It all started last month when the legendary director did an interview with Empire in which he said Marvel movies weren't cinema. "I tried, you know? But that’s not cinema," Scorsese said at the time. "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."
Martin Scorsese is one of my 5 favorite living filmmakers. I was outraged when people picketed The Last Temptation of Christ without having seen the film. I’m saddened that he’s now judging my films in the same way. https://t.co/hzHp8x4Aj8— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) October 4, 2019
"So, you might ask, what’s my problem? Why not just let superhero films and other franchise films be? The reason is simple," Scorsese wrote in the NYT. "In many places around this country and around the world, franchise films are now your primary choice if you want to see something on the big screen. It’s a perilous time in film exhibition, and there are fewer independent theaters than ever. The equation has flipped and streaming has become the primary delivery system. Still, I don’t know a single filmmaker who doesn’t want to design films for the big screen, to be projected before audiences in theaters."
Earlier in the op-ed, Scorsese pointed to "revelation" as being a core tenet of cinema. He also went on to name directors like Ingmar Bergman, Jean-Luc Godard, and Don Siegel.
"For me, for the filmmakers I came to love and respect, for my friends who started making movies around the same time that I did, cinema was about revelation — aesthetic, emotional and spiritual revelation. It was about characters — the complexity of people and their contradictory and sometimes paradoxical natures, the way they can hurt one another and love one another and suddenly come face to face with themselves," Scorsese wrote. "It was about confronting the unexpected on the screen and in the life it dramatized and interpreted, and enlarging the sense of what was possible in the art form."
It's not the first time Scorsese has revisited his criticism of the MCU. He addressed it last month while presenting his new film The Irishman at the Rome Film Fest. "But right now the theaters seem to be mainly supporting the theme park, amusement park, comic book films," he said. "They're 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."
Head over to the New York Times to read Scorsese's piece in full.