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Legendary director Martin Scorsese caused quite the kerfuffle recently when in an interview he said that he doesn’t consider Marvel movies, the preeminent popular films of our time, to be cinema. There were a lot of different reactions to his comments, including from Marvel Cinematic Universe director James Gunn, who was saddened that one of his favorite filmmakers judged his art in that way. Now the face of the MCU himself, actor Robert Downey Jr. has responded to Martin Scorsese’s comments about superhero movies. Robert Downey Jr. said:
It's his opinion. I mean it plays in theaters. I appreciate his opinion because I think it's like anything. We need all of the different perspectives so we can come to center and move on.
As you might expect, Robert Downey Jr. doesn’t feel insulted and isn’t getting all riled up over Martin Scorsese’s comments. Instead he has a very chill, laissez-faire attitude about the whole thing. In his mind, Martin Scorsese, like anyone else, is entitled to his opinion and that extends to Marvel and superhero movies. Robert Downey Jr. actually appreciates that Martin Scorsese has a different perspective on the issue.
The actor believes that we as a society need different ideas and opinions. In his view, that diversity of opinion is a good thing because it allows us to debate and find common ground and move forward. If everyone thought the same thing or in this case, if everyone thought superhero movies were the best, highest form of cinema, that wouldn’t be a good thing.
That said, while Robert Downey Jr. appreciates Martin Scorsese’s opinion and his right to have it, that doesn’t mean he agrees with him. As Robert Downey Jr. said on The Howard Stern Show, Marvel movies play in theaters. So by that very fact superhero movies qualify as cinema. Later in his discussion, the actor likens Martin Scorsese’s comments to saying that Howard Stern isn’t radio, a statement that he says, makes no sense.
Howard Stern and Robert Downey Jr. speculated a little bit about why Martin Scorsese might have said what he said, with the actor musing on the ubiquity of modern genre movies. He said:
When you come in like a stomping beast and you eliminate the competition in such a demonstrative way, it’s phenomenal.
Robert Downey Jr. made it clear that he in no way does he think that Martin Scorsese is jealous of superhero movies, he’s Martin Scorsese after all, he just got $170 million to make a 3+ hour crime epic for Netflix. But it is undeniable that the success of the genre has had an impact on the industry and what movies get made.
So perhaps Martin Scorsese takes issue with these kinds of films because fewer of the kinds of original movies he grew up with and that he likes to make are getting made these days in a superhero driven marketplace. That would be an understandable position, even if he isn’t giving superhero movies a fair shake.
While I might strongly disagree with Martin Scorsese’s seemingly uninformed opinion on what superhero movies are and are not and his narrow definition of what constitutes cinema, Robert Downey Jr. is right, it is just his opinion, it’s not an edict. Martin Scorsese’s opinion won’t stop superhero movies from being made. Hell, even Bob Iger couldn’t really accomplish that. Only the moviegoing public could do that.
Robert Downey Jr. may not be done with superhero movies himself. The actor may yet reprise his role as Tony Stark if rumors that he will appear in Black Widow prove true. Surprisingly, Disney is not campaigning for Robert Downey Jr. to receive an Oscar nomination for his role in Avengers: Endgame, although he seems fine with it.
Check out our 2020 Release Schedule to see when Black Widow and all the biggest movies hit theaters next year.