It’s been over a month since Martin Scorsese said Marvel film were “not cinema,” and while some, like fellow esteemed colleague Francis Ford Coppola, got his back, others, like James Gunn and MCU honcho Kevin Feige, have gone on the defensive. One Marvel employee tried to offer something more like a solution: Mark Ruffalo, the movies’ current Bruce Banner/Hulk, said the legendary filmmaker should give money to budding filmmakers — or, perhaps, more money than he already does.
As caught by IndieWire, Ruffalo was speaking to the BBC Cinematic’s Sam Asi about his latest, the eco-driven Dark Waters, made by another first-rate filmmaker, Todd Haynes. Naturally he was asked about the comments made by the maker of Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, and the new gangster epic The Irishman, both a month back and in a New York Times column last week, in which he, among other claims, accused comic book movies of killing variety in Hollywood. In a way, Ruffalo saw where he was coming from.
“If we’re living in a world where economics are how we measure the value of a society, then yeah, whoever makes the biggest thing is going to dominate,” Ruffalo said. “They are going to try and keep making it again and again. In that article [Scorsese] said something really interesting, and I wish he took it all the way. He said, ‘I am not suggesting that we subsidize films.’ But that’s exactly what he’s suggesting. We should have a national endowment of the arts that gives money to another kind of cinema and does support another kind of cinema.”
And so Ruffalo felt Scorsese should put his money where his mouth is:
“If you’re working in the milieu of ‘I’m going to try and make a movie that has economic success,’ which [Scorsese] does too by the way, then how can you complain about that system when you’re not on top of it anymore? I would love to see Marty create a national film endowment, and he could do this, that lets young, new talent come in that isn’t just driven by the marketplace but driven by precepts of art. That would be amazing. That’s really the crux of this conversation.”
This is all well and good, but it ignores, intentionally or not, that Scorsese is already an exhaustive benefactor to all manner of cinema. He helps produce and/or champion films by independent and international filmmakers, such as Joanna Hogg (The Souvenir), Alice Rohrwacher (Happy as Lazaro), the Safdie brothers (Uncut Gems), and Jonas Carpignano (A Ciambra). He oversees the World Cinema Project, which restores and releases older, obscure films from countries such as Senegal, Turkey, and the Philippines (some of which one can stream on the Criterion Channel). He is a tireless advocate of film preservation and an omniverous film watcher, who has seen everything, old and new, American and foreign, all while churning out countless movies, both narrative and non-fiction.
In other words, Scorsese’s only one man, and he already does a ton. Perhaps other people who share his passion for non-comic book cinema can pick up the slack as well. Till then, the war between Scorsese and Marvel rages on.