The debate over Marvel movies has become a hot topic online in recent weeks. While famed directors like Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola continue to voice their displeasure with Marvel Studios’ dominance over the film industry, many fans, and Marvel mainstays such as James Gunn and Taika Waititi, fire back and praise the studio.
One name in particular has remained silent throughout the ordeal, and that’s Disney CEO Bob Iger. Well… silent until now.
In response to Scorsese saying that Marvel movies are “not cinema,” and Coppola calling MCU films “despicable,” Iger, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, fired back, saying that he’d hold up films from Ryan Coogler and Taika Waitit, against any film from either director:
“I reserve the word ‘despicable’ for someone who committed mass murder,” said Mr. Iger, speaking at the WSJ Tech Live conference in Laguna Beach, Calif. “These are movies. They want to bitch about movies, it’s certainly their right. I’d gladly put those directors’ movies up against features directed for Marvel by Taika Waititi and Ryan Coogler.”
In case it wasn’t clear, those are indeed fighting words. It’s no surprise that Iger would fiercely defend the storied brand, as Marvel has become Disney’s biggest money maker since its purchase in 2009.
All of this started a few weeks ago, when Scorsese sparked this discussion with comments about the Marvel’s success during an interview.
“I don’t see them. I tried, you know? But that’s not cinema,” he said. “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.”
Coppola then chimed in with his own statement, saying that Marvel movies were “despicable:”
“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. 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.”
We’ve stayed away from this entire debate, deciding against writing back and forth articles. But here, this is the guy in-charge of it all, and he’s clearly not taking the criticism to kindly. While Marvel has been criticized in the past for producing films “on an assembly line” the series has created a massive fan base, with its films resonating with many.
Iger isn’t going to sit around and hear directors trash films his company produces, and, in all honesty, all parties are right in a sense. Sure, Marvel has never created a movie like The Godfather or Goodfellas, but neither Scorsese or Coppola have done the numbers that Marvel has.
But, Marvel has never aimed to make a movie like that; it’s not their perogative to make a movie like Goodfellas. To them, especially within the MCU’s Infinity Saga, each film acted as its own story, but also a means to an end. And for fans, that’s what they like.
At the same time, Scorsese and Coppola have directed some of the greatest films of all time. They love films that are layered, multifaceted, and go deep within the psyche of its main characters. Nobody can ever take that away from them, and that’s totally okay as well.
It is Iger however, above all else, who said it best. They’re just movies.