It’s been nearly two years since Martin Scorsese originally compared the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies to “theme parks,” saying to Vulture: “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.” He has since written an op-ed for The New York Times which clarified the comments, but the saga of this battle between filmmakers who have worked on these comic book movies and Martin Scorsese continues to be ignited every few months.
James Gunn has worked on a number of comic book movies. He directed “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2,” and was tapped to return for the finale of the trilogy, set for release in 2023, along with “The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special,” which will debut in 2022. While doing press for his upcoming film, “The Suicide Squad,” Gunn said: “It just seems awfully cynical that he kept coming out against Marvel, and that’s the only thing that would get him press for his movie, so then he just kept coming out against Marvel so that he could get press for his movie.” It is likely that that movie Gunn is referencing is Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” which was the director’s debut directing for a streaming platform (Netflix_.
In fairness, Gunn also credited the “Taxi Driver” director, saying “He’s one of the greatest filmmakers who’s ever existed. I love his movies. I can watch his movies with no problem. And he said a lot of things that I agree with. There is a lot of things that are true about what he said. There are a lot of heartless, soulless spectacle films out there that don’t reflect what should be happening.”
While these quotes garnered headlines all day, Gunn eventually took to Twitter saying: “Also for the record, Martin Scorsese is probably the world’s greatest living American filmmaker. I love & study his films & will continue to love & study his films. I disagree with him solely on one point: That films based on comic books are innately not cinema, that’s all.”
This debate will likely never die. Scorsese is already filming his next film, “Killers of the Flower Moon,” which will debut on Apple TV+ next year. It will be interesting to see whether or not he makes another Marvel comment to simply “get press” for his movie. Earlier this summer, Disney opened the “Avengers Campus” in California; take that as you will.