Marvel moviesBy Tom Dougherty
Marvel movies are OK, but let’s not get carried away
Maybe we should bring up the ghost of Ingmar Bergman to ask him next. Of all the silly Twitter feuds today, the debate over whether Marvel movies are cinema ranks among the most misguided.
The whole thing started when Martin Scorsese, simply one of the greatest directors who ever lived, said Marvel movies were not cinema and were closer to amusement park rides than anything else.
Hell, he isn’t far off in my opinion. But the Marvel fanboys threw a fit, posting that Marvel movies clearly outperform Scorsese’s classics like Taxi Driver, Goodfellas and the rest at the box office.
Like popularity is how we rate art. If that’s the case, then are Marvel fans saying The Avengers: Endgame is the greatest movie of all time? That The Longest Day, a boring WII movie and the highest-grossing film of 1962, was better than Lawrence of Arabia because it sold more tickets?
Or that Disney’s The Jungle Book is clearly a better cinematic product than Bonnie & Clyde, The Graduate and In the Heat of the Night in 1967? A year that changed American cinema forever.
Only a moron would say so. (Pick any art genre and ask yourself if the most popular is the best.)
But there are plenty of morons out there who don’t even know what they’re talking about. What really seemed to get the Marvel fans steamed was Francis Coppola (The Godfather movies, Apocalypse Now) saying Marvel movies were “despicable.”
“If you like Marvel movies. That’s fine. Just don’t call them the best of cinema or equate them with the Westerns that defined American cinema for decades.”
Marvel movies are what they are, nothing more than that
My take? Hey, if you like Marvel movies, I don’t have a problem with that. But what Scorsese and Coppola are railing against is that those are the only movies Hollywood is making right now. Scorsese and other filmmakers (like the Coen brothers and Steven Soderbergh) can only receive funding from the likes of Netflix. Because the studios don’t want them. Which, hey, I’m glad the streaming service did. (Scorsese’s The Irishman is considered a new classic, and I loved the Coen’s The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.) Maybe that’s just the way the market plays out, but they have a right to their opinion.
What really got my goat, though, was some claiming Marvel movies are just like the Westerns of the 50s and 60s. Now, that’s simply ridiculous.
Many of the greatest American movies ever made were Westerns (The Searchers, Red River, The Wild Bunch, a list could go on and one), and they didn’t serve some Marvel-like universe. While certainly there were terrible Westerns, the best tackled difficult subjects like racism, the struggle of building of communities and how to live with a moral code in a world without morals. In fact, in many cases, the protagonists of Westerns were not the best people. They weren’t superheroes. Many were much tougher minded than today’s Marvel movies.
They didn’t end with essentially a teaser to the next film, like most Marvel movies today. In fact, I’m not a fan of them because they are basically 2-hour trailers for the next movie.
If you like Marvel movies. That’s fine. Just don’t call them the best of cinema or equate them with the Westerns that defined American cinema for decades.
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