Martin Scorsese: I Said Marvel Movies Aren’t Cinema. Let Me Explain.

    Cinema is an art form that brings you the unexpected. In superhero movies, nothing is at risk, a director says.

    Guest op-ed @ by Martin Scorcese, Nov. 4


    Can't help you, I'm on Jason's side.

    At least display it somewhere else, in its own little gallery-the Pigalle nabe might be an appropriate choice-charge a Disney-sized ticket price and use the profits to maintain the Louvre collection like, you know, an art museum, for people who want go and see art.

    no, I mean your turn to post another crotchety NYTimes anti-conventional taste story.
    surely we haven't run out?

    How about effete-cinephile-splainin' of Scorcese's op-ed over at The New Yorker, will that do?

    Martin Scorsese’s Radical Attack on Marvel Movies, by Richard Brody under "Cultural Comment" heading, Nov. 6

    Richard Brody began writing for The New Yorker in 1999 and has contributed articles about the directors François TruffautJean-Luc Godard, and Wes Anderson. Since 2005, he has been the movie-listings editor at the magazine; he writes film reviews and a blog about movies. He is the author of the book “Everything Is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard” and is at work on a book about the French New Wave.


    [....] What Scorsese is decrying is not the use of fantasy characters in movies. (A few days ago, he said that he even considered making “Joker,” though I wonder whether he was joking.) There’s a word in the first sentence of the piece that, clearly but subtly, propels the through line of his argument. He doesn’t complain about “superhero” movies; he says that, in Empire, he was speaking of “Marvel movies.” He repeats “Marvel” in the second paragraph, and then, in the third paragraph, specifies what he’s talking about: “franchise films.” Scorsese isn’t inveighing against fantasy but against a system of production that submerges directors’ authority in a network of dictates and decisions issued from the top down—a network in which the director is more of a functionary than a creator.

    Scorsese doesn’t so much lament the existence of such a corporatized and impersonal mode of production as decry its dominance. He contends that this system is rooted in “the gradual but steady elimination of risk. Many films today are perfect products manufactured for immediate consumption.” For an example of what he means, it’s worth comparing most of the superhero movies made by Marvel with another superhero movie—indeed, the ultimate superhero movie—one that Scorsese himself made, in the nineteen-eighties: “The Last Temptation of Christ.” Whereas Marvel movies are conceived in terms of fan service, to gratify the affinity and the devotion of their acolytes to the characters and the series, Scorsese made a movie, based on a novel by Nikos Kazantzakis, that challenged the tradition and the orthodoxy surrounding its characters. In doing so, he encountered grave risks, risks far greater than financial matters—and so did the studio, Universal, that produced the film [....]

    That's a very inept comparison. Of course Marvel doesn't compare well against The Last Temptation of Christ. They're not even in the same genre. A more apt comparison might be Barabbas which also doesn't stand up well when compared to the Last Temptation.

    Last Temptation's clumsy in its own right - a Dutch guy with pronounced European teeth as Jesus, Harvey Keitel from Brooklyn as Judas, Jesus pulling his heart out and showing it to someone as if he were Bruce Lee...  One day I'll take another look, but from what i remember he screwed up an amazing book. (Kazantzakis was also a huge fan of Odysseus and a Communist, so there are a lot of philosophical tensions in his work)

    I'm not sure I get the anti-Marvel thing. 1 guy did all the Lord of the Rings & Hobbit (stretching Hobbit into an unfathomable 3 movies?) and The Godfather I-III so they had some continuity, but presuming you're not wedded to a director, you can either go for a Batman-like changing of styles, or a pattern to ensure look-and-feel across different episodes. I think David Lynch turned down some franchise film, which may or may not have been a good thing - I can't say Dune is my favorite flick, but it's more watchable than Jodorowsky's attempt at some animated thing.

    For a movie fan these Star Wars/Marvel/Spiderman phenomena can be disappointing, but considering they draw huge numbers of viewers, they're pleasing someone, so am I to complain? Ok, maybe could require a percent to go to more artsy films, but this is always the tradeoff - even Mozart & Shakespeare had to deal with the tradeoffs of popular street culture vs. elite & erudite. Occasionally someone takes a chance and broaches both.

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