After Martin Scorsese was criticized for saying Marvel films were "not cinema," fellow director Francis Ford Coppola, 80, defended the Goodfellas director. "I don't know that anyone gets anything out of seeing the same movie over and over again," he said of the Marvel movies after receiving the Prix Lumière on Friday.
The Godfather director agreed with Scorsese, saying, “He's right because we expect to learn something from cinema, we expect to gain something, some enlightenment, some knowledge, some inspiration." Coppola, however, took it one step further, adding, "Martin was kind when he said it's not cinema. He didn't say it's despicable, which I just say it is."
The comments from Hollywood’s old guard have not sat well with others in the industry, like Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn, Josh Whedon, Kevin Smith and more. Despite the criticism, Scorsese is not backing down, saying Marvel pics are "theme park films" that have overtaken movie theaters.
At an October 13 press conference with Robert De Niro and Al Pacino before the closing-night screening of Scorsese’s new film The Irishman at the BFI London Film Festival, he reiterated his original comment, saying, "It's not cinema, it’s something else. We shouldn’t be invaded by it. We need cinemas to step up and show films that are narrative films."
The director also added during BAFTA's annual David Lean lecture, "Theaters have become amusement parks. That is all fine and good, but don’t invade everything else in that sense. That is fine and good for those who enjoy that type of film and, by the way, knowing what goes into them now, I admire what they do. It’s not my kind of thing, it simply is not. It’s creating another kind of audience that thinks cinema is that."
Gunn responded to both directors on Instagram, taking aim are their age, and saying that their opinion is the same one that older generations had of gangster films, which is the genre most associated with Scorsese and Coppola. “Many of our grandfathers thought all gangster movies were the same, often calling them ‘despicable’,” Gunn wrote. “Some of our great grandfathers thought the same of westerns and believed the films of John Ford, Sam Peckinpah, and Sergio Leone were all exactly the same.”
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Many of our grandfathers thought all gangster movies were the same, often calling them “despicable”. Some of our great grandfathers thought the same of westerns, and believed the films of John Ford, Sam Peckinpah, and Sergio Leone were all exactly the same. I remember a great uncle to whom I was raving about Star Wars. He responded by saying, “I saw that when it was called 2001, and, boy, was it boring!” Superheroes are simply today’s gangsters/cowboys/outer space adventurers. Some superhero films are awful, some are beautiful. Like westerns and gangster movies (and before that, just MOVIES), not everyone will be able to appreciate them, even some geniuses. And that’s okay. ❤️
He continued, recalling a great uncle who hated Star Wars and comparing today’s superheroes to the gangsters/cowboys/outer space adventurers of the past. “Some superhero films are awful, some are beautiful. Like westerns and gangster movies (and before that, just MOVIES), not everyone will be able to appreciate them, even some geniuses. And that’s okay. ❤️,” he wrote.
The back and forth between the older directors and the new crop of film creators began when Scorsese was interviewed by Empire magazine for The Irishman and he said that he had been unable to sit through a Marvel movie. Naturally, the social media backlash was swift with MCU actors like Robert Downey Jr. weighing in on the comments. Meanwhile, Gunn, who said Scorsese was among his top five favorite living filmmakers, recalled being outraged when people protested The Last Temptation of Christ without having seen the film. “I’m saddened that he’s now judging my films in the same way,” he said.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe, which encompasses all of the Marvel superhero films, is the most successful film franchise of all time, having grossed more than $18 billion worldwide — $4 billion of which it made in 2018 alone. It also owns the highest-grossing movie of all time with Avengers: Endgame.
The Irishman will hit theaters on November 1 and arrive on Netflix on November 27.