Martin Scorsese Doubles Down on Critical Marvel Remarks: 'Nothing Is at Risk'

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Martin Scorsese is standing by his statements on blockbuster Marvel films, while also defending the artistry of filmmaking.

On Monday, an op-ed written by the acclaimed director was released by The New York Times in which he explains his previous comments that superhero films are "not cinema," stating that multiplexes are stocked with movies that are "market-researched, audience-tested, vetted, modified, revetted and remodified until they're ready for consumption."

Scorsese writes that, for those moviegoers who saw his comments as "evidence of hatred for Marvel on my part… there's nothing I can do to stand in the way."

He goes on to discuss why he shared his opinion on the state of the theater-going experience, arguing that superhero and franchise films are making it harder and harder for promising filmmakers to get their projects seen in theaters.

"So, you might ask, what's my problem? Why not just let superhero films and other franchise films be? The reason is simple. In many places around this country and around the world, franchise films are now your primary choice if you want to see something on the big screen," he wrote. "It's a perilous time in film exhibition, and there are fewer independent theaters than ever. The equation has flipped and streaming has become the primary delivery system. Still, I don't know a single filmmaker who doesn't want to design films for the big screen, to be projected before audiences in theaters."

In the op-ed, Scorsese also shares his respect for the talent involved in MCU projects and other tentpoles, admitting that the sheer appeal could be a matter of timing.

"Many franchise films are made by people of considerable talent and artistry. You can see it on the screen," the 76-year-old Academy Award winner writes. "The fact that the films themselves don't interest me is a matter of personal taste and temperament. 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 later writes: "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."

Scorsese also touches upon what first drew him to film and filmmaking in the first place, the craft and the compelling questions movies present, which he argues is at stake as the medium evolves. 

"For me, for the filmmakers I came to love and respect, for my friends who started making movies around the same time that I did, cinema was about revelation - aesthetic, emotional and spiritual revelation," Scorsese writes. "It was about characters -- the complexity of people and their contradictory and sometimes paradoxical natures, the way they can hurt one another and love one another and suddenly come face to face with themselves."

"For anyone who dreams of making movies or who is just starting out, the situation at this moment is brutal and inhospitable to art," he concludes. "And the act of simply writing those words fills me with terrible sadness."

Scorsese's op-ed echoes comments he made to ET while promoting his new Netflix film, The Irishman, in October.

"Well, look, the point is, in terms of this film, Netflix, theaters, what I'm talking about really are films that are made," he began at the film's premiere. "Let's say a family wants to go to an amusement park, that's a good thing, you know… They're a new art form. It's something different from films that are shown normally in theaters, that's all."

"Cinema now is changing. We have so many venues, there are so many ways to make films. So enjoyable," Scorsese added. "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, just don't, in terms of theaters."

Scorsese isn't the only veteran filmmaker in recent days to voice their criticism of superhero films. When asked about the controversy, fellow Oscar winner Francis Ford Coppola called the films "despicable," via Yahoo! News.

The day before Scorsese's op-ed was released, MCU star Mark Ruffalo addressed the heated debate at the Hollywood Film Awards on Sunday, where he defended Marvel's record-shattering creations and even nodded to Scorsese's work as partial inspiration.

"What really speaks to people about these movies, I think, is the heart and humanity of characters," Ruffalo told the crowd at the awards show. "That's what makes Avengers: Endgame so powerful to witness -- these characters that care about and reckon with the world around them... to watch them struggle and survive and sometimes even say goodbye. That's what makes it cinema."

Backstage, Ruffalo told ET: "I've worked with Marty. I love Marty. I hope he gets to see the film one day because so many of us as filmmakers have really actually stolen from him and learned so much from him. I think if he sees it, he'll see what a kind of homage it is to the cinema that he's created in the past."


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