‘Black Panther’: Chadwick Boseman Calls Out Martin Scorsese’s Marvel Critiques in the Most Respectful Way
With over 50 years of filmmaking experience, Martin Scorsese has made his mark on the entertainment industry. However, the director has recently been under fire for his critiques about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Now, a few key players in the MCU have spoken out against Scorsese’s commentary, including Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman. And it’s safe to say he disagrees.
What did Martin Scorsese say about movies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
On Oct. 4, IndieWire released one of Scorsese’s quotes from his interview with Empire magazine. And it seems the legendary filmmaker threw some shade at Disney’s Marvel Studios, comparing them to theme parks as opposed to movies.
“I don’t see them. I tried, you know? But that’s not cinema,” Scorsese 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.”
Following the backlash, Scorsese wrote an opinion piece for The New York Times, titled “I Said Marvel Movies Aren’t Cinema. Let Me Explain,” on Nov. 4. In the op-ed, Scorsese clarified his statement, noting that he believes the superhero franchise doesn’t have the mysteries and emotional impact that he experienced in cinemas in the past.
“Many of the elements that define cinema as I know it are there in Marvel pictures,” Scorsese wrote. “What’s not there is revelation, mystery or genuine emotional danger. Nothing is at risk. The pictures are made to satisfy a specific set of demands, and they are designed as variations on a finite number of themes.”
Meanwhile, The Irishman director argued that Marvel films — and other modern-day franchises — are less about the art and more about making a product for profit.
“They are sequels in name but they are remakes in spirit, and everything in them is officially sanctioned because it can’t really be any other way,” he wrote. “That’s the nature of modern film franchises: market-researched, audience-tested, vetted, modified, revetted and remodified until they’re ready for consumption.”
‘Black Panther’s Chadwick Boseman weighs in on Martin Scorsese’s Marvel criticisms
On Nov. 11, The Independent released Boseman’s thoughts on Scorsese’s Marvel Cinematic Universe comments during an interview with BBC 5 Live.
“I have to respect his opinion because he’s a genius at what he does,” Boseman said, recognizing Scorsese’s achievements in the industry.
That said, Boseman believes Black Panther encompasses the essential mysteries in Scorsese’s vision of real cinema. He also suggested that Scorsese may not have seen them in Black Panther, as it’s likely the Taxi Driver director doesn’t understand the emotions of black audiences. Boseman said:
I did the first superhero movie that was nominated for an Oscar. I’m secure in that. The mystery that Scorsese is talking about is in Black Panther. If he saw Black Panther, he didn’t get that there was this feeling of not knowing what was going to happen that black people felt. We’ve never had a superhero like this before. We thought, you know, “White people will kill us off, so it’s a possibility that we could be gone.” We felt that angst. We felt that thing you would feel from cinema when we watched it. That’s cultural. Maybe it’s generational. I don’t know. But I’m secure in what we did. So his statements don’t really bother me.
Boseman also questioned the timing of Scorsese’s statements, hinting at the buzz that now surrounds the director’s latest film, The Irishman.
“You’ve got to think about when he’s saying it. He’s saying it when he’s possibly campaigning for an award,” Boseman said. “He’s saying it at a time when he’s making a Netflix movie, so that’s how eyes get on his film, and it’s not going to be in the cinemas – it’s not going to be seen the best way.”
What other MCU key players say about Martin Scorsese’s comments
Other key players involved in the MCU have also respectfully declined Scorsese’s comments. Following the director’s initial statement, Robert Downey Jr. offered his thoughts.
“I mean it plays in theaters. I appreciate [Scorsese’s] opinion,” he told The Howard Stern Show on Oct. 7. “I think it’s like anything where we need all of the different perspectives so we can come to center and move on.”
At the 6th annual Los Angeles Dance Project Gala on Oct. 20, Natalie Portman also defended the MCU. “I think there’s room for all types of cinema,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “There’s not one way to make art.”
Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson then weighed in on the subject during an Actors on Actors chat at Variety. And although neither Evans nor Johansson named names, the pair tackled the argument as a whole.
A couple of people in the past couple of days have mentioned to me that a couple of extremely esteemed directors have been really vocal about how the whole Marvel universe and big blockbusters are really, like, “despicable” and “the death of cinema.” At first I thought that seems kind of old-fashioned, and somebody had to explain to me, because it seemed so disappointing and sad in a way.
They said, “I think what these people are saying is that at the actual theater, there’s not a lot of room for different kinds of movies, or smaller movies, because the theater is taken up by huge blockbusters.”
It made me think about how people consume content now, and how there’s been this huge sea change with their viewing experience.
Following Johansson’s statement, Evans wondered why the industry can’t make room for both original content and big blockbusters. “I think original content inspires creative content,” he said. “I think new stuff is what keeps the creative wheel rolling. I just believe there’s room at the table for all of it. It’s like saying a certain type of music isn’t music. Who are you to say that?”
Meanwhile, Kevin Feige spoke out about Scorsese’s critiques in an interview with THR on Nov. 10. And the Marvel chief creative officer echoed the statements of his MCU family.
“I think that’s not true. I think it’s unfortunate,” Feige said. “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.”
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