Scorsese’s Genius Is Unmatched But He Couldn’t Be More Wrong About Marvel

The director’s comments have split opinion.

Axelle Bauer-Griffin Getty / Marvel

Since Martin Scorsese controversially declared that Marvel movies are ‘not cinema’ just about everyone in Hollywood has had their say on his comments.

With as close to a flawless IMDb page as it comes, boasting films like Taxi Driver, Goodfellas and his latest masterpiece, The Irishman – if anyone has earned the right to voice his opinion, few are better qualified than Scorsese.

“I tried, you know?” the director told Empire when asked if he had seen Marvel’s movies. “But that’s not cinema.”

Robert De Niro in The Irishman (Netflix)

He continued: “Honestly, the closest I can think of them, as well made as they are, with actors doing the best they can under the circumstances, is theme parks. It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”

The Godfather director unsurprisingly took a similar route, though Francis Ford Coppola took his criticism to the next level.

“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.” He told journalists in Lyon.

Coppola continued: “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.”

Being a fan of just about everything Scorsese has produced, it’d be quite easy to take anything he says as gospel. However it feels hugely unfair to dismiss a whole era of cinema purely because of its box office dominance.

Some element of the criticism may ring true, Marvel films of course don’t imitate real life situations. Since when has there been set parameters on just what makes great cinema though?

What Marvel has managed to do over the last decade is create a cinematic universe that has offered escapism to millions across the world – and isn’t that one of the most important pillars of filmmaking?


If escapism can’t be one of the driving forces behind movies, then the whole industry would run the risk of becoming very boring, very quickly.

Just because a piece of film might not necessarily capture real-life situations, it by no means rules out any kind of human emotion for its viewers. Besides, for the majority of us the mafia stories that Scorsese is undoubtedly the best at conveying, hold no similarities either – but they’re still remarkable tales.

This is cinema we’re talking about – the one time where things don’t have to be about everyday situations. Yes, the emotionally-driven, relatable stories make for some of the best films in history but that doesn’t make everything else redundant.

I was lucky enough to get tickets to one of the advance screenings of The Irishman and haven’t stopped talking about it since. I also went to the midnight screening of Endgame and was blown away by that, just in a completely different way.

It doesn’t have to be a case of one of the other. This industry should breed endless creativity in whatever form it comes.

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