Marvel directors are assembling in defense of their superhero movies after a bit of criticism from legendary director Martin Scorsese.
The Departed Oscar winner dismissed the MCU as “not cinema” during an interview while promoting his upcoming gangster epic The Irishman.
Asked if he’s watched the films, the director told Empire: “I don’t see them. I tried, you know? But that’s not cinema. 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.”
The Avengers director Joss Whedon replied on Twitter that he sees Scorsese’s point, though also (rather humbly) noted Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn‘s work as an exception: “I first think of @JamesGunn, how his heart & guts are packed into GOTG. I revere Marty, & I do see his point, but… Well there’s a reason why ‘I’m always angry'” (the latter a reference to Bruce Banner’s famous Avengers line).
Gunn himself also had a response: “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.”
The Last Temptation of Christ faced an enormous backlash and criticism from religious conservatives when it was released in 1988, and it seems like a bit of a stretch to compare Scorsese’s mild diss to that controversy, which was also pointed out to Gunn on social media.
“And I’m not saying religious zealotry is the same as not liking my movies, or in the same category,” Gunn responded on Twitter. “What I’m saying is I’m not fond of people judging things without actually seeing them, whether it’s a movie about Jesus or a genre.”
Representatives for Scorsese did not immediately reply to EW’s request for comment.
The back and forth is a bit reminiscent of other times celebrities have dared to criticize Marvel, such as director James Cameron criticizing The Avengers franchise in 2018 (“I’m hoping we’ll start getting Avenger fatigue here pretty soon. Not that I don’t love the movies. It’s just, come on guys, there are other stories to tell besides hyper-gonadal males without families doing death-defying things for two hours and wrecking cities in the process. It’s like, oy!”) and HBO late-night host Bill Maher slamming the films after Stan Lee‘s death that same year (“A culture that thinks that comic books and comic book movies are profound meditations on the human condition is a dumb f—ing culture. And for people to get mad at that just proves my point”).
As for Scorsese, The Irishman has racked up the best reviews of his career judging by Rotten Tomatoes scores (the film stands at 100 percent positive); it opens in theaters on Nov. 1 before debuting on Netflix on Nov. 27.