Disney CEO Bob Iger has a theory about why legendary director Martin Scorsese — later joined by his directing contemporary, Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola — was able to convincingly slam Marvel movies as essentially low-brow, fluffy tripe that’s not worthy of being described as “cinema.” Iger’s theory boils down to this: Scorsese has likely never actually sat down and watched one of the nearly two dozen films that comprise the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“Anyone who has seen a Marvel movie could not in all truth make that statement,” Iger said during a BBC radio interview in recent days. Yet make that statement Scorsese did, which inspired Coppola to chime in and slam superhero movies even harder by calling them “despicable.”
Coppola has since tried to walk that comment back, insisting that his point was lost in translation (which is also the title of a film by his director daughter Sofia Coppola, ha!) which made it seem like he was calling all Marvel movies “despicable.” When in fact he was referring to superhero franchises more broadly.
“Personally, I don’t like the idea of franchises,” Coppola told Deadline by way of cleaning up his remarks and the press coverage they generated. “The notion that you can keep repeating what is essentially the same movie for financial gain — in other words, what is a formulaic approach.”
Look, the fact of the matter is this is such a silly spat to have and to spend any amount of time on. There’s a reason one Marvel movie in particular, Avengers: Endgame, is currently the biggest box office draw of all time. They’re just as cinematic in scope, in their aesthetic, and in the storytelling vision as films like The Godfather and The Irishman (the latter of which is Scorsese’s hotly anticipated new mob flick coming to Netflix later this month). That’s why Iger himself has stepped up to defend the studio’s films from misplaced attacks by great artists who think the same thing a lot of people used to think — that anything related to a comic book or superhero lacks substance and any semblance of meaningful art. (And if we’re going to be nitpicky — it could be argued that The Irishman is mostly something other than cinema since thanks to its Netflix hybrid release most people will stream it at home rather than watch from a theater seat. But I digress.)
“Marvel is making movies — that’s what Martin Scorsese makes,” Iger told the BBC. “And they are good movies, good directors and good writers and good actors, good cinematographers, and good costume designers, and good sound engineers, and good editors … These are talented, talented people putting their hard work and talent into making films that entertain people in theaters around the world….They have a good two-hour experience. They come out feeling happy or better about themselves.”
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