Marvel, for once in a great while, doesn't have any new movies at the theater, having wrapped the Infinity Saga with Spiderman: Far From Home in July. But as the world waits for Marvel's fourth phase to start with next year's Black Widow, Hollywood's old guard is dragging the Marvel Cinematic Universe back into the spotlight for no real reason other than to talk about how much they despise it.
It started earlier this month when Martin Scorsese trashed the Marvel movies in an interview with Empire magazine. "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," Scorsese said. His comments spurred backlash from directors including Taika Waititi and Kevin Smith, who compared Marvel's flashiness to Scorsese's own The Last Temptation of Christ.
Francis Ford Coppola followed suit this weekend, backing up Scorsese's comments at the Lumière Film Festival. "When Martin Scorsese says that 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. 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," Coppola said.
Coppola and Scorsese's stances on the MCU should have been pretty obvious—was anyone actually expecting Scorsese to ever direct a Marvel movie in the first place?—but the question this has all raised, of course, is what constitutes "real" cinema. Cue days of tiring Twitter discourse as "film" people and Marvel fans make jabs at each other to try to prove that their movie interests are mutually exclusive. Everyone's pretentious freshman year film major ex is literally shaking right now. Coppola's supporters claim the director's acclaimed filmography (The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, for example) makes him qualified to make his assessment, while people more sympathetic to Marvel chalk it up to Scorsese and Coppola simply being "old, out-of-touch curmudgeons."
At this point, Marvel is obviously unavoidable, with the 23 movies in the Infinity Saga having taken over the movie world since 2008 and at least six more movies are scheduled for the next two years. It's no surprise then that Marvel has become the easy stand-in for garbage entertainment for old guard directors like Scorsese and Coppola, who find themselves suddenly readjusting to a shifting cinema industry on the downturn.
But still, we all should have known this already: Marvel is not trying to be anything more serious than it is (it's a franchise full of aliens, blue and green women, and talking raccoons), and no matter how much Scorsese adopts CGI to de-age Robert De Niro, nobody expects flashy superhero drama from The Irishman. People will always like each kind of movie, and sometimes, they might even like both. Please, just let us live and let this discourse end.