For months, comic book movie fans have been divided over two topics. First came director Martin Scorsese’s dismissive comments about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Then, just days later, Todd Phillips’ Joker arrived in theaters, challenging the very definition of what comic book movies can be.
Moviegoers have had a range of opinions about both Scorsese’s take on comic book cinema as well as how Joker fits into the genre. Now it seems Scorsese’s The Irishman and Joker will be competing against each other for some major awards. The director’s latest comments on Joker only further perpetuate the supposed rivalry between the two films.
‘Joker’ blatantly borrows from Martin Scorsese
Even fans who revere Joker as a cinematic triumph concede it draws heavily from Scorsese’s work. Phillips has admitted as much, and Joker makes no attempt to hide the many cues it takes from Scorsese films like Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy. After all, Phillips even cast frequent Scorsese star Robert De Niro in a supporting role.
Moreover, Phillips — like Scorsese — has shared his general disinterest in comic book movies. The only reason Joker appealed to him, it seems, is because it doesn’t feel like any other entry in the genre. In many ways, Phillips’ response to Scorsese’s Marvel comments was very much in line with this line of thinking.
Since the two men have seemingly similar sensibilities, the world was naturally curious what Scorsese would think of Joker. The film is essentially a comic book movie stripped of all the artifice the source material normally implies. That approach has resonated with moviegoers to the tune of more than $1 billion worldwide. Would Scorsese agree this is the exception to the rule?
What does the director think about ‘Joker’?
Since Joker is essentially a comic book story told like a Scorsese film, one might assume Scorsese would be more open to it. Even though he doesn’t care for the more mainstream Marvel projects, a more visceral story like Joker should be in his wheelhouse.
Indeed, Scorsese ultimately did weigh in on Joker, calling it a “remarkable work.” He also shared critics’ praise for Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as Arthur Fleck. In fact, the director even revealed he once considered directing the film himself but decided he didn’t have time to pursue it.
At the time of Scorsese’s comments, we questioned his complimentary thoughts on Joker. After all, he clearly is familiar with Phillips and the integral role his own works played in shaping Joker. So perhaps Scorsese was merely trying to be civil about it all.
Martin Scorsese still hasn’t seen ‘Joker’
As it turns out, we weren’t too far off. In a recent interview with The New York Times, Scorsese admits he still hasn’t seen Joker. In fact, he’s in no rush to do so, the report states.
“I saw clips of it,” Scorsese said. “I know it. So it’s like, why do I need to? I get it. It’s fine.”
That’s a big shift from his previous thoughts on the film. Of course, Scorsese’s near-involvement with the project means he has more than likely read over the script. Couple that with his general dismissive take of comic book movies, and it makes perfect sense why he wouldn’t take the time to see Joker.
A filmmaker of Scorsese’s caliber has nothing to prove and is more than entitled to his opinion on cinema. Comic book movies just aren’t something that interests him, and that’s completely fine. Still, we can’t imagine Scorsese’s comments sit too well with Phillips, who admires him so much.