Why Do Hollywood Directors Have an Issue with the MCU?

The battle of the filmmakers is nothing new. What one director thinks is pure art, another considers garbage. Decades ago, before the advent of the internet, the battle waged on quietly behind the scenes. Social media and online publications, however, have made it a very public thing. Marvel’s recent foray into the cinematic arts has delighted fans, empowered actors, and created more than a few stars, but that doesn’t mean all of Hollywood is thrilled with its recent popularity. In fact, there are more than a few directors who have nothing good to say about the MCU.

It is safe to say Martin Scorsese is not a Marvel Fan

Martin Scorsese has made it known that he is not a fan of the direction Marvel has gone in, or, at the very least, he isn’t thrilled at people calling the production house’s movies “art.” Scorsese sat down with Empire Magazine to discuss all things Hollywood. When the topic of Marvel’s recent string of successes came up he compared the films to a “theme park,” and refused to acknowledge them as real cinema.

Martin Scorsese attends the 57th New York Film Festival
Martin Scorsese | Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Film at Lincoln Center

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.” The Oscar-winning director noted that he hasn’t actually seen a full film though, claiming that he’s tried, but he just can’t get through them.

While Marvel has been widely popular with fans, several top tier directors have commented negatively about the movies. Scorsese’s commentary, however, was especially harsh and has created severe controversy. James Gunn has responded. Several significant stars have also weighed in on his opinion. Most have taken issue with the fact that Scorsese admits he’s never actually made it through one of the flicks.  

James Cameron isn’t a huge fan, either

While Scorsese’s comments are dominating headlines, he’s far from the first director to speak out against Marvel Studio’s recent string of successes. In 2018, James Cameron stirred controversy when he made comments about Marvel’s well-received Avengers films.

James Cameron attends the press conference of film 'Alita: Battle Angel'
James Cameron | Visual China Group via Getty Images/Visual China Group via Getty Images

According to Vanity Fair, Cameron noted that she wished “Avenger fatigue” would set in soon. In short, he mentioned that while the movies were great, the concept behind them was incredibly played out. It doesn’t sound like he takes issue with the filmmaking, though.  He said, “Not that I don’t love the movies. It’s just, come on, guys, there are other stories to tell besides hyper-gonadal males without families doing death-defying things for two hours and wrecking cities in the process. It’s like, oy!”

There really is nothing new here, though

Directors are always at war with one another. Many in the field act as if the success of one genre somehow equates to the failure of their own. This was seen when Steven Spielberg spoke out following the Oscars. Spielberg was miffed that Netflix movies took home top prizes. To hear Spielberg tell it, he planned to propose new rules that would ban movies that were released as streaming titles from the awards ceremony, according to The New York Times.

Steven Spielberg poses backstage at the hit play "What The Constitution Means to Me"
Steven Spielberg | Bruce Glikas/WireImage

Spielberg’s opinion wasn’t a popular one. The streaming giant felt personally attacked, and filmmakers who made a name for themselves in the streaming medium were irate. Spielberg insists that there is a difference between the streaming experience and the theatrical experience. Not everyone shares that opinion.

Marvel Studios booth at Ani-Con
Marvel Studios | Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

In short, every genre has its place, and one isn’t inherently better than the others. At the end of the day, Scorsese’s commentary is nothing new. He doesn’t care for the comic book genre, and that’s fine. It doesn’t seem like Marvel really needs Scorsese’s seal of approval to succeed, anyway.