Currently basking in rave reviews for his new mob movie “The Irishman”, Martin Scorsese continues to be engulfed in controversy over comments he made in a recent interview insisting that Marvel movies are “not cinema” and more akin to “theme parks.”
While numerous actors and directors have taken Scorsese to task for his dismissive assessment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, arguably the most popular film franchise in Hollywood history, one person who has not spoken out is Kevin Feige, chief creative officer of Marvel Studios and the man responsible for successfully shepherding some of pop culture’s most beloved characters from the pages of comic books to the screen.
Until now, that is, with Feige breaking his silence about Scorsese in a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter‘s “Awards Chatter” podcast.
“I think that’s not true. I think it’s unfortunate,” Feige says when asked about Scorsese’s opinion of superhero movies. “I think myself and everyone who works on these movies loves cinema, loves movies, loves going to the movies, loves to watch a communal experience in a movie theatre full of people.”
In fact, Feige believes that Scorsese’s assessment that Marvel’s movies aren’t “the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being” is flat-out wrong.
“We did ‘Civil War’. We had our two most popular characters get into a very serious theological and physical altercation,” Feige says. “We killed half of our characters at the end of a movie [‘Avengers: Infinity War’]. I think it’s fun for us to take our success and use it to take risks and go in different places.”
However, Feige is content to agree to disagree with Scorsese, insisting that cinema is ultimately subjective. “Everybody has a different definition of cinema,” he says. “Everybody has a different definition of art. Everybody has a different definition of risk,” says Feige. “Some people don’t think it’s cinema. Everybody is entitled to their opinion. Everyone is entitled to repeat that opinion. Everyone is entitled to write op-eds about that opinion, and I look forward to what will happen next. But in the meantime, we’re going to keep making movies.”
Feige also points to some upcoming Marvel projects that he believes are truly pushing the envelope, such as the upcoming Disney+ series “WandaVision”, which sets “Avengers” characters Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) within the trappings of a TV sitcom.
“It is unlike anything we’ve done before,” Feige declares. “It’s unlike anything this genre has done before. And yes, if you are turned off by the notion of a human having extra abilities, and that means everything in which that happens is lumped into the same category, then they might not be for you. But the truth is, these are all — like all great science-fiction stories — parables.”
Shortly after Feige’s comments, “Endgame” directors Joe and Anthony Russo weighed in.
Speaking to THR, they continued to support the films.
“Ultimately, we define cinema as a film that can bring people together to have a shared, emotional experience,” Joe said. “When we look at the box office [of] ‘Avengers: Endgame’, we don’t see that as a signifier of financial success, we see it as a signifier of emotional success. It’s a movie that had an unprecedented impact on audiences around the world in the way that they shared that narrative and the way that they experienced it. And the emotions they felt watching it.”
Joe then teased that they might not know much.
“But, at the end of the day, what do we know? We’re just two guys from Cleveland, Ohio, and ‘cinema’ is a New York word. In Cleveland, we call them movies,” he said.
Anthony added, “The other way to think about it, too, is nobody owns cinema. We don’t own cinema. You don’t own cinema. Scorsese doesn’t own cinema.”
You can listen to Feige’s interview in its entirety below: