Cinemas 'Shouldn't Be Invaded' By Marvel Movies: Martin Scorsese Fuels MCU Feud

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If you were waiting for Martin Scorsese to apologize for comparing Marvel movies to theme parks as opposed to real cinema, grab a snack. It'll be a while. He just repeated his comments at a film festival panel, making a plea for movie theaters to make space for real "narrative films":

The value of a film that’s like a theme park film, for example, the Marvel type pictures where the theaters become amusement parks, that’s a different experience. As I was saying earlier, it's not cinema, it’s something else. Whether you go for that or not, it is something else and we shouldn’t be invaded by it. And so that’s a big issue, and we need the theater owners to step up for that to allow theaters to show films that are narrative films.

Martin Scorsese made his latest comments during a panel on the future of cinema at the London Film Festival (via BFI), which screened his upcoming movie The Irishman.

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Here's what the director previously said about Marvel movies -- or "Marvel type" movies, since "Marvel" is becoming shorthand for superhero movies, like "Kleenex" is for all tissue brands:

I don’t see them. I tried, you know? But that’s not cinema. 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.

You could certainly argue with that take, and plenty of Marvel fans definitely did. Marvel Cinematic Universe's James Gunn was saddened by Martin Scorsese's take. Samuel L. Jackson also made his own counter-argument. Robert Downey Jr. just respected Scorsese's opinion. (Maybe he's leaving the door open to be cast in a future Scorsese film.)

The idea that movie theaters should leave room for more than just Marvel or other superhero movies? Absolutely! It's nothing new, though, for a multiplex to pack theaters with the latest blockbuster action movie. Theaters exist to make money, and those are the movies a majority of people are willing to get out and see week after week. The market dictates the space. Marvel didn't invent that wheel, it's just riding it very, very well.

However, giving thousands of screens to the still-popular Downton Abbey movie, for example, showed that fans are indeed willing to turn out for more than just comic book movies. It was a risk to give a quiet lower-budget drama big theatrical space, and the risk paid off. (It helped that it had its own built-in brand from TV, but someone like Martin Scorsese has his own built-in brand too.)

People want to watch good stories -- "narrative films," as Martin Scorsese might call them. As someone who lives in the middle of nowhere USA, I have to drive hours to find an independent movie theater. However, I have Netflix right on my TV, so I can watch a movie like Roma and -- pretty soon -- Martin Scorsese's The Irishman more easily from home.

The Irishman is scheduled for a limited theatrical release on November 1 before it arrives on Netflix on November 27. The Irishman debuted to a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and it's still there after 62 reviews.

If I were Martin Scorsese, I might be a little frustrated that a film that's already getting such acclaim will only get a limited theatrical release before arriving on Netflix. He's an old school auteur in the best way, so having a movie show at the local movie theater is a big deal. But times have changed, and having a movie on Netflix is part of that evolution. It doesn't have to be a bad thing. It just means someone like me will be able to actually see The Irishman this year instead of maybe waiting until it showed up later on HBO, or having to buy it on DVD.

Martin Scorsese isn't the only one ruffling MCU feathers -- remember when Joker's Marc Maron insulted superhero films and then blasted outraged Marvel fans? And since Avengers: Endgame is the new #1 movie of all time, it's going to take some potshots. Heavy is the head that wears the crown, and Marvel rules all these days. There were three $1 billion+ MCU movies in 2019, and the MCU slate just keeps going and going, with four MCU titles coming in 2021. Brace yourself, Marty!

Gina Carbone

Gina grew up in Massachusetts and California in her own version of The Parent Trap. She went to three different middle schools, four high schools, and three universities -- including half a year in Perth, Western Australia. She currently lives in a small town in Maine, the kind Stephen King regularly sets terrible things in, so this may be the last you hear from her.