This is just a conversation that will not end. Ever since Martin Scorsese claimed that superhero films aren’t cinema, everyone has shared their opinions on the matter. Scorsese even doubled down at one point in time, while Francis Ford Coppola echoed his sentiments.
However, there are those who have defended superhero films, like James Gunn, Kevin Smith, and Jon Favreau. Even Disney CEO Bob Iger spoke out against Scorsese’s comments. But one person we had yet to hear from is Marvel Entertainment’s Chief Creative Officer, Kevin Feige. The man who has been a part of the studio since the very beginning is finally sharing his thoughts about Scorsese’s opinions on Marvel films. Naturally, he disagreed and thinks that it is “unfortunate” that Scorsese, who has been behind films like Goodfellas, Casino, and The Irishman, feels that way about their films.
Speaking to THR, Feige said:
“I think myself and everyone who works on these movies loves cinema, loves movies, loves going to the movies, loves to watch a communal experience in a movie theater full of people.”
Again, it all comes down to how you feel about these films. And perhaps it is a generational thing. Whatever the case may be, there is an audience for all sorts of films in all kinds of genres. And you can like superhero films and like gangster films. Regardless, if it brings you to a movie theater, it is a cinematic experience.
Scorsese doubled down on his original comments saying in a New York Times piece that superhero films had no stakes:
“What’s not there is revelation, mystery or genuine emotional danger. Nothing is at risk. The pictures are made to satisfy a specific set of demands, and they are designed as variations on a finite number of themes.”
There is a certain extent to that for some Marvel Studio films, however. In the larger grand scheme of things, they were all intricate pieces that lead up to event films like Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. The former also brought in a sense of emotional danger by killing off half of its roster, only to resurrect them a year later in Avengers: Endgame.
But looking at some of the individual films, there are some genuine surprises like the reveal that H.Y.D.R.A. had infiltrated S.H.E.I.L.D. in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Also, Ant-Man played up the heist genre. Then there was Captain America: Civil War, which had our favorite heroes facing off against each other because of ideological differences.
Here’s more of what Feige said to THR:
“We did Civil War. We had our two most popular characters get into a very serious theological and physical altercation. We killed half of our characters at the end of a movie [Avengers: Infinity War]. I think it’s fun for us to take our success and use it to take risks and go in different places.”
And in terms of risk, Feige also talked about how Chloe Zhao’s The Eternals may be one of Marvel Studios’ biggest risks to date because it is based on a property that people know very little about:
“It is a very big movie. It is a very expensive movie. And we are making it because we believe in [Zhao’s] vision and we believe in what those characters can do and we believe we need to continue to grow and evolve and change and push our genre forward. That’s a risk if I’ve ever heard one.”
The film, which will be shot in the Canary Islands, will feature a large ensemble cast that includes Angelina Jolie, Kumail Nanjiani, Richard Madden, Ma Dong-seok (aka Don Lee), Lauren Ridloff, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayek, and Lia McHugh, along with Barry Keoghan, Gemma Chan, and Kit Harington.
So everyone is going to have their opinions on what is and what isn’t cinema. And we have to stress that we should not let anyone, no matter how great they are or what sort of filmmaking accolades they have, determine what is and what isn’t a film. Feige says that art is subjective. So if you believe that Marvel Studio films aren’t cinema, that’s fine. Or if you believe they are, that’s fine too. In the end, it is what brings you to the theater that makes for a cinematic experience.
Now, can we stop talking about this and focus on which of our favorite films should be in our top ten and win some major awards?