If you’ve been following the film news cycle in recent weeks, you’d know that a few legendary directors have been up in arms over superhero movies. This feud kicked back up with Martin Scorsese when he likened superhero movies more to theme parks than art. Now, following Scorsese doubling down on his remarks, acclaimed director Francis Ford Coppola has now jumped to his defense and called Marvel movies despicable.
Those are some rough words to hurl around about the superhero movie genre, and while Scorsese and Coppola’s arguments have their merits, there are other things their strong takes overlook. Here’s what Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and other nay-saying directors in Hollywood get wrong about superhero movies.
Superhero Movies Absolutely Convey Emotion
A large part of both men’s statements on superhero movies is that they lack emotion and don’t have anything within them that features, as Scorsese put it, “Human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.” The implication, though not explicitly stated, essentially means that superhero movies are mindless fun with not a lot to chew on afterwards.
This one doesn’t take long to disprove, as most people know that superhero movies can convey deep emotion. Whether it’s Billy Batson confronting his biological mother who doesn’t want to be in his life in Shazam!, or Tony creating the perfect life and then being forced to sacrifice it in Avengers: Endgame, there’s plenty of emotion in superhero movies. Are they jam-packed with emotional moments? Absolutely not, but very few movies are.
With that said, it’s not like Martin Scorsese would know about these emotional moments or meaningful arcs. He’s stopped watching most new films for a few years now and admitted he had given up on superhero movies as well. Scorsese sounds somewhat jaded by the commercialism of modern cinema, so it tracks that he’d be against superhero movies.
There’s More Art In Marvel’s Process Than Coppola Gives Credit
Francis Ford Coppola has been critical of superhero movies for quite a while, but Martin Scorsese just gave him the excuse to get back on the soap box. Coppola said in 2017 The Godfather wouldn’t have been made because it wasn’t a superhero movie, and that studios are only concerned with how many movies they can make in a series. It’s almost as if he forgot his own trilogy has two other movies.
Which makes it a bit baffling, because surely Francis Ford Coppola can attest to the art of adapting another pre-existing work into a movie. The difference between the two is Marvel is adapting more than the novels of Mario Puzo; it’s working with the collective visions of decades of authors and crafting stories for characters that ultimately go on to be used by other directors in a massive collaboration that takes extensive planning. Whether Coppola recognizes it or not is moot, the MCU and the process of creating it is art.
Is it art akin to what Francis Ford Coppola did with Apocalypse Now? The answer is it doesn’t have to be, and no one said that it was. To flat out deny the merits of a genre simply because of its commercial viability isn’t really fair, nor is judging a story that has the potential to continue on.
Filmmakers View Movies Differently Than The Masses
When Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese said they dislike superhero movies, their reasoning is rooted mainly in what they represent for the concept of cinema. That being the presumed mindlessness of superhero movies and the fact that Hollywood’s love of them may prevent more inventive non-superhero movies from reaching a general audience. There could be more reasons, but this is just based off their published thoughts.
Most people watching superhero movies right now aren’t award-winning directors with decades of experience in the field. We don’t enjoy movies the same way they do, and we certainly don’t have the experience they do that shapes our opinion of superhero movies. Many of us see these movies and know exactly what we’re getting into. It’s about escapism, watching an action-packed adventure unfold and having a good time at the movies.
I think the major mistake many are making in regards to these comments is not recognizing who they come from, and thinking their disagreeing is a reflection on themselves. Marvel fans (and their directors) shouldn’t be offended by Scorsese’s or Coppola’s comments. As mentioned earlier, they’re both people who don’t represent the usual moviegoer, and admittedly, don’t watch super hero movies. All the filmmaking experience in the world makes an argument pretty thin when you’re not even watching the thing you hate.
Superhero Movies Aren’t Hindering Innovative Movies
Going back to Francis Ford Coppola’s point that studios only green light superhero projects and that films like The Godfather wouldn’t get made today, it’s just simply not true. While Warner Bros. could be turning down some scripts because it has DC projects in development, Marvel is only green-lighting stuff within its superhero brand.
On top of that, the superhero genre is elevating the profile of several Hollywood directors who are making increasingly daring projects outside the genre. Thor: Ragnarok elevated Taika Waititi to a household name, and allowed a film like Jojo Rabbit to get made. There’s no way in hell a movie that features a happy-go-lucky Hitler gets that kind of attention or funding without Waititi’s contributions to the MCU.
Beyond that, we live in an era where filmmaking is about as accessible as its ever been. Entire movies can be shot on a cell phone, and Video On Demand and streaming services have ensured there are other options to get a movie out there that don’t necessarily mean wooing a major studio for a theatrical release. The ability to make these bold and innovative movies is all there, but it’s up to the public to seek them out and prioritize them, and maybe even for these legendary directors to promote them?
We’ve heard the opinions of several directors and actors on superhero movies as of late, but what do audiences think? Share your thoughts in the comments below and continue to stick with CinemaBlend for all the latest news happening in movies and television.