After legendary director Martin Scorsese criticized Marvel superhero films as “not cinema” — unleashing a torrent of criticism of Scorsese by Marvel movie fans — the director laid out a detailed explanation of his position on the Marvel franchise in an opinion piece published Monday by The New York Times.
To some extent, Scorsese appears to roll back his original comments. “Many franchise films are made by people of considerable talent and artistry,” he writes. “You can see it on the screen. The fact that the films themselves don’t interest me is a matter of personal taste and temperament.”
He adds: “I know that if I were younger, if I’d come of age at a later time, I might have been excited by these pictures and maybe even wanted to make one myself. But I grew up when I did and I developed a sense of movies — of what they were and what they could be — that was as far from the Marvel universe as we on Earth are from Alpha Centauri.”
He goes on to cite parallels between the Marvel franchise and the work of Alfred Hitchcock decades earlier.
“I suppose you could say that Hitchcock was his own franchise. Or that he was our franchise,” Scorsese writes. “Every new Hitchcock picture was an event. … And in a way, certain Hitchcock films were also like theme parks. I’m thinking of ‘Strangers on a Train,’ in which the climax takes place on a merry-go-round at a real amusement park, and ‘Psycho,’ which I saw at a midnight show on its opening day, an experience I will never forget. People went to be surprised and thrilled, and they weren’t disappointed.”
Continuing the Hitchcock reference, Scorsese adds: “Some say that Hitchcock’s pictures had a sameness to them, and perhaps that’s true — Hitchcock himself wondered about it. But the sameness of today’s franchise pictures is something else again. Many of the elements that define cinema as I know it are there in Marvel pictures. What’s not there is revelation, mystery or genuine emotional danger. Nothing is at risk. The pictures are made to satisfy a specific set of demands, and they are designed as variations on a finite number of themes.”
We encourage readers to click on the link above to The New York Times to read Scorsese’s full column.