In Summary
  • Scorsese penned a New York Times op-ed this week in which he argued superhero blockbusters lack the sense of risk, mystery.
  • Top Hollywood film critics have also endorsed the auteur's position.
  • Countless tweets have painted Scorsese as elitist.

The Oscar-winning director penned a New York Times op-ed this week in which he argued superhero blockbusters lack the sense of risk, mystery and complex characters vital to the "art" of filmmaking.

Marvel films are "market-researched, audience-tested, vetted, modified, revetted and remodified until they're ready for consumption," wrote the "Goodfellas" director.

"They lack something essential to cinema: the unifying vision of an individual artist," Scorsese added, fuelling a controversy he initiated in a magazine interview last month.

Fellow luminaries such as Francis Ford Coppola, Ken Loach and Fernando Meirelles have backed Scorsese, with Coppola even calling the record-breaking Marvel franchise "despicable."

Top Hollywood film critics have also endorsed the auteur's position.

"Scorsese is basically a film climatologist, pointing out a sinister change we can all see with our own eyes," tweeted David Ehrlich, senior film critic of Indiewire.
"Glad he said this, sad he had to," he added.

"UNCINEMATIC"

But the rejection of film's highest-grossing franchise has provoked debate in Hollywood about what constitutes "art," and who gets to define it -- not least because of Scorsese's admission that he has only "tried to watch a few of them."

"That's just not good enough -- you can't dismiss an entire genre as uncinematic without watching them," said Tom Nunan, an Oscar-winning producer and professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Theatre, Film and Television.

"People have always been vocal when they see change going on and it makes them uncomfortable," Nunan ("Crash," 2006) told AFP, pointing to the arrival of 1970s smash hits like "Jaws" and "Star Wars."

"No-one has ever had the nerve to just dismiss the arena -- blockbuster-worthy films -- as uncinematic."

Bob Iger, CEO of Marvel parent company Disney, last month described Scorsese's original comments as "so disrespectful to all the people that work on those films."

"Anyone who has seen a Marvel film could not in all truth make that statement," Iger later told the BBC.

Natalie Portman, who has appeared in several Marvel films and will star in the next "Thor" movie, told The Hollywood Reporter there was "not one way to make art."

But those rebuttals were nothing compared to the fury from Marvel's army of obsessive fans, who have taken to social media to vent their rage.

Countless tweets have painted Scorsese as elitist, with many pointing to box office figures showing nine Marvel films in the 25 top-grossing movies of all time.

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