Do you remember your life before Martin Scorsese started criticizing Marvel movies? It’s been over a month since the legendary filmmaker dared speak out against the most profitable movies on the planet, which has inspired both cheers and jeers, and defenses from people like Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn and Disney honcho Bob Iger. All the while one of the MCU’s chief architects, Kevin Feige, has kept his trap shut. Well, no more.
In a lengthy interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Feige spends a fair amount of time countering the claims made by the maker of Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy — two films that very much inspired a comic book movie from Marvel’s rivals, DC’s Joker. Scorsese (in)famously said comic book movies were “not cinema,” and in a column in The New York Times last week he mourned how they’ve helped transformed the cinematic landscape and the industry into a homogenous one where franchise movies are now basically the only game in town.
Obviously, Feige doesn’t think Marvel films are bad for cinema. “I think that’s not true. I think it’s unfortunate,” Feige told THR. “I think myself and everyone who works on these movies loves cinema, loves movies, loves going to the movies, loves to watch a communal experience in a movie theater full of people.”
Feige claims the Marvel movies do have variety within their rather narrow lines, and while Scorsese averred that in the films “nothing is at risk,” Feige thinks otherwise.
“We did [the Captain America threequel] Civil War. We had our two most popular characters get into a very serious theological and physical altercation,” Feige says. “We killed half of our characters at the end of a movie [Avengers: Infinity War]. I think it’s fun for us to take our success and use it to take risks and go in different places.”
Feige also fell back on a variation on Jeff Lebowski’s “Well, that’s just your opinion, man.”
“Everybody has a different definition of cinema. Everybody has a different definition of art. Everybody has a different definition of risk …. Some people don’t think it’s cinema. Everybody is entitled to their opinion. Everyone is entitled to repeat that opinion. Everyone is entitled to write op-eds about that opinion, and I look forward to what will happen next. But in the meantime, we’re going to keep making movies.”
He also cited some of their upcoming content as evidence of risk-taking, including the forthcoming Disney+ show WandaVision, following Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch and Paul Bettany’s Vision and described as having a ’50s sitcom vibe.
“It is unlike anything we’ve done before. It’s unlike anything this genre has done before,” Feige said. “And yes, if you are turned off by the notion of a human having extra abilities, and that means everything in which that happens is lumped into the same category, then they might not be for you. But the truth is, these are all — like all great science-fiction stories — parables.”
So take that, the prize-winning auteur who couldn’t get a mob movie starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci greenlit by a major Hollywood studio in the current cinematic climate and instead had to turn to Netflix, who would only allow it to be released in a limited number of theaters for only a month before it was dumped on their streaming service. Perhaps Scorsese will take Adam McKay’s advice and finally watch Thor: Ragnarok.