Well the gloves have come off ever since Oscar-winning filmmaker Martin Scorsese said Marvel movies are “not cinema” during an interview with Empire magazine. 

“I don’t see them. I tried, you know? But that’s not cinema,” the Mean Streets director told the mag. “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 said.

Indeed, Scorsese is widely regarded as one of the most renowned and influential filmmakers in cinematic history. His career spans five decades and his work includes many celluloid masterpieces including Raging Bull, Goodfellas, The Aviator, The Departed, Hugo, The Wolf of Wall Street, and most recently The Irishman. He’s won an Academy Award, Emmy Awards, Golden Globes and is a recipient of the AFI Life Achievement Award.

In response to Scorsese’s criticism of superhero movies, filmmakers and actors alike have come forward to take issue with his contentions. Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn, who firmly believes that one must actually watch a film before being able to fairly judge it, tweeted, “Martin Scorsese is one of my 5 favorite living filmmakers. I was outraged when people picketed ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’ without having seen the film. I’m saddened that [Scorsese] is now judging my films contributions to cinema, and can’t wait to see ‘The Irishman.’”

Screenwriter C. Robert Cargill tweeted, “When Scott [Derrickson] and I were making ‘Doctor Strange,’ the vast majority of Marvel’s notes were about deepening character, strengthening the story, and asking us if we could ‘make it weirder.’ Anyone who thinks Marvel is only trying to make theme park rides is being unjust and cynical.” 

But those defending the Marvel billion-dollar franchise soon had to contend with committed Scorsese fans who revere the director as the highest order of filmmaker, if not a cinematic god. One commenter insisted, “Scorsese is 100% right. The MCU films are soulless, childish comedies, with poor writing and even less inspiring characters, with absolutely no life goals.” Even some serious Marvel fans felt compelled to defend Scorsese, admitting the limitations of superhero movies. 

On the other hand, another commenter shared, “I’m a combat vet who was literally triggered by the end of ‘Infinity War’ because of Tom Holland’s performance. That kid caught that moment perfectly and he improvised it. Know how many Scorsese flicks messed me up for four months and increased my therapy? Zero. Know how many Scorsese flicks I cried at? Zero. So Martin, thanks for you contribution to film, but stop being snobby.”

The actress who portrays Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy chimed in too telling The Hollywood Reporter that Marvel films are “absolutely” considered cinema . She defended director James Gunn, saying, “He injects so much of his own personality, his sense of humor … that’s a very big representation of who he is as a person and therefore it’s very cinematic. He’s an artist.”

Samuel L. Jackson, who starred as Nick Fury in the Iron Man franchise and is a longtime comic fan, reacted to Scorsese’s comments saying, “It’s kind of like saying Bugs Bunny ain’t funny. Films are films. You know, everybody doesn’t like [Scorsese’s] stuff either. I mean, we happen to, but everybody doesn’t.”

What do you think? Is Scorsese onto something when he lowers Marvel movies to theme park status and refers to them as uncinematic? Or do you prefer Marvel movies to The Color of Money or The Last Temptation of Christ any day of the week?

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