Acclaimed filmmaker Martin Scorsese made headlines last week – not because of his highly anticipated “The Irishman” that opens in theaters soon and is available on Netflix November 26th although that happened too – but it was because he obtusely claimed Marvel movies are not “cinema.”
His long time buddy and part of the “brat pack” – a new generation of filmmakers that stormed onto the scene following the end of the Golden Era in Hollywood – Francis Ford Coppola rushed to his side agreeing with Scorsese about Marvel movies reiterating “That’s not cinema.”
But Martin Scorsese’s and Francis Ford Coppola’s disdain for Marvel movies is hypocritical and here’s why.
It was only a matter of time before a Marvel movie was going to become the highest-grossing film of all time. Of course, that perfect installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to break the records previously held by “Titanic” and then “Avatar,” was “Avengers: Endgame.” Appropriately titled for such an honor, no?
What better Marvel movie than the ending of Phase 3 of a twenty-two-movie plan to make an all-time splash in that way? Not only was it the end of an era with many actors, who started it all not returning to reprise their roles for obvious reasons, but also the amount of star power – in front of and behind the camera – that made it an unprecedented three-hour epic.
In promotion for his early Oscar contender for Best Picture, “The Irishman,” Scorsese made waves by comparing Marvel movies to amusement theme parks, while also saying they’re “not cinema.”
“The Godfather” trilogy director, Francis Ford Coppola, backed his old friend and was even a little more ruthless by saying, “Martin was being kind when he said it wasn’t cinema. He didn’t say it was despicable, which is what I say.”
This is similar to the old guys saying to young kids “Get off my lawn!”
Are they really so down on the direction of the film industry that they needed to express this opinion? Why not just ignore it and say “Meh, it is what it is. I don’t care for it but I also don’t mind that millions of others do.”
Have they been afforded the right to have that opinion? The right answer to that question is unequivocally, yes. Both of the directors have contributed some of the greatest films ever made. Who could argue with that?
But their comments were tone-deaf.
Susan Lacy’s two and a half hour HBO documentary “Spielberg” about the industry’s most famous director ever, Steven Spielberg, they show a clip from a decades old “60 Minutes” interview.
In it, interviewer Ed Bradley asks the younger Spielberg how he feels about many filmmakers claiming his movies are hollow and “not art.”
Spielberg’s answer to this was “I think comments like that are pretentious. Why can’t E.T. flying over the moon be art?”
He’s not wrong. Why can’t it be? Art is literally about provoking thought or emotion. And somehow, for decades, Spielberg had a direct line into American audiences. Nobody knew what Americans wanted to see more than the director for “Jurassic Park,” “E.T. the Extra Terrestrial,” “Jaws” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
Spielberg also created the summer blockbuster and opened the doors for gigantically budgeted movies. Comic book movies wouldn’t exist without Spielberg. It may have been inevitable anyway, but regardless, if you like these films, Spielberg is the one to thank.
George Lucas effectively made a dramatic space opera with the “Star Wars” franchise that is about to be eleven total movies and a slew of spin-off television shows already available and upcoming.
Where are Scorsese’s and Coppola’s criticism of the generation of filmmakers they grew up with?
What’s really the difference between Spielberg’s “Ready Player One” and every Marvel superhero movie? How about Richard Donner’s “Superman” movies?
See, Coppola and Scorsese are quick to criticize an entire twenty two-movie universe – of which they’ve probably only seen one or two considering their public disdain – but have nothing to say of their fellow “brat pack” colleagues?
It’s hypocritical. They would probably change their minds if they watched “Infinity War” and “Endgame.”