Belfast Telegraph

Director James Gunn defends superhero films after Scorsese and Coppola criticism

The filmmaker said that previous generations of viewers thought gangster and cowboy films were ‘despicable’.

Martin Scorsese, right, recently compared superhero films such as those by director James Gunn to ‘theme parks’ (Ian West/PA)
Martin Scorsese, right, recently compared superhero films such as those by director James Gunn to ‘theme parks’ (Ian West/PA)

By Lucy Mapstone, PA Deputy Entertainment Editor

Guardians Of The Galaxy director James Gunn has defended Marvel after its slate of superhero films was criticised by Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola, likening them to gangster and cowboy movies.

Taxi Driver and The Irishman director Scorsese recently compared the genre currently dominating the market to “theme parks” and said that they are “not cinema”, and Coppola, known for The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, has called the films “despicable”.

Gunn appeared to respond to the remarks from the Hollywood heavyweights, saying that the now widely revered gangster genre was also previously met with the same disdain.

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Many of our grandfathers thought all gangster movies were the same, often calling them “despicable”. Some of our great grandfathers thought the same of westerns, and believed the films of John Ford, Sam Peckinpah, and Sergio Leone were all exactly the same. I remember a great uncle to whom I was raving about Star Wars. He responded by saying, “I saw that when it was called 2001, and, boy, was it boring!” Superheroes are simply today’s gangsters/cowboys/outer space adventurers. Some superhero films are awful, some are beautiful. Like westerns and gangster movies (and before that, just MOVIES), not everyone will be able to appreciate them, even some geniuses. And that’s okay. ❤️

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He wrote on Instagram: “Many of our grandfathers thought all gangster movies were the same, often calling them ‘despicable’.

“Some of our great grandfathers thought the same of westerns, and believed the films of John Ford, Sam Peckinpah, and Sergio Leone were all exactly the same.

“I remember a great uncle to whom I was raving about Star Wars. He responded by saying, ‘I saw that when it was called 2001, and, boy, was it boring!'”

Gunn, who is currently working on the new Suicide Squad film for Marvel competitor DC Films, added: “Superheroes are simply today’s gangsters/cowboys/outer space adventurers. Some superhero films are awful, some are beautiful.

“Like westerns and gangster movies (and before that, just MOVIES), not everyone will be able to appreciate them, even some geniuses. And that’s okay.”

While picking up a lifetime achievement award at the Lumière Festival in Lyon, France, Coppola reportedly said: “When Martin Scorsese says that the Marvel pictures are not cinema, he’s right because we expect to learn something from cinema, we expect to gain something, some enlightenment, some knowledge, some inspiration.

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Francis Ford Coppola (Anthony Harvey/PA)

“I don’t know that anyone gets anything out of seeing the same movie over and over again.

“Martin was kind when he said it’s not cinema. He didn’t say it’s despicable, which I just say it is.”

Scorsese recently told Empire magazine that he has not seen any of Marvel’s multibillion-dollar-grossing superhero films, adding: “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.”

Earlier this year, Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame became the highest grossing film ever, raking in 2.79 billion US dollars (£2.3 billion) at the global box office.

It was the studio’s latest film in its Marvel Cinematic Universe, which also includes characters such as Iron Man, Spider-Man and Captain America.

PA

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