Chances are, if you’re on this website, you’re a fan of superhero movies. Your admiration for them is understandable; there’s certainly no denying the genre’s popularity all around the world, with films based on comic books earning monetary millions at box offices everywhere upon their cinematic releases. But while they might appeal to a huge amount of people, it also stands to reason that there are also many that just don’t enjoy seeing the likes of Iron Man, Wonder Woman and Captain America saving the world over and over again. Often, well-known names admit to actively disliking franchises such as the DC Extended Universe and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with some even going so far as to say that such films are “lazy” and the equivalent of “cultural genocide.” Harsh? Perhaps, but then again, everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
In recent years, celebrities that have proudly voiced their disdain towards superhero movies have included directors David Fincher, James Mangold and Ridley Scott, actor Jodie Foster and — rather surprisingly given that he played Batman on the big screen three times — Christian Bale. In this list, we collate their respective reasons for hating on the genre, as well as other statements from equally vocal cynics.
16. JODIE FOSTER
Academy Award winner Jodie Foster is the latest big name to speak out against superhero movies. In an interview with the Radio Times Magazine, the actor stated that “going to the movies has become like a theme park’. She continued: “Studios making bad content in order to appeal to the masses and shareholders is like fracking — you get the best return right now but you wreck the earth. It’s ruining the viewing habits of the American population and then ultimately the rest of the world.”
Foster — who was talking with the publication to promote “Arkangel”, an episode of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror in which she directed – detailed how she’s never been interested in making “200 million dollar movies about superheroes.” Instead, she wants to “make movies to figure out who [she is], [her] place in the world, or to evolve as a person.”
15. TIM BURTON
It seems fair to describe Tim Burton’s Batman as the film that kicked off the superhero trend today, despite it being released way back in 1989. It certainly inspired the idea behind the comic book inspired summer blockbuster. The film lifts themes and threads directly from Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s The Killing Joke and Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, so it’s likely that Burton and screenwriters Sam Hamm and Warren Skaaren were fans of such material in those days.
Sadly, it seems as if Burton has grown weary of superhero-filled pictures, and how similar they can be to one another, now though… “How many times can you say ‘you’re wearing a funny costume’ with the tights and stuff? That’s been going on for 20 years now,” he asked Yahoo UK. “Yes, we all know that superheroes are damaged individuals. Maybe we need to see a happy superhero?”
14. JASON STATHAM
Having had roles in The Expendables, Fast and Furious and The Transporter, Jason Statham is best known for starring in action movies. Given how heavily comic movies feature action, it wouldn’t much of a stretch for the British actor to star in one. Unfortunately, he’s not remotely interested in donning a super suit.
“A lot of the modern sort of action movies I see, you know Marvel sort of things, I just think any guy can do it,” he said. “I have no ambition… I mean I can take my grandma and put here in a cape and they’ll have stunt doubles come in and do all the action. Anybody can do it. They are relying on green screen and 200 million dollar budgets. It’s all CGI created. So to me that is not authentic. I’m inspired by all old real star — guys that can really do their thing.”
13. JAMES MANGOLD
Despite directing the hugely popular X-Men outing Logan in 2017, James Mangold has some negative thoughts about the superhero genre as a whole. “Tentpole movies in general, they are not movies, generally.” he revealed in an episode of podcast The Business. “They are bloated exercises in two-hour trailers for another movie they are going to sell you in two years. There are so many characters that each character gets an arch of about six and a half minutes at best, and I’m not exaggerating.”
He continued, “You take 120 minutes, you take 45 of it for action, what are you left with, divide it by six characters, you have the character arc of Elmer Fudd in a Warner Brothers cartoon. That formula is empty for me”. During the interview, Mangold claimed that his refusal to create a cookie-cutter comic book film made Logan a better picture.
12. MEL GIBSON
When Mel Gibson has turned down the role of Thor’s father Odin in the MCU, he spoke highly of the franchise, but the actor has since revealed what he really thinks of big budget blockbusters.
