Martin Scorsese threw fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe into a tizzy recently when he said that the films of Marvel Studios and other superhero movies alike were not what he considered cinema. Instead, he equated them to theme park rides and even took it a step further by saying movie theaters needed to support what he called “narrative films” instead of superhero movies. At the same time, he did acknowledge the hard work that goes into them, though he reaffirmed his belief that they are not truly cinema. But director Francis Ford Coppola took it a step further.
While speaking to journalists in Lyon, France after accepting the Prix Lumiere award for his overall contributions to cinema throughout his career, Coppola was asked about Martin Scorsese’s comments, and The Godfather saga fiilmmaker did not hold back when throwing shade at Marvel movies, reiterating again that they “are not cinema” but also adding that they are “despicable.” Find out the rest of the Francis Ford Coppola Marvel movie criticism below.
Yahoo News brought our attention to Coppola’s commentary, and here’s what the director had to say:
“When Martin Scorsese says that the Marvel pictures are not cinema, he’s right 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. Martin was kind when he said it’s not cinema. He didn’t say it’s despicable, which I just say it is.”
There’s a lot to unpack here.
First, let’s just address the fact that Francis Ford Coppola is a filmmaking legend. As the director of masterpieces like The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now, and The Conversation, he’s proven that he’s a master storyteller. Furthermore, not only has he earned the right to criticize film, but this is his opinion. Nothing Coppola says should change the way someone feel about Marvel movies.
Secondly, it should be pointed out that although Francis Ford Coppola is one of the best filmmakers of the 20th century, he’s yet to direct anything in the 21st century that is remotely relevant or remarkable. His last good movie was arguably The Rainmaker in 1997 or Bram Stoker’s Dracula before that in 1992 (though I’ll admit that I have a childhood nostalgic soft spot for the critically panned Jack in 1996). That doesn’t take away from his importance in the grand scheme of cinema, but it’s clear that he’s not exactly at the height of the filmmaking prowess that he used to be.
Along with that, the guy turned 70 years old this year, and when people reach that age, they’re not too keen on other people playing in their yard. And when you consider the fact that Coppola probably doesn’t have the easiest time rounding up money for his movies while Marvel Studios is able to churn out three movies a year, that probably doesn’t rub him the right way.
UPDATE: It seems like Francis Ford Coppola is pretty grumpy about Pixar Animation movies too:
No one should be deeming one genre or medium more or less worthy of being called “cinema”.
I’ve met Coppola twice, and both times he acted kind of dismissively towards the films we’d made at Pixar. Really bummed me out, so I can imagine how all the Marvel filmmakers feel. https://t.co/o1xKggJrbH
— Lee Unkrich (@leeunkrich) October 20, 2019
It seems rather rude to be dismissive of other filmmakers, especially when they’ve proven to make quality movies. However, none of this makes him right or wrong. Again, this is merely his opinion. I’ll concede that there is some credence to him criticizing the fact that all Marvel Studios movies feel the same, largely thanks to the unified style that Kevin Feige has pushed for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But at the same time, to say that these movies don’t provide enlightenment, knowledge or inspiration to people is simply false.
Not everyone is moved by the kind of epic, sprawling dramas that Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese make. And some of those people find something meaningful to latch onto in the movies of Marvel Cinematic Universe. Adults and children alike genuinely love these characters. That’s why tears streamed down their faces when Tony Stark died in Avengers: Endgame. That’s why Coppola himself found something powerful in Black Panther. Marvel movies provide a diverse slate of superheroes for kids of every ethnic background to look up to. They give people heroes who are always trying to be better. And that’s only going to increase as time goes on.
To disregard these movies as simply despicable feels shortsighted and bitter. Coppola can say whatever he likes about whatever movie he wants. But he doesn’t have the final word on what constitutes cinema or what certain movies mean to you. And don’t forget that Francis Ford Coppola directed Captain EO, a Michael Jackson-led sci-fi short film that was shown at Disney theme parks from 1986 through 1996. So we’ve all done things that can be called despicable.
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