James Cameron, the director of Avatar: The Way of Water, appeared to take a shot at Marvel’s trademark snark while discussing his latest film.
Speaking to TheWrap, Cameron revealed that executives at 20th Century Fox attempted to cut a number of flying scenes from the first Avatar film, but he rebuffed them.
Cameron said, “We got into a big conflict with the studio brass at Fox on the first film because they kept saying stuff like, ‘Well you can cut out all that flying stuff, we don’t need all that. That doesn’t advance the plot.’ I’m like, ‘You’re absolutely correct, it doesn’t advance the plot. It’s doing something completely else. It’s allowing people to enjoy the moment.’”
He then transitioned to what was seemingly a knock at Marvel Studios, “People forget to put beauty into a film. There’s a lot of snark, there’s a lot of sarcasm, there’s a lot of cutesy jokes in movies. There’s a lot of people playing things off as if they’re super cool and therefore diluting the sense of stakes, the sense of jeopardy.”
In comparison to this approach, Cameron says, “I go straight at just being earnest. If there’s jeopardy, it’s real. People could die. And if you like what you see, let’s just hang out for a bit. Let’s not rush through this because of artificial concepts like ‘plot.’ It sounds dumb but it works.”
Cameron gets it pic.twitter.com/dqPfSryt5O
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At another point in the interview, Cameron referred to the Na’vi saying, “These are real people. They may be nine feet tall and blue with cattails. They are real people. They feel real. The problems that they’re facing are real.”
“They’re not extraordinary problems. They’re not going up against some guy that’s trying to conquer the galaxy. They have real problems,” he added.
Cameron then hedged, “Now, I’m not dissing superhero movies, I love them. They’re our modern myths and legends. They’re the Greek gods fighting. We love all that stuff, but that’s that’s not the movie I wanted to make.”
Cameron is no stranger to criticizing superhero films especially of the Marvel variety. Back in 2018, Cameron told IndieWire, “I’m hoping we’ll start getting ‘Avenger’ fatigue here pretty soon.”
He added, “Not that I don’t love the movies. It’s just, come on guys, there are other stories to tell besides hyper-gonadal males without families doing death-defying things for two hours and wrecking cities in the process. It’s like, oy!”
In 2021, he also claimed Marvel films are not epic. Speaking with Dune director Denis Villenueve as part of Variety’s Directors on Directors series, Cameron remarked that Dune felt epic to him before explaining what he meant.
Cameron said, “The thing that strikes me about ‘Dune’ is that it’s truly epic.” He then explained what he meant, “When I use the word ‘epic,’ I’m using it in a very specific way, meaning like a David Lean film, or to a very large extent like the Lord of the Rings films.”
“But when I think of films that have epic events in them, like let’s say a Marvel Universe film where whole cities get destroyed and so on, they don’t feel epic to me,” he asserted. “You seem to have the discipline, the vocabulary, of actual epic filmmaking, that kind of grand proscenium frame that’s just presented and takes its time with the music and so on.”
While Cameron isn’t afraid to criticize the Marvel way of filmmaking, that criticism doesn’t seem to be reaching the ears of anyone at Marvel Studios. A recent rumor indicates that Marvel Studios has undertaken reshoots in their upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantamania film to inject more of the cheap laughs they’ve become known for.
YouTuber Andre Einherjar of Midnight’s Edge reports, “For all its virtues the Marvel executives did allegedly have one problem with the cut Peyton Reed delivered. Apparently, it deviated too much from the Marvel formula! That is to say, it had a compelling story and narrative structure that would keep fans engaged, but what it apparently didn’t have, was enough jokes, laughs and trademark Marvel lightheartedness.”
He continues, “That then, is what the reshoots reportedly were aimed at doing – add jokes and cheap laughs into a by default serious movie with heavy themes in order to make it more lighthearted and fun for the masses.”
What do you make of Cameron’s criticism of Marvel’s ow-trademark snark and cutesy jokes?