Recently, Martin Scorsese claimed that Marvel Cinematic Universe movies are not real cinema, in a 2019 interview with Empire. For those who may not know, Scorsese is a long-time filmmaker who directed iconic movies such as “Taxi Driver,” “Hugo,” “Goodfellas” and countless other pictures. Many fans are upset with Scorsese for his criticism of comparing the MCU movies to theme parks. However, is he entirely incorrect?
“Avengers: Endgame” became the highest worldwide grossing movie of all time this year, making over $2.7 billion. Furthermore, several other MCU movies are also in the top ten of the world’s highest grossing films category such as “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Avengers” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” As these movies have proven successful, why would Scorsese question whether they are ‘real cinema’? Well, Scorsese is not wrong about the Marvel movies not being real cinema.
Cinema is the art of moving pictures. Now, films and movies have become another form of a business, but real cinema should always have an artistic endeavor in it.
The MCU movies have symbolic values in the form of storytelling and thus some artistic elements into it, but they deliver the same storyline formula. The MCU movies are a great example of a piece of work, but not really a work of art. The entertainment industry has a fine line between craftsmanship and art. The Marvel movies fall into the fine line of craftsmanship without much implication of exploring the relationship between form and content in a more experimental value.
However, Scorsese focuses his concern about the MCU movies being real cinema by expressing the downfalls in character development.
“It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being,” he said in the interview with Empire.
Character development or relatability is the reason filmmakers make stories and why viewers watch. While Scorsese is addressing a tone of storytelling not often shown as clearly in the MCU movies, he is wrong in saying the MCU movies do not undertake an emotional or psychological connection.
Arguably, the Marvel movies follow a solid storyline that provides a clear indication of emotional experiences. For example, the underlying theme in “Infinity War” into “Endgame” is man versus self. As each hero addresses their lack in ability to cope with loss, much as any human does, they also struggle with inner obstacles. A common obstacle within these films is a psychological one. Many heroes face internal conflict like Bruce Banner’s inability to unleash Hulk during Avengers: Infinity War, or Spider-Man’s internal conflict with the unwillingness to accept his new responsibility as a superhero in “Spider Man: Far From Home.” All of these are clear indications of creating a form of communication of emotional or psychological experiences from the character to the viewer.
Overall, Scorsese’s doubt in the artistic value in the Marvel movies is understandable, however, his biggest complaint was the lack of character development or interaction and its ability to create an emotional or psychological connection to the audience. As there are internal conflicts within each character and discovering their way in the world, this creates a connection between the viewers and proves Scorsese is incorrect in his statement. He claimed never to have watched an MCU movie, but do you believe Scorsese can make harsh remarks without fully watching a single movie in the cinematic universe?