic. Richard Donner, who directed 1978's Superman: The Movie, recently weighed in on the topic, nothing that he could see where Scorsese was coming from but that, even within that world, there are still opportunities for superhero films to stand out from their peers.
"Well, I'd like to be able to make one of those theme park rides!" Donner joked to Telegraph about Scorsese's theme park comparison. "The problem is, a lot of times, we see in our industry that when the technical lens becomes readily available, it's totally misused. But at the same time, every once in a while you really see quite a wonderful story with one of these films."
While these comments don't entirely reflect Scorsese's remarks, his admission that technological advancements are often misused largely echo Scorsese's emphasis that a number of comic book films offer only hollow thrills.
"I don't see them. I tried, you know? But that's not cinema," Scorsese told Empire magazine last fall. "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."
Donner also noted that, when superhero films aim to embrace the "grittier" side of comics, he doesn't connect with them as strongly, given the many tragedies of the real world.
"There are so many people that make superheroes so cynical, it's depressing," the filmmaker confessed. "When they're dark and bleak and angry with themselves and the world, I don't find it entertaining. I think there's enough reality going on for that. We just got over four years of that [under president Donald Trump]. I think we crave the opposite."
He added, "When you see it done right, by my standards, it's so fulfilling. I'm very happy and proud when I see them. When it's done wrong, it's such a disappointment."
Donner next hopes to direct the final installment in the Lethal Weapon series.
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