Though the auteur director made his opinion known way back in the pre-COVID days of 2019, when his film The Irishman was competing for the spotlight with DC Films’ Joker, Martin Scorsese’s criticism of superhero movies continues to generate reactions.
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In his piece, Scorsese asserted that, while he recognizes that some elements of filmmaking are present in them, he believes Marvel films – and superhero movies in general – lack “revelation, mystery or genuine emotional danger.”
Said the legendary filmmaker, “Nothing is at risk.”
At the time, James Gunn was in the middle of making The Suicide Squad, but it was only a matter of time until the director shared his opinion on Scorsese’s criticisms of the same quirky blockbusters – like the newly released DC ensemble film and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy – which have been his trademark over the last decade.
That time came during his recent appearance on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, where Gunn defended his brand of cinema by calling Scorsese’s commentary “cynical” and accusing the veteran director of making said comments solely to seek attention and publicity for his own films.
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“It just seems [awfully] cynical that he would keep coming out against Marvel and then that’s the only thing that would get him press for his movie,” Gunn said.
“So then he just kept coming out against Marvel, so that he could get press for his movie,” he continued. “So, he’s creating his movie in the shadow of the Marvel films, and so he uses that to get attention for something that he wasn’t getting as much attention as he wanted for it.”
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That reads like some serious shade, so Gunn unsurprisingly took to Twitter after the episode went live to clarify that he is a fan and student of Scorsese’s movies with nothing but appreciation for the Goodfellas director’s work.
“For the record, Martin Scorsese is probably the world’s greatest living American filmmaker,” Gunn wrote. “I love & study his films & will continue to love & study his films.”
He further clarified, “I disagree with him solely on one point: That films based on comic books are innately not cinema, that’s all.”
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. 🙏 https://t.co/By9IBe8HAm
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) August 4, 2021
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In fact, Gunn recently admitted recently that he has his own problems with superhero movies – mainly that he finds modern entries in the genre “mostly boring” compared to those made earlier in the trend’s timeline.
“They’re mostly boring to me right now!” he said to SFX Magazine. “I loved them at the beginning and there are still people trying to do different things [with them], so it’s not a 100% rule, but a lot of them are boring.”
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While that may be a sign Scorsese has a point – or that the boom of comic book movies is waning – others have continued to defend the genre write large.
One of them is Aquaman’s Jason Momoa, who compared them to mythological epics that can have a message.
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“It’s all subjective. I try not to pick on anything,” he recently told The New York Times. “So, yeah, superhero movies are bubble gum, but they’re like Greek mythology: They have good and evil and heartbreaking moments.”
Momoa added, “I’m not someone who gets hired to play in a lot of cinema, but by being able to do a superhero movie, I can make a movie about something I really care about.”
There’s no settling this debate as it’s all a matter of taste, but the fact comic book IPs are still big business at the box office and on streaming is unquestionable.
What do you make of Gunn’s response to Scorsese’s criticisms? Let us know your thoughts on social media or in the comments down below!