“I look at them and scratch my head. I’m really baffled by it. I think there’s a lot of waste but maybe if I did one of those things with the green screens I’d find out different,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “Maybe they do cost that much. I don’t know. It seems to me that you could do it for less. If you’re spending outrageous amounts of money, $180 million or more, I don’t know how you make it back after the taxman gets you, and after you give half to the exhibitors… what did they spend on Batman V Superman that they’re admitting to? And it’s a piece of s**t.”
11. DAVID FINCHER
David Fincher, acclaimed director of movies including Se7en, Gone Girl and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo isn’t a fan of comic book films either. Why? He thinks they’re too repetitive. “Now, movies are about saving the world from destruction,” he previously told the Financial Times. “Many people at studios are still fighting the good fight. There are executives there who are friends of mine. But if you want to make studio movies, you stay in their lanes, which are romantic comedy, affliction Oscar bait, spandex summer, superhero tentpole, moderately budgeted sequel.”
He continued: “The cinema isn’t dead. It just does something different. The place is still filled with kids, it’s just they’re all on their phones. It’s a social event like a bonfire, and the movie is the bonfire. It’s why people gather but it’s not actually there to be looked at, because the bonfire is always the same.”
10. HUGO WEAVING
In 2011, Hugo Weaving brought Marvel villain Red Skull to life in Captain America: The First Avenger. The following year, he explained to Collider that while “it was good to do it and try it out” it is not an experience he’d be keen to repeat.
“I’m glad I did it,” he stated. “I did sign up for a number of pictures but they wouldn’t want to force someone to do it if they didn’t want to. I think I’ve done my dash with that sort of film. “It’s not the sort of film I seek out and really am excited by. As an actor, to do all sorts of different films is great. It stretches you in different ways. But, I increasingly like to go back to what I used to always do, which is to get involved with projects that I really have a personal affiliation with.”
9. LUC BESSON
During the promotional tour of his sci-fi Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets, filmmaker Luc Besson admitted that he was “totally tired” of superheroes dominating film. “It was great 10 years ago when we see the first Spider-Man and Iron Man,” he told CinePOP. “But now, it’s like number five, six, seven; the superhero is working with another superhero but it’s not the same family. I’m lost.”
“But what bothers me most is it’s always here to show the supremacy of America and how they are great. I mean, which country in the world would have the guts to call a film ‘Captain Brazil’ or ‘Captain France?’ I mean, no one! We would be like so ashamed and say, ‘No, we can’t do that.’ They can. They can call it ‘Captain America,’ and everybody think it normal. I’m not here for propaganda, I’m here to tell a story.”
8. ROSE MCGOWAN
Back in 2015, Rose McGowan took to Instagram to share her “thoughts on the current state of tentpole films aka superheroes.” During the passionate rant, she argued “what’s wrong with superhero movies is that they lack complexity, story development, character development [and] freedom of thought.”
The Planet Terror star went on to say: “It’s lazy and average male filmmaking. If it’s okay, it’s considered good, if it’s good it’s great and the reality is no thinking person agrees. I’d like to petition for other stories to be added to the slate. Where are the human stories? I don’t want green goblins and tight outfits. I want intelligence, daring, work that drives society forward. I want a mirror, not every cliché regurgitated ad nauseum.” McGowan even stated that she quit acting because “it got so boring in front of the camera,” working on similar types of projects.
7. ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ INARRITU
While promoting Birdman, Alejandro González Iñárritu was asked whether he’d ever consider directing a comic book movie. His history didn’t exactly point towards it, but because Michael Keaton’s character in the then-upcoming outing plays a superhero, it seemed fitting.“I sometimes enjoy them because they are basic and simple and go well with popcorn,” he explained to Deadline.
“The problem is that sometimes they purport to be profound, based on some Greek mythological kind of thing and they are honestly very right wing. I always see them as killing people because they do not believe in what you believe, or they are not being who you want them to be. I hate that, and don’t respond to those characters. They have been poison — this cultural genocide — because the audience is so overexposed to plot and explosions and s**t that doesn’t mean nothing about the experience of being human.”
6. RIDLEY SCOTT
Acclaimed director Ridley Scott has never been one to mince words. And in an interview with Digital Spy in late 2016, he certainly didn’t, as he opened up about the numerous offers of helming superhero movies he turned down just because “cinema mainly is pretty bad.”
He declared: “Superhero movies are not my kind of thing — that’s why I’ve never really done one. [I’ve been asked] several times, but I can’t believe in the thin, gossamer tightrope of the non-reality of the situation of the superhero. I’ve done that kind of movie — Blade Runner really is a comic strip when you think about it, it’s a dark story told in an unreal world. You could almost put Batman or Superman in that world, that atmosphere, except I’d have a f****ng good story, as opposed to no story!”
5. ROLAND EMMERICH
While Independence Day director Roland Emmerich recognizes that films like his — where the world is ending and a small number of individuals team up to save it — have influenced modern superhero movies, he wouldn’t describe himself as a fan of them. Why? They’re too unrealistic because the protagonist is always someone with powers. He reckons they’re too predictable too, as it’s pretty obvious that a superhuman is going to triumph.
“When you look at my movies it’s always the regular Joe Schmo that’s the unlikely hero. A lot of Marvel movies, they show people in funny suits running around. I don’t like people in capes,” he explained to The Guardian. “I find it silly when someone dons a superhero suit and flies. I don’t understand it. I grew up in Germany, that’s probably why.”
4. DAVID CRONENBERG
It’s hardly shocking to learn that David Cronenberg, director of movies such as Videodrome, Cosmopolis and The Fly, isn’t a fan of tentpole productions. Back in 2012, he slammed the genre, saying: “I don’t think they are making them an elevated art form. I think it’s still Batman running around in a stupid cape.”
“Christopher Nolan’s best movie is Memento, and that is an interesting movie. I don’t think his Batman movies are half as interesting, though they’re 20 million times the expense. A superhero movie, by definition, you know, it’s comic book. It’s for kids,” Cronenberg spelled out to MTV site Next Movie. “It’s adolescent in its core. That has always been its appeal, and I think people who are saying, you know, The Dark Knight Rises is supreme cinema art, I don’t think they know what the f— they’re talking about.”
3. CILLIAN MURPHY
Cillian Murphy is another actor who has starred in a superhero movie and yet makes no secret of his indifference towards them. Despite appearing as Jonathan Crane in the 2005 film Batman Begins, he teased, “Have they exhausted every single comic book ever?” in 2016.
“It was a different time back when we made Batman Begins,” he continued. I think that Chris [Nolan] has to take credit for making that trilogy of films. I think they’re so grounded in a relatable reality. Nobody in those films ever had a superpower. Do you know what I mean? It’s a slightly heightened level of storytelling, where New York is Gotham, and no one did anything magical. Batman in his movies just did a lot of push-ups and was, like, British. So that’s what I loved about them. My kids love the Marvel movies, but I don’t know. I don’t watch them.”
2. WILLIAM FRIEDKIN
William Friedkin, the Oscar-winning director of The Exorcist, dismissed superhero movies in 2015. Talking at the Champs- Élysées Film Festival in Paris, he explained that the trend of cinemagoers overlooking certain pictures began when Star Wars came out in the ’70s. “Films used to be rooted in gravity,” he noted. “They were about real people doing real things. Today cinema in America is all about Batman, Superman, Iron Man, Avengers, Hunger Games: all kinds of stuff that I have no interest in seeing at all.”
He detailed how his action-thriller Sorcerer, which was released during the same year as A New Hope, was overshadowed by the hype surrounding it. While we’d argue Star Wars isn’t a comic book movie — and that the first one had a significantly smaller budget than Sorcerer did — it’s the extreme reaction to such movies Friedkin doesn’t seem to be a lover of.
1. CHRISTIAN BALE
The movies that make up Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy are often regarded as some of the best outings within the superhero genre of all-time. Similarly, film fans frequently hail Christian Bale — who portrayed Bruce Wayne in said movies — as the best Batman of all-time.
Interestingly though, the British actor isn’t actually a lover of comic book inspired cinema himself. When asked whether he’d seen Ben Affleck’s version of The Caped Crusader, he confessed that he hadn’t and that “people [always] seem to surprised to learn that he’s “not a huge superhero film fan”. “I’ve not seen any of the Avengers films or any of those films at all. I hear they’re very good, but I’m quite happy just hearing they’re very good.”
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