At the recently concluded London Film Festival, highly acclaimed film director Martin Scorsese triggered a word-war against fans of Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), when he voiced and reiterated criticisms against Marvel superhero movies. Apparently adopting the view of theorists, Scorsese stated that since MCU films are “not cinema” materials, he made an appeal to the movie industry not to allow these types of film to invade theaters.

According to the much revered director, the closest he can think of as equivalent of superhero-themed films, are theme park productions. Mainly because he does not see them as the cinema of human actors who try to convey psychological and emotional experiences to other human beings. That is despite being well made and in which actors do the best they can under the circumstances.

Specifically citing the MCU pictures as examples, he sees the genre as one that deliver amusement park entertainment rather than cinema experience. It does not matter if people go for those productions or not, but his issue is that superhero adventure movies should not invade the film industry. Mr. Scorsese is calling on theater owners to level up by allowing their moviehouses to run narrative films.

Apparently, Director Scorsese is taking a theoretical stance, which typifies cinema art as one that aims to reach viewers of a niche market rather than the audience of the mass market. Theorists view a cinema content as one that is made artistic, symbolic and serious, appealing to aesthetic reasons instead of commercialism.

David Bordwell, film scholar and currently the Jacques Ledoux Professor of Film Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison gives a description of art cinema as

 

“a film genre, with its own distinct
conventions”

Such description seems to be similar to the counter arguments of MCU film defenders.

Arguments in Defense of MCU Movies

In response to a Variety interview regarding Scorsese’s criticism of superhero movies, Samuel L. Jackson, said the director is entitled to his own opinion as do many others who have differing opinions. Jackson who has acted in more Marvel movies than any of his co-stars, believes that superhero movies has the values of cinema art.

He asserts that films are films, in the sense that many will agree Bugs Bunny films are funny, but not every moviegoer would be interested in all Scorsese movies. Not even Italian Americans, since not all are happy with how Scorsese depicts them

MCU’s James Gunn felt saddened by the director’s criticism of superhero films , although admitting that he himself has yet to watch one up to the end.

Robert Downey Jr. who also respects Scorsese’s opinion, pointed out in The Howard Stern Show interview that Marvel films are “genre movies.” Since Scorsese’s fame stems from making several genre films, it is clear that Mr. Scorsese’s issue with MCU movies is the phenomenon of how Marvel movies were able to harness tools offered by genre films; whilst appearing as art form of cinema that came in stomping like a beast that eliminated the competition in a demonstrative way.