Martin Scorsese Thinks Superhero Films Are Like Theme Parks – Special Features #55

Stick with me here, as I’m going to be repeating myself a little bit. A little over a year ago, I wrote an article about Ethan Hawke’s opinion that James Mangold’s Logan is a ‘fine superhero film’ but not a great film. I disagreed with one of my favorite actors, and, in that article, I explained why.

I concluded that: “Even though I have expressed how I disagree with his comments, Hawke shouldn’t be criticized too much for having made them. It is just one man’s opinion. Hawke certainly didn’t ‘attack’ the genre and his comments, therefore, shouldn’t be read as one.”

I still feel this way. Recently another comment made by a man that I admire has made my fellow superhero fanboys upset. Let’s talk about Martin Scorsese’s comments on the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Martin Scorsese is my favorite filmmaker of all-time. Today’s audiences may know him best for Goodfellas or The Wolf of Wall Street, but he is more than just a filmmaker focused on crime and immorality. He has made several masterpieces or near-masterpieces like Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Silence. Like I wrote on Twitter this morning, Martin Scorsese would arguably be on the Mt. Rushmore for American filmmakers if such a thing existed. I admire him and his films. He is a master of cinema.

In an interview with Empire magazine, Scorsese was asked about the success of superhero films and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and, as it turns out, Scorsese isn’t a big fan, even though he has tried to watch some of the films.

“I don’t see them. I tried, you know? But that’s not cinema. 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.” – Martin Scorsese to Empire Magazine.

Unless I’ve somehow missed the full quote, it appears that Scorsese doesn’t speak of the quality of the films but rather their classification or value. I think that if he had said that superhero films couldn’t be great, which it, to me, sounded like Hawke did previously, then I would’ve had a bigger problem with his quote.

But Scorsese’s comparison doesn’t upset me at all. Superhero blockbuster films are, in a way, like theme parks. They are event films. Though I definitely think they are both entertainment texts and art, they are entertainment texts first and foremost. Also, he has not seen all of the films. He admits to not having seen all of them. So he may not have seen the emotional scenes in these films that may or may not have had an impact on audiences.

I’m not going to criticize him for expressing his opinion. I don’t agree with everything he said (I think they absolutely are ‘cinema,’ and some superhero films do awaken strong feelings) but I understand where he is coming from. I may be wrong, but I don’t think he tried to dismiss or insult an entire genre, and I don’t think his theme park-comparison is insulting. I think the internet is currently blowing his comments out of proportion.

I understand if some fanboys or superhero filmmakers think this is an example of film elitism, but I hope that people will stay civil. Scorsese is simply expressing his opinion. You don’t have to agree with him, but you absolutely should respect his opinion. Anyone is entitled to their own opinion, and someone as brilliant as Martin Scorsese is obviously allowed to voice his opinion about the value of superhero films and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.

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