Famed director Martin Scorsese’s stance on superhero films, particularly the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has stirred up a fiery debate. In the most recent episode of the hit series Loki, Scorsese’s perspective receives an indirect but noticeable response.
Scorsese first shared his viewpoint on comic book adaptations back in 2019, comparing these offerings to the rides and attractions of theme parks. He stated—“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.”
Last month, Scorsese revisited these sentiments, calling on filmmakers like Christopher Nolan to unite in preserving diverse cinema in the face of franchise films. He expressed concern that future generations might come to think of these franchise films as the only definition of cinema.
Martin Scorsese’s Take on Superhero Films Sparks Controversy and Conversation
Unsurprisingly, Scorsese’s comments triggered backlash, primarily from staunch fans of Marvel, DC, and other franchise heavyweights. The latest episode of the second season of Loki contains what could be interpreted as a discreet response to Scorsese.
In this episode, Loki and Mobius time-travel to 1977. Hunter X-5, represented by Rafael Casal, turns into a film star named Brad Wolfe, starring in a movie called Zaniac, a nod to a Marvel Comics character. Amidst a conversation about the movie, Brad dubs it an “elevated thriller” and insists emphatically that “it’s cinema.”
Referring to the deliberate omissions in Loki Season 2, it seems that the creators had more in mind than just the storyline. Although not directly addressing Scorsese, this dialogue serves as a reflection of the ongoing debate between the filmmaker and the industry’s biggest franchise.
Scorsese’s Stance Misinterpreted
Contrary to the outrage on social media, Scorsese never directly dismissed superhero films or the MCU as non-cinematic. His concern lies with how franchise films and commercial narratives eclipse diverse stories on the big screen—a responsibility he assigns to the film industry at large, not solely Marvel or DC.
In a recent conversation with IndieWire, Scorsese elaborated on his concerns, decrying the “indie film” label as harmful to the industry. This label narrows the audience reach and poses obstacles for specific films finding theater space.
Scorsese isn’t the only prominent director voicing concerns about franchise dominance. Quentin Tarantino and Chris Evans have also publicly expressed similar views.
When it comes to comic book adaptations, Tarantino believes the characters—not the actors—are the real stars. Supporting this sentiment, Chris Evans, famous for playing Captain America, acknowledged the validity of this perspective, despite the ensuing criticism.
Editor’s note: no one has done more for the preservation of film than Mr. Scorsese. We adore him.
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