Francis Ford Coppola Clarifies Comments After Calling Marvel Movies ‘Despicable’

Coppola said that Marvel movies leave "little for more daring productions," and reduce diversity.

Francis Ford Coppola receives the Lumiere Award during Lumiere Film Festival.

Image via Getty/Nicolas Liponne

Francis Ford Coppola receives the Lumiere Award during Lumiere Film Festival.

When Francis Ford Coppola hopped on the wave of elder statesmen directors, led by Martin Scorsese, who criticized the existence of Marvel films, his remarks were especially salient since he said that he associates the word "despicable" with the MCU. 

"When Martin Scorsese says that the Marvel pictures are not cinema, he's right because we expect to learn something from cinema, we expect to gain something, some enlightenment, some knowledge, some inspiration," Coppola said. "I don't know that anyone gets anything out of seeing the same movie over and over again.... Martin was kind when he said it's not cinema. He didn't say it's despicable, which I just say it is."

While many of Coppola's peers were expectedly respectful in their response to his critique, the filmmaker's "despicable" designation of Marvel films drew an understandably impassioned reaction from Disney CEO Bob Iger, who said that he typically linked that word with "someone who committed mass murder." 

In a new interview with Deadline, Coppola is clarifying his critique of the Marvel movies, claiming that his issue lies with the "idea of franchises" which are repeatedly made the same way for the sole purpose of "financial gain." 

"Personally I don’t like the idea of franchises, the notion that you can keep repeating what is essentially the same movie for financial gain — in other words, what is a formulaic approach," Coppola explained. "I feel that approach is taken to reduce the economic risk of movies, and I feel the 'risk factor' is an element that makes movies sometimes be great. Also, the formulaic film draws most available resources to them, leaving little for more daring productions, reducing diversity." 

"In some ways I think the cinema is like food; certainly you can add things to make it tempting, tasty and enjoyable but it must also be nutritious to qualify as real food," he continued. 

What Coppola is basically trying to say that the MCU has been playing it safe by churning out "formulaic films" that have the same structure and elements. Marvel is guilty of this approach, but then again, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? However, the domino effect of Marvel's financial success is that other studios will try to tap into that same well by greenlighting popular IP in an effort to make as much money as possible, as opposed to taking on more niche projects that are deemed a risky investment.  

Coppola knows that he will never direct a superhero film, but he also wants his own studio-backed film in theaters. But since his project will never be seen as something that can pull in upwards of $1 billion at the box office, like a Marvel film, his opportunity to create cinema with significant financial support in the future gets thrown into jeopardy.  

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