Recently, Martin Scorsese said that movies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe were like “theme parks”. More precisly he said: “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.” and add: “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.”. Francis Ford Coppola then added that those movies were “despicable” also adding: “Because we expect to learn something from cinema, we expect to gain something, some enlightenment, some knowledge, some inspiration. I don’t know that anyone gets anything out of seeing the same movie over and over again.”.
And all this really sounds like someone saying “it was better before” or “back in my time …” kind of a thing. This is always an interesting question to ask, but also and most of the time a sign that you have lost contact with the younger generation …. It is a bit like the classical musician telling you that rock is just garbage and noise (spoiler alert, you can still like both!).
First, do not get me wrong, they can both have their own opinion about the MCU. But what they are saying does not seem to match millions of people’s opinion, and that is the sad and bad part. When I hear that the MCU does not convey any emotional and psychological experience, I can say that it is not at all what I feel. I got emotional, I got attached to a character, sad if they disappear, happy to see their progress etc. The fact that the MCU is spread over 10 years is by itself an incredible cinematographic experience, merging characters from different movies, that’s what made the success of the MCU. A formula coming from the comic books, highly popular and definitely artistic. I also can’t see anyone trying to argue that Cinema can not use the work of literature to get better. As an example, Scorsese did not write The Irishman, he is director and producer of it, the story comes from a book, work of literature.
Another slightly annoying thing is that it mentions the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe but not a movie in particular. Scorsese even admits that he has not seen the movie(s?) but already made an opinion about it. I have not seen the movie Irishman, yes and my gut feeling is telling me that it will a similar experience than another gangster movie from the 80’s/’90s but I will wait to at least see the movie to make my conclusion about it. Some MCU are also not great, and others are good, it is hard to judge them all at once.
From Coppola’s statement, it seems that the problem is to see the same movie over and over, and that the MCU are not “smart” enough. That can be a fair point, but a great screenwriter, got roughly a very good movie every 5 years (when was the last great movie from Coppola? and as mentioned Scorsese did not write The Irishman). Hundreds of movies need to be out every year! You can’t expect all of them to be intellectual. MCU movies are really entertaining which is one way of making a movie.
My guess is that they are seeing the MCU a bit like a growing fast-food in comparison to good gastronomy. But they are two different things and they will co-exist. Sometimes I want something and another time I want something else. However, both Scorsese and Coppola’s comments are saying that Cinema should be in a certain way and not in the other, and that is where I am afraid because it means that they are not interested in looking in any other form of “arts” and even less to learn from them.
I would be curious to know what they think about Star Wars? Jurassic Park? Harry Potter? Because they are all some of the most successful movies in the cinema. Are they also “despicable” and “not what Cinema is”? is most of the Cinema not what the Cinema is?