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Dune and Sicario director Denis Villeneuve says Marvel movies are “cut and paste” offerings which have essentially turned audiences “into zombies.”

Ahead of the long-awaited release of Dune, the French-Canadian director offered his thoughts on the current state of the film industry and suggested there’s room for blockbusters to be more artistic. 

“I have never felt like a loss or an impediment to have a generous budget to do what I wanted to do,” said Villeneuve in a conversation with El Mundo, via the Direct. “Who said that a movie on a big budget can’t be artistically relevant at the same time? I am currently thinking of people like Christopher Nolan or Alfonso Cuarón.”

Villeneuve has made a name for himself with a series of stylish thrillers and high-concept sci-fi dramas, ranging from 2013’s Prisoners to 2016’s Arrival. Outside of 2017’s Blade Runner 2049, which had an estimated budget between $150-185 million, Dune is his biggest production to date.

From there, the interviewer brought up Martin Scorsese’s remarks on Marvel films. In 2019, the director behind The Irishman said offerings from the MCU are “not cinema,” comparing them to “theme parks.”

Villeneuve went on: “Perhaps the problem is that we are in front of too many Marvel movies that are nothing more than a ‘cut and paste’ of others. Perhaps these types of movies have turned us into zombies a bit. … But big and expensive movies of great value, there are many today. I don’t feel capable of being pessimistic at all.”

The 53-year-old made similar comments in an interview with French outlet Premiere, suggesting the Marvel Cinematic Universe films were “made from the same mold.” He added, “Some filmmakers can add a little color to it, but they’re all cast in the same factory. It doesn’t take anything away from the movies, but they are formatted.” 

Despite his criticism, a good majority of the actors in Dune have appeared in Marvel properties in the past or are scheduled to make appearances in the future. Oscar Isaac, for one, is set to star in Marvel’s Moon Knight series on Disney+, while Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsård, Dave Bautista, and Zendaya have all shown up in multiple Marvel movies each.

Dune, which is the second feature film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel of the same name, premieres in theaters and on HBO Max on Oct. 22.