Legendary filmmakers Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese were on the receiving end of some major backlash in recent weeks after their comments on Marvel movies left pockets of fans of the superhero genre unhappy. Long story short, Scorsese labelled Marvel movies theme park rides that have invaded cinemas while Coppola called them “despicable.” This naturally didn’t sit right with a lot of people. After all, surely movies like Black Panther and Captain America: Civil War are more than just amusement park rides that provide quick thrills and nothing more.
However, recently, both Scorsese and Coppola have come out to clarify their comments.
In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Scorsese had this to say:
Let’s say a family wants to go to an amusement park. That’s a good thing, you know. And at theme parks there’s these cinematic expressions. They’re a new art form. It’s something different from films that are shown normally in theaters, that’s all. My concern is losing the screens to massive theme park films. which I say again, they’re their own new art form. Cinema now is changing. We have so many venues, there are so many ways to make films. So enjoyable. Fine, go and it’s an event and it’s great to go to an event like an amusement park. But don’t crowd out Greta Gerwig and don’t crowd out Paul Thomas Anderson and Noah Baumbach and those people, in terms of theaters.
Francis Ford Coppola, who helmed what many consider to be the greatest film of all time The Godfather, dove even deeper in an interview with Deadline:
Personally I don’t like the idea of franchises, the notion that you can keep repeating what is essentially the same movie for financial gain — in other words what is a formulaic approach. I feel that approach is taken to reduce the economic risk of movies and I feel the ‘risk factor’ is an element that makes movies sometimes be great. Also the formulaic film draws most available resources to them, leaving little for more daring productions, reducing diversity.
In some ways I think the cinema is like food; certainly you can add things to make it tempting, tasty and enjoyable but it must also be nutritious to qualify as real food.
Coppola also mentioned that he fully believes that Martin Scorsese is well aware of the cinematic talent and expression that are present in the Marvel movies.
You know I’m sure you’re extracting from whatever Martin said. The gist of his statement. If you asked him is there is cinematic talent, cinematic expression, is there great even work in certain Marvel films, he would say yes. But what his point his, is that the concept of the Marvel film which has eaten up all the oxygen, which is to say the resources is not really is more of a theme park ride than what we would call cinema. Yes, I agree with him. (Pause for translation) But also television commercials is cinema – but is it a beautiful form of cinema? No.
Well you know because of the lack of risk in the production. Marty Scorsese says that the Marvel picture is not cinema, he’s right because we expect to learn something from cinema, we expect to gain some enlightenment, some knowledge, some inspiration. Arguably, I don’t know that anyone gets anything out of seeing the same movie over and over again, which is the Marvel movies. A thing that has no risk to it, I’ve said before, making a film without risk is like making a baby without sex. Part of it is risk, and that’s what make it so interesting, that’s why we learn so much when it’s made.
I think Coppola hit the nail on the head here. I love the MCU, but my issue with a lot of the MCU films is that they don’t take chances. Apart from the likes of The Winter Soldier, Civil War, Black Panther and a couple of others, the MCU films do feel like genuinely fun films that are churned out in a factory. The best kind films are the ones that take big risks and push the envelope. Films like Joker and Logan come to mind.