Legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese (Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Casino) has doubled down on his criticisms regarding Marvel Studios’ movies. As part of the panel discussing the future of cinema for the closing night screening of his latest film, The Irishman, at the British Film Institute’s London Film Festival, Scorsese once again compared Marvel movies to theme parks. This time around, his comments were far more intense, saying that movie theatres shouldn’t be invaded by these films.
“The value of a film that’s like a theme park film, for example, the Marvel type pictures where the theatres become amusement parks, that’s a different experience. As I was saying earlier, it’s not cinema, it’s something else. Whether you go for that or not, it is something else and we shouldn’t be invaded by it. And so that’s a big issue, and we need the theater owners to step up for that to allow theaters to show films that are narrative films.”
To give you a quick refresher, last week, Scorsese had this to say:
“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.”
Now, I love Martin Scorsese. In fact, he still is to this day one of my favourite directors. I also love a lot of his films — particularly Raging Bull and Taxi Driver — a hell of a lot more than I do most Marvel Cinematic Universe movies (I think it’s fairly safe to assume that Scorsese is specifically talking about Marvel Studios’ MCU as it pumps out about 3 movies a year quickly and consistently). However, Scorsese’s comments do feel a little uninformed. The MCU movies, whether you like them or not, are absolutely narrative films filled with character arcs.
There’s also the issue with Scorsese saying that he doesn’t actually watch these movies, which is fine. But if he hasn’t seen a lot of these movies, then how he is able to deduce that they are nothing but amusement park rides? I think most of us would agree that a film like Black Panther is a completely different beast from the likes of say Hobbs & Shaw and Angel Has Fallen.
But I do see where Scorsese’s frustration stems from. The landscape of cinema has drastically changed over the past decade or so. Gone are the days of the “summer blockbuster.” These days, mega-budget movies get released as early as February and stretch all the way to December, leaving very little room for other films to thrive. While micro-budgeted indie movies have managed to find their place among the giants (see Get Out, Hereditary), studios are less inclined to pick up and distribute a $US 140 million film like The Irishman in cinemas, in fear of not making a profit.
It’s a shame that a Martin Scorsese gangster film starring Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino won’t be getting a wide theatrical release across the globe. Back in the late 80s and early 90s, these type of films would’ve been considered a huge box office draw.