The art of film is a wonderful thing. It shows us the beauty of life, the troubles of man, and can inspire us to be more than we are. The film medium is full of many different genres. For those of us who are want a good scare, you turn to horror. If you want to laugh, you watch a comedy. If you want to watch fun action and spectacle, you watch a Marvel movie. Film takes on many forms, and means different things to different people. The problem is when we decide that a curtain genre is no longer “film” and force our views on others.
This month the Marvel Cinematic Universe has come under fire from film legends Martin Scorsese (The Departed) and Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather Part I and II). Scorsese started this entire ordeal by saying: “They’re [Marvel films] taking over the theaters. I think they can have those films; it’s fine. It’s just that that shouldn’t become what our young people believe is cinema. It just shouldn’t.” Coppola followed it up by saying: “Martin was kind when he said it’s not cinema. He didn’t say it’s despicable, which I just say it is.” This has led to a debate on social media and in real life. Are Comic Book Movies truly cinema? What is cinema?
Now, Scorsese and Coppola aren’t wrong for what they believe. The MCU will likely never give us films like Taxi Driver or Apocalypse Now, but to say that they are despicable is when we have a problem. Film is one of the greatest art forms to ever exist. It’s diverse, it’s thought-provoking, and it’s something literally anyone can enjoy. We have crime dramas, space operas, romance, westerns, and animation. All are films and all bring a new demographic to the world of movies. What Coppola and Scorsese fail to realize is that comic book films are an entry point to the other genres.
Joker will likely turn people to the King of Comedy and Taxi Driver; while The Winter Soldier might get fans to watch more of Robert Redford’s films. Comic Book films are unique because they can have subgenres. Ant-Man is a heist film. Infinity War and Endgame are a two-part epic, The Winter Soldier is a thriller, and Spider-Man: Homecoming is a teen dramedy. To say that these films should stop taking over the theaters and that they are ruining this art form is insane.
Scorsese and Coppola, while being two of the greatest minds in movie history, seem to miss what makes movies special. This mindset, this notion that fans should only like a certain thing is going to kill the business. Instead of embracing all fans, and challenging them to try something new, we’re turning them away. Again, they are entitled to their opinion, and to a certain extent, they’re right. But they shouldn’t belittle film fans and even the film creators at Marvel.
Yes, the MCU can feel repetitive. Yes, they lack the deep meaning, and storytelling of some of the great films of yesteryear. But that’s the case for 80% of the movie industry. Instead of pushing away CBMs, we should be trying to get them to become something more. Christopher Nolan doesn’t strike me as an Ant-Man and the Wasp type of guy, but instead of belittling comic book films, he went on to make one of the greatest trilogies ever made. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that it stars Batman. Films like Logan, The Dark Knight, Infinity War, and Joker all push the CBM space forward.
Many fans, writers, and actors can like different forms of film/television. The great Steven Spielberg made Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, and Schindler’s List; while also getting a producer credit on Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise. Love what you love. If you don’t like something, that’s fine, you can even be vocal on why you don’t like it. That’s the only way we can make a change, but don’t attack others and claim that their art is an amusement park.
The Marvel films can coexist in the same realm as the rest of the film industry. I can love Avengers: Endgame, and also love The Irishman. That’s what being a true cinephile is all about. You can appreciate different types of movies and love them for what they are. A big blockbuster, an emotional indie, and chilling drama, a delightful musical; all respect the art that is cinema, and engage with audiences in different ways